The most successful driver in the history of the race, having won each of the past three editions in 2020, 2022 and 2023, Gounon will again line up with fellow Mercedes gun Luca Stolz and SunEnergy1 patron Kenny Habul as he begins his defense of the Intercontinental GT Challenge title on 18 February.
Gounon, Stolz and bronze-rated Habul won the 2022 edition with Martin Konrad when the event returned as a Pro-am contest, following a COVID-enforced hiatus in 2021, before claiming a remarkable victory against full-Pro line-ups in 2023 as Gounon staved off late pressure from Matt Campbell’s Porsche.
“I had a nice winter as the reigning IGTC champion,” said Gounon, who conquered Bathurst in 2020 for Bentley with Maxime Soulet and Jordan Pepper.
“The title means a lot to me as it is something I worked to achieve for many years. You only reach it with consistent achievements in the world’s biggest and toughest races.
“This year, I would like to build on this success and drive four good races. But that will certainly be more difficult as the pressure is higher when you aren’t racing as an outsider.
“I hope for a good week at Bathurst. It is my undisputed favorite track and I can hardly wait to get back there.”
#999 GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: Maro Engel, Mikael Grenier, Raffaele Marciello
Photo by: Edge Photographics
Mercedes has also nominated works-endorsed teams fielded by Craft-Bamboo and GruppeM in the Pro class.
Last year’s polesitter with GruppeM, factory driver Maro Engel, returns to the squad alongside Felipe Fraga and 2017 Bathurst 1000 winner David Reynolds.
Meanwhile, former AMG works driver Daniel Juncadella returns to drive a Mercedes for the first time since his switch to Corvette, reuniting with Craft-Bamboo after several stirring performances in GT World Challenge Asia last year.
He will be joined by Australian young gun Jayden Ojeda and 2021 DTM champion Maxi Gotz, who also has recent experience with the team in Asia.
“Unfortunately, I have never been able to win at Bathurst yet, so that is the big goal,” said Engel.
“We will do everything to achieve that, and we are well prepared, even though competition is strong again.”
Mercedes will also be represented in the Pro class by the Triple Eight-run National Storage Racing entry in which factory driver Mikael Grenier joins its Supercars drivers Broc Feeney and Will Brown, while two-time Bathurst 12 Hour winner Craig Lowndes is partnered by Tickford Supercars aces Thomas Randle and Cameron Waters.
IMSA SportsCar Championship squad Heart of Racing has entered the Pro-am class with a Mercedes that Ian James will share with Aston Martin factory driver Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas, who claimed two GTD Pro class wins in 2023.