Stefan Wendl interview

Stefan Wendl interview

04.07.2019: When one 24-hour race finishes, preparations for the next begin. Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, takes a look at the two standout fixtures on the Mercedes-AMG motorsport calendar and gives us more details about the new Mercedes-AMG GT3

When one 24-hour race finishes, preparations for the next begin. Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, takes a look at the two standout fixtures on the Mercedes-AMG motorsport calendar and gives us more details about the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 which will be put through its first test under racing conditions at Portimao next weekend (5th - 7th July).

Stefan, in this year's 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, there was no shortage of thrilling racing action and there were a few disappointments along the way, but ultimately Mercedes-AMG once again had some degree of success to celebrate. How would you sum up this year's big race in the Eifel?

Stefan Wendl:
To get onto the Nürburgring podium, a lot of factors have to fall into place: you need a reliable car, a well-versed team and a driver crew who don't make any errors. Success in motorsport isn't something that can be planned for, especially not on the Nordschleife, and consequently there were no guarantees that we would be back on the podium after our appearance there last year. In the circumstances, we are very happy with P3 in the general classification for BLACK FALCON as well as the class win for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 which finished first in the SP10 for the second year in a row.

It was obviously a great pity that four of our other cars failed to finish after looking like they might be in contention for a podium or even overall victory. All in all, though, we can be very satisfied with our performance - the podium, the class win, and the two pole positions we achieved in an outstanding qualifying session once again demonstrated the strength in depth of our cars, teams and drivers.

The next big 24-hour race weekend is Spa which comes at the end of July. Could you tell us how Mercedes-AMG will be approaching this event?

Stefan Wendl:
We will once again have strong teams and drivers in the line-up, and we are well set up for the race with ten cars fielded by AKKA ASP, BLACK FALCON, Goodsmile Racing, GroupM Racing, RAM Racing, Scuderia Villorba Corse and STRAKKA Racing. The teams and drivers will be applying the final touches during the test days that are currently taking place on the track at Spa-Francorchamps.

The opposition will be there in strength, and the standard of competition will be enormously high; it is probably the most challenging GT3 race in the world. After our win with the SLS AMG GT3 in 2013, it's high time that we got ourselves back on top - this time with the Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 was wheeled out for the first time in the context of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. This coming weekend, the new GT3 generation from Affalterbach will contest its first test under race conditions in the 24 Hours of Portimao which is part of the Creventic series. What can the drivers and customer teams look forward to there?

Stefan Wendl:
To a high-performance, well-engineered and eminently driveable car! In addition to the new look, we've been able to optimise a number of details that will benefit teams and drivers alike. To name just a few of the improvements: quicker front spoiler and rear wing adjustment, a new air filter with easier accessibility and a system for automatic tracking of runtimes that is a world first in this segment. The drivers can look forward to optimised ABS with traction control, high-intensity headlights and the new drop-start function as well as seat and helmet ventilation.

However, our focus was also on reducing operating costs for the teams, as this is becoming increasingly relevant in the highly competitive GT3 segment. In the 24 Hours of Portimao, the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be put through its first major test in the hands of customer racing drivers. We would like to thank Creventic for giving us the opportunity to enter the test car without first putting it through FIA homologation.

We accept that we will not have a chance of being placed in the Top Five of the SP4 class. Rik Breukers, Hubert Haupt, Kenneth Heyer and Charles Putman will share the cockpit with Mercedes-AMG driver Maximilian Buhk. All members of our squad have plenty of experience driving GT3 or Mercedes AMG cars.

It is important for us to receive direct feedback from our customers right from the start so that we can apply the finishing touches during the upcoming tests and then begin delivery of the new vehicle towards the end of 2019. In 2020 - the 10th anniversary year of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing - the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 will embark on its debut season in the service of the first customer teams.

Jochen Übler - photo Mercedes


04.07.2019 / MaP

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