Kenny Habul’s goal of making a mark in US motorsports ramped up a notch when the Australian’s SunEnergy1 Mercedes AMG GT3 smashed the lap record to take the GTD pole for the Sebring 12 Hours.
The pole marked Mercedes’ Sebring debut for the AMG GT3 and in just the second race for the team in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship after debuting in January’s Daytona 24 Hours.
Habul’s French team-mate Tristan Vautier recorded the all important lap which arrived 60 years after the three-pointed star last competed in the race
Vautier’s time of 1:59.738, was 0.752 of a second quicker than the Audi R8 of Connor de Phillippi.
In the 1957 race, a pair of privateer Mercedes-Benz 300SL cars placed first and third in the GT 3500 class.
“Congratulations to Tristan and everybody on the team. It’s a wonderful achievement,” said Habul, who will share the car with Vautier and US veteran road racer Boris Said.
“Thanks first to Mercedes-AMG, I wouldn’t be here without them, they did a lot to help us.
“This is a brand new endeavour and it was very difficult to start this from zero.
“We had nothing – no tools, no pit cart, nothing. It’s all brand new, which is a wonderful achievement and we have a wonderful car.
“I was quick in the car, I love driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and I am really excited for tomorrow.”
The sister Mercedes-AMG qualified seventh in class with Ben Keating at the wheel, while the third AMG being shared by Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen was eighth after being qualified by Cooper MacNeil with a time of 2:01.358s.
“It was a very good session overall. It’s cool, we are a brand-new team, only in our second race and we are on the pole position,” said Vautier.
“Tomorrow we have 12 hours of racing, the pace should be there and it is just going to be about execution, not making any mistakes, and being there for the last two hours to set us up to race to the end.”
The race is scheduled to start at 10:40 a.m. US-EDT, 00.40am Australian AEDT.