Mercedes-AMG celebrates podium finish and defends championship lead at Suzuka

Mercedes-AMG celebrates podium finish and defends championship lead at Suzuka

25.08.2019: Suzuka 10 Hours | Intercontinental GT Challenge Mercedes-AMG Motorsport is defending its lead in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) in the Suzuka 10 Hours. As a result,

Suzuka 10 Hours | Intercontinental GT Challenge

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport is defending its lead in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings of the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) in the Suzuka 10 Hours. As a result, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach got itself into a perfect position prior to the final round of the IGTC season, the Kyalami 9 Hour (21-23 November).

In the 10-hour race at Suzuka, the seven Mercedes-AMG GT3s also scored very successful overall and class results at the 5.8 kilometres long Suzuka Circuit: the #999 Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing entry finished on the overall podium in second place, allowing Maximilian Buhk (GER) to become the sole points’ leader in the IGTC drivers’ standings.

The Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing just missed out on a podium finish in fourth place, followed by Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing and Mercedes-AMG Team Goodsmile Racing in ninth and tenth place. Moreover, the Customer Racing Teams SunEnergy1 Racing (Silver), Strakka Racing (Pro-Am) and SATO-SS Sports (AM) were able to score three class wins at Suzuka.

•    Overall podium with P2 for Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing

•    Three class wins in Silver, Pro-Am and Am categories

•    Points’ lead in drivers’ and manufacturers’ standings defended

Suzuka – After its 1-2 from the previous year, the Mercedes-AMG Teams also had a promising start into the Suzuka 10 Hours: the trio with starting number 999 of Maximilian Buhk, Maro Engel (GER) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA) posted the fastest times in the first three practice sessions that were partly held in torrential rain.

Later, on a dry track, five of the seven Mercedes-AMG GT3s managed to make it into the pole shootout of the 20 fastest cars in which they secured grid positions 6, 8, 9, 12 and 14. Among them was the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 as the only non-Pro car.

For the start of the race, the 36 participants in the field also found excellent conditions with hot and dry weather. The Mercedes-AMG GT3s had a good start into the 10-hour race. Only the #44 Strakka Racing car initially dropped back to 25th place, but soon worked its way up towards the top ten. Starting driver Maximilian Buhk and his teammates soon were able to establish themselves in the front running group with the #999 and went on to drive a consistent and faultless race.

Maro Engel and after him Raffaele Marciello in particular had entertaining position fights in the second half of the race and their final stints, in which they were successful and therefore ended up on the podium, finishing second overall after 275 laps. As a result, they helped their teammate Maximilian Buhk to take the lead in the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ standings, in which he is now ahead of his Mercedes-AMG colleagues Raffaele Marciello and Maximilian Götz.

The remaining Mercedes-AMG GT3s also drove a faultless race and all seven cars crossed the finish line without any damage. With three further top ten results for Craft-Bamboo Racing, Strakka Racing and Goodsmile Racing in fourth, ninth and tenth place and three class wins, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport scored an outstanding result, as Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, confirmed after the race.

Goodsmile Racing also was honoured as the best Super GT and the best Asian team in the field. With Nico Bastian (GER), Mikael Grenier (CAN) and Kenny Habul (AUS), the best-placed bronze driver in the field, SunEnergy1 Racing secured the Silver Cup class win. In the Pro-AM class, Dominik Baumann (AUT), Adrian Henry D’Silva (MAS) and Christina Nielsen (DEN) of the Strakka Racing team claimed victory. Team SATO-SS SPORTS drivers Norio Kubo, Atsushi Sato and Ryosei Yamashita (all JPN) achieved the third class win.

In the IGTC manufacturers’ standings, Mercedes-AMG was able to extend its lead to 22 points thanks to a closed team performance. With Buhk, Marciello and Götz, three Mercedes-AMG drivers are in the first three positions of the drivers’ standings. A perfect situation prior to the final round, the Kyalami 9 Hour at the end of November.

Maximilian Buhk, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing #999:
“All in all, we have had a very good weekend. Even though we didn’t have the fastest car, we have staged a faultless and consistent race. First of all, scoring championship points was important for us. However, being on the podium with second place and leading the IGTC drivers’ standings feels all the better. I am looking forward to the finale at Kyalami.”

Maximilian Götz, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing #77:
“We lost some time in traffic. Too bad, as we had good chances of finishing on the podium. Fourth place is okay and my title chances in the drivers’ championship are still open. Many thanks to Craft-Bamboo Racing for the great effort and the super job they have done.”

Christina Nielsen, Team Strakka Racing #43
: “At the start of the weekend, I didn’t expect this result. Like many others, we slightly struggled with the heavy rain in the practice sessions. However, like last year, Strakka again has done a top job and in the dry, we were able to improve our performance. The team and we as the drivers haven’t made any mistakes and that was the key to success. Many thanks to the team and to my teammates Adrian and Dominik.”

Nico Bastian, SunEnergy1 Racing #75:
“Victory in the Silver Cup was our goal and that is what we have achieved. Therefore, I am very happy, of course. Twelfth place overall also is a respectable result, even though I had secretly hoped for a top ten result in my first race at Suzuka. But that would just have been the icing on the cake, the class win is all that matters. Racing at this great track in this atmosphere was a super experience and I hope that I will be allowed to come back next year.”

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing:
“Congratulations to the deserved winners. Today, the overall win was beyond reach, we slightly lacked the basic speed for that.

But we have achieved the maximum that was possible today: second place overall, three further cars in the top ten, three class wins and the defence of the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championship lead. That is just perfect and we have fully achieved our goals. Many thanks to all our teams and drivers for the faultless and outstanding achievement!”

Result Suzuka 10 Hours*:

1.    1.
Pro    25    Audi R8 LMS GT3 2019    Audi Sport Team WRT    Kevin van der Linde (ZAF), Dries Vanthoor (BEL), Frederic Vervisch (BEL)

2.    2.
Pro    999    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing    Maximilian Buhk (GER), Maro Engel (GER), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)

3.    3.
Pro    912    Porsche 911 GT3 R    Absolute Racing    Matt Campbell (AUS), Dennis Olsen (NOR), Dirk Werner (GER)

4.    4.
Pro    77    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing    Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maximilian Götz (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)
...    ...                    

9.    9.
Pro    44    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Mercedes-AMG Team Strakka Racing    Gary Paffett (GBR), Tristan Vautier (FRA), Lewis Williamson (GBR)

10.    10.
Pro    00    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Mercedes-AMG Team Goodsmile Racing    Tatsuya Kataoka (JPN), Kamui Kobayashi (JPN), Nobuteru Taniguchi (JPN)

12.    1.
Silver    75    Mercedes-AMG GT3    SunEnergy1 Racing    Nico Bastian (GER), Mikaël Grenier (CAN), Kenny Habul (AUS)

20.    1.
ProAm    43    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Team Strakka Racing    Dominik Baumann (AUT), Adrian Henry D’Silva (MAS), Christina Nielsen (DEN)

25.    1.
Am    112    Mercedes-AMG GT3    SATO-SS SPORTS    Norio Kubo (JPN), Atsushi Sato (JPN), Ryosei Yamashita (JPN)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser

 - Jochen Übler, photos Mercedes     


25.08.2019 / MaP

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