Podium success for Mercedes-AMG in a challenging Spa 24-hour race

Podium success for Mercedes-AMG in a challenging Spa 24-hour race

29.07.2019: Customer Racing: Total 24 Hours of Spa After 2017, a Mercedes-AMG GT3 again is on the winners’ podium of the Total 24 Hours of Spa. In a race marked by changeable weather and a long interruption, the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON car that had s

Customer Racing: Total 24 Hours of Spa



After 2017, a Mercedes-AMG GT3 again is on the winners’ podium of the Total 24 Hours of Spa. In a race marked by changeable weather and a long interruption, the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON car that had started from pole position secured third place. Next to the podium finish for Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel and Luca Stolz (both GER), the other teams with the cars from Affalterbach also put in strong achievements.


Lucas Auer (AUT), Maximilian Buhk and Maximilian Götz (both GER), made it into the top ten with their tenth-place in the #999 GT3 of the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing. Mercedes-AMG’s participation in the various classes was also successful: both in the Silver Cup and in the Pro-Am classification, there was a second and a third place to celebrate.



In the Blancpain GT Series drivers’ classification, Engel and Stolz are taking over the lead and they move up into second place in the Endurance classification. In the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC), Buhk and Götz defend their first place.




•    Mercedes-AMG GT3s in places 3, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 26, 32 and 43

•    Four podium finishes in Silver Cup and in the Pro-Am class

•    Engel/Stolz take Blancpain GT Series lead

•    Mercedes-AMG wins manufacturers’ trophy in Total 24 Hours of Spa




The 71st running of the Total 24 Hours of Spa got off to a promising start for Mercedes-AMG: in hot summer weather, Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz secured the fastest time in Thursday’s combined qualifying with the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3.



As he was the last to cross the finish line in the Super Pole session in equally hot conditions on Friday, Engel secured the first-ever pole position for Mercedes-AMG in the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race.


The weather changed for race day, so that the classic endurance race got underway in pouring rain and behind the safety car. Pole-sitter Engel initially held on to the lead. What followed was a high-class race, marked by changeable conditions.


Several full-course yellows and tactical pit stops repeatedly led to major changes in the ranking of the 72 GT3 cars. As the race went on, the Mercedes-AMG Performance Teams in particular established themselves in the front-running group of the field: BLACK FALCON (#4), AKKA ASP (#88) GruppeM Racing (#999) and Strakka Racing (#44) repeatedly showed themselves on course for a podium result during the evening and the night hours.



Early on Sunday morning, however, heavy rain led to an interruption of the race of almost six hours. After the restart, an extremely thrilling final part with still highly changeable weather conditions followed. Hopes were particularly on the Mercedes-AMG Teams BLACK FALCON and GruppeM Racing. Yelmer Buurman drove the #4 back from fifth place onto podium course and handed the car to Maro Engel while in P2. During his final double stint, the latter came under pressure, temporarily dropped out of the top 3, but worked his way back up.



Just before the race distance had been completed, an accident brought out the safety car once more. Eventually, Engel brought third place home after 363 laps, the shortest distance to date due to the numerous full-course yellows and safety car interventions and the long interruption. The team also having scored points at the intermediate classifications after six and twelve hours, Engel and Stolz are taking the lead in the Blancpain GT Series drivers’ standings.


With the #999 GruppeM Racing car, Auer, Götz and Buhk also had a thrilling finish. Final driver Götz was still able to make up ground for a brief while and moved up into P7, but then lost positions again. Eventually, Götz brought tenth place home and still scored four points for the Intercontinental GT Challenge.



As a result, Buhk/Götz defend their lead in the IGTC drivers’ standings. Raffaele Marciello (ITA), who raced the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG in the 24-hour race together with Vincent Abril (MON) and Fabian Schiller (GER), is following three points down on the leading duo. Marciello, Abril and Schiller finished the classic endurance race in 13th place overall.



The further Customer Racing cars also caught the attention with strong performances. The progress made by the #90 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was particularly impressive: the AKKA ASP team having changed the engine of the car on Thursday, Nico Bastian (GER), Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS) and Felipe Fraga (BRA) had to start from the pits.




Until the interruption, the Silver Cup car had worked its way up into an intermediate top ten position. After 361 laps, final driver Bastian secured 17th position to claim second place in the Silver Cup. As a result, Bastian/Boguslavskiy extend their points’ lead in the Blancpain GT Series Silver Cup drivers’ standings and, together with Fraga, already wrapped up the Silver Cup endurance championship title. Third place in class for the #6 BLACK FALCON car rounded out the Silver Cup success: Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA), Hubert Haupt, Patrick Assenheimer (both GER) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) were classified 24th overall.



In the Pro-Am classification, there was also a double podium success for the Customer Racing Teams: the #74 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Darren Burke (GBR), Christiaan Frankenhout (NED), Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) and Remon Vos (NED) secured second place in class after a largely faultless race. With the #43 Strakka Racing car, David Fumanelli (ITA), Jack Hawksworth (GBR), Richard Heistand (USA) and Christina Nielsen (DEN) finished third in class. The cumulated point-scores in the overall classification and the various classes see Mercedes-AMG again win the manufacturers’ trophy in the 24-hour race after 2018.




Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #4:
“We wanted victory and we gave it our all. Porsche was simply faster, congratulations to the winners. We can also be proud of ourselves. We have done a mega job. For the championship, this was a really good weekend. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this. Next year, we will be back and try to be on the top step.”



Luca Stolz, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #4:
“Of course, we are happy. We had good point-scores after six, twelve and 24 hours. As a result, we are still in very good positions in both Blancpain championship standings. Today, we definitely still have reason to celebrate.”



Yelmer Buurman, Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON #4:
“To be honest, I have somewhat mixed feelings. We were in contention for victory here for so long and it isn’t too often that you get such a chance. On the other hand, I am really happy. This is my sixth 24-hour race here at Spa and my maiden podium finish. Thanks to the team and to Mercedes-AMG. The car was perfect and we haven’t made any mistakes. That is really impressive!”



Maximilian Buhk, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999:
“The team has done an impeccable job, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has worked perfectly. Unfortunately, the rest was a bit of a lottery with the weather and the interruption of the race. I think, we were second heading into the pit lane as the race was interrupted and I thought the restart would be based on the order of the last timed lap. Therefore, it is too bad that we dropped back that far. But then again, finishing in the top ten in the world’s biggest GT3 race isn’t that bad.”



Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999:
“First of all, I have to take a deep breath. We had a good pace in the dry, but unfortunately, it wasn’t dry enough during the race. We also had a poorly timed pit stop that eventually cost us a top result. Now, we are in P10. That wasn’t our ambition, but making it to the finish already is a big success in such a hard race.”



Nico Bastian, AKKA ASP Team #90:
“We have survived this crazy race, but what is more important, we have already won an early Endurance championship title in the Silver Cup prior to the season finale. As a result, the weekend at Barcelona will be very pleasant for us. In the race, we worked our way up from the very back of the field to P17 overall and P2 in class. That was an outstanding achievement by the entire team.”



Patrick Assenheimer, BLACK FALCON #6:
“It was my second participation in the Spa 24 Hours. During my first start, we retired relatively early. Therefore, my goal was to make it to the finish and if possible also make it onto the podium. We have achieved both. As a result, we are really happy, we have scored some points and we are still second in the Endurance championship.”




Tom Onslow-Cole, RAM Racing #74:
“P2 in Pro-Am, that is such a great result for us as a team. Nobody would have been surprised if we had lost the car in an accident. Conditions simply were so difficult and the race was so long. But we made it through and we were fast. That is simply just fantastic. I think I can promise that we will be coming back to Spa.”



David Fumanelli, Strakka Racing #43: “
It was a very difficult race with the changeable conditions. In the final hour, we still incurred a penalty. From that perspective, we are super happy to still have secured third place in Pro-Am.”



Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing
: “First of all, my congratulations to the winners. As expected, it was the chaotic race with many lead changes, highs and lows as well as a long interruption that didn’t help us at that time. We are happy with the podium finish, even though we had made our ambition of the overall win clear with pole position. Too bad that it didn’t work out! Nevertheless, thanks to everyone, particularly to our Customer Racing Teams that have contributed to us bringing the trophy for the manufacturers’ classification to Affalterbach for the second time.”





Order Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the finish, Total 24 Hours of Spa*:


 
1    1
Pro    20    GPX Racing    Porsche 911 GT3 R    Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre


2    2
Pro    998    Rowe Racing    Porsche 911 GT3 R    Frederic Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy


3    3
Pro    4    Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)
...                         


10    10
Pro    999    Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Lucas Auer (AUT), Maximilian Buhk (GER), Maximilian Götz (GER)


13    13
Pro    88    Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Vincent Abril (MON), Raffaele Marciello (ITA), Fabian Schiller (GER)


17    2
Silver    90    AKKA ASP Team    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Nico Bastian (GER), Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS), Felipe Fraga (BRA)


20    18
Pro    44    Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Gary Paffett (GBR), Tristan Vautier (FRA), Lewis Williamson (GBR)



24    3
Silver    6    BLACK FALCON    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA), Patrick Assenheimer (GER), Hubert Haupt (GER), Gabriele Piana (ITA)


26    2
Pro-Am    74    RAM Racing    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Darren Burke (GBR), Christiaan Frankenhout (NED), Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), Remon Vos (NED)


32    3
Pro-Am    43    Strakka Racing    Mercedes-AMG GT3    David Fumanelli (ITA), Jack Hawksworth (GBR), Richard Heistand (USA), Christina Nielsen (DEN)


43    6
Pro-Am    133
     Scuderia Villorba Corse    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Mauro Calamia (SUI), Ivan Jacoma (SUI), Stefano Monaco (SUI), Roberto Pampanini (ITA)



DNF    DNF
Pro    00    Goodsmile Racing & Type Moon    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Tatsuya Kataoka (JPN), Nobuteru Taniguchi (JPN)


* subject to confirmation by the organisers



 
Jochen Übler,  photos Mercedes




Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/podium-mercedes-amg-24h-spa-race---194874.html

29.07.2019 / MaP

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