Mercedes-AMG teams takes victory and three of the overall top-five finishing positions at Cota

Mercedes-AMG teams takes victory and three of the overall top-five finishing positions at Cota

19.11.2019: Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Team Black Falcon Win Second-Consecutive Hankook 24H USA Overall Victory at Circuit of The Americas No. 4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 Scores Overall and A6-Pro Victory

Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Team Black Falcon Win Second-Consecutive Hankook 24H USA Overall Victory at Circuit of The Americas
 


No. 4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 Scores Overall and A6-Pro Victory in Hankook 24H USA as Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Earn Four Podium Finishes Across Three Classes at Circuit of The Americas

 
 
 

The No. 4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 team of Ben Keating, Cooper MacNeil, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga won the Hankook 24H USA at Circuit of The Americas (COTA) this past weekend in a dominating run from the pole. This victory was the second-consecutive win for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Black Falcon in the Hankook 24H USA.



The repeat win highlighted a run of four podium finishes in three different classes for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams that included first and third in the top-tier A6-Pro class and runner-up showings in the A6-Am and SPX classes.
 



The No. 4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was the team to beat all weekend, topping day and night practice sessions and winning the pole with Fraga in qualifying Friday.
 


Keating, MacNeil, Bleekemolen and Fraga combined to lead overall for the majority of Saturday’s race-opening 11 hours, the first part of a unique two-segment format for the 24H USA that ended at 10:30 p.m. local time Saturday evening.
 


When competition resumed at 8 a.m. Sunday, the No. 4 team continued its commanding run to lead every lap of the final 13-hour segment. Keating took the checkered flag four laps ahead of the second-place competitor and joined his teammates in setting a new distance record for the third-year event. The No. 4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 completed 610 laps on the 3.4-mile Grand Prix circuit, improving on the 608-lap total set in the inaugural COTA 24H in 2017.
 
 


In addition to the winners, the No. 85 CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Charlie Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster and Shane Lewis finished fourth overall and second in the Pro-Am class. Espenlaub crossed the finish line just over 20 seconds behind the class winner.
 


Fifth place overall went to the No. 90 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG GT3, which was the No. 4 Black Falcon team’s strongest challenger before losing 20 minutes in the pits for a rear suspension repair on Sunday. Team drivers Luca Stolz, Hendrik Still, Martin Konrad and Axcil Jefferies rebounded for the overall top-five and third in the A6-Pro class.
 


The No. 464 Black Falcon Team Textar Mercedes-AMG GTX, which is a Mercedes-AMG GT4 modified for SPX division competition, finished eighth overall and second in the SPX class with co-drivers Alex Böhm, Axel König, Norbert Schneider, Axel Sartingen and Daniel Schwerfeld.
 



Ben Keating, Driver – No. 4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3:
“With this particular series, it’s a big deal to know exactly how to get a strategy advantage. Being able to take advantage of the yellow-flag periods, which are called ‘Code 60’ cautions, is key to winning this race. We were in a position to take advantage of every Code 60. We were lucky and good, but we didn’t have any problems at all the entire race weekend.



We just focused on taking care of our car as this has become one of the toughest 24-hour races. I am really proud of our Mercedes-AMG GT3 car in being able to make it to the end without incident. We didn’t have any issues at any point the entire weekend. It was a flawless run for the car, but I also have to give major kudos to the Black Falcon team. The preparation and engineering are incredible, and they called a perfect race.”
 
 
 

Cooper MacNeil, Driver – No. 4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3:
“An absolutely fantastic way to end the 2019 racing season. It was my first overall 24-hour win and doing it with two new teammates in Ben and Felipe in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 is very cool. I hadn't driven a Mercedes-AMG GT3 since 2017.



A big thanks to the Black Falcon guys, Ben, Felipe, and Jeroen for a flawless effort all weekend. We never had any real issues with the car or on pit lane. The drivers never put a wheel off and kept the car clean all race. To give the Black Falcon their second win in two years at COTA is special. Big thanks to Mercedes-AMG as well. We had a fast and reliable car all weekend.”
 


Jeroen Bleekemolen, Driver – No. 4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3: “
It was almost perfect. We didn’t have any issues, no mistakes by the teams or drivers, and a really good strategy. It was awesome, couldn’t have gone better really, but it was a really tough race. We heard Formula 1 drivers complain about lots of bumps at the track.



It was pretty bumpy, but the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was flawless. Really, no issues on the bumps when lots of other cars had trouble with them, but our car was good until the end. It was really impressive that everything held up. We had a great time and it was awesome to finish our American season with an overall 24-hour race win.”
 



Joe Foster, Driver – No. 85 CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:
“The thing we like about the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is its adaptability to conditions. We actually adjusted it during the race, because conditions change from the day into the nighttime. We could tune it during pit stops as we went. It was good with the tires in the long runs. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has good adjustability, is built like a tank and survived a very difficult race like the overall winners.



It’s a tough car. We knew the circuit was bumpy, so we definitely prepared for that with the right ride height and setup on the car to make it last. In the end, it worked, and we had an exciting back-and-forth race for the lead. To have it be less than 30 seconds apart after 24 hours of racing shows what a close race it was. It was definitely a game of strategy, pit stops and trying to not make mistakes, so it was a lot of fun.”
 


Shane Lewis, Driver – No. 85 CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:
“The pounding our Mercedes-AMG GT3 Mercedes took over the course of the 24 hours was brutal. Harsher than any other 24-hour race I have ever been part of in my entire career, but our car never missed a beat. Not one single issue. The build quality of this car is amazing!



For everyone that watched the live stream coverage, they know what a nail biter it was for the last several hours. Swapping the lead over and over, and 22 seconds is all that separated us from the top step. Proud, tired, sore. Gave it everything I had every single lap”
 
 
 


Adam Saal - photos Mercedes

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19.11.2019 / MaP

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