Highs and lows for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in IMSA season opener at Daytona

Highs and lows for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in IMSA season opener at Daytona

27.01.2020: Customer Racing: Rolex 24 At Daytona Mercedes-AMG Motorsport had a mixed weekend during the IMSA season opener at Daytona. In the Daytona 24-hour race, traditionally the opening round of the IMSA

Customer Racing: Rolex 24 At Daytona




Mercedes-AMG Motorsport had a mixed weekend during the IMSA season opener at Daytona. In the Daytona 24-hour race, traditionally the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the #74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 ended up in eleventh place of the GTD class.




In the four-hour opening race of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge that took place on the support programme of the classic endurance race, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach achieved a convincing clean sweep of the top three.


Victory went to Customer Racing Team Riley Motorsports (#35) with drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), Jim Cox and Dylan Murry (both USA).


•    A 1-2-3 for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the four-hour race of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge


•    Eleventh place in the GTD class for the #74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Rolex 24 At Daytona


•    Victory for the Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 #35


•    Second and third place for Winward Racing (#57 and #4)


Daytona Beach – This weekend, Daytona International Speedway once again served as the venue for the traditional season opener of the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. A total of 38 cars, among them the new #74 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Riley Motorsports, took on the Daytona 24-hour race in excellent weather conditions on Saturday afternoon.



The newly configurated driver quartet of Lawson Aschenbach, Ben Keating, Gar Robinson (all USA) and Felipe Fraga (BRA) drove the new #74 Mercedes-AMG GT3 on its debut in the prestigious North American race series. The #74 car had started the race from 15th place on the grid.



With a consistently strong performance and a cleverly chosen strategy, Riley Motorsports managed to get the car with starting number 74 temporarily up into fifth place during the first 18 hours of the race and thus show the potential of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3.


However, a minor electronic failure abruptly stopped progress: after a brief repair break, the #74 was able to rejoin the race, but considerably dropped back in the classification. After 24 hours, Riley Motorsports (#74) crossed the finish line in eleventh place of the GTD class.




A 1-2-3 for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge



On Friday already, a total of seven Mercedes-AMG GT4 had started the season with the first four-hour race of the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. With the #35 Riley Motorsports car, Jim Cox (USA) started the race from 15th place on the grid and managed to make up valuable positions in the opening stages already.



Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) having taken over the wheel of the #35 car in tenth place, he started an impressive progress and made it all the way up into first place. Dylan Murray (USA) built on the good achievements by his teammates and kept the #35 Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the lead. However, with Winward Racing (#57), another Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Team with driver pairing Bryce Ward (USA) and Philip Ellis (GER) also still had its eyes set on victory.



Having started from 18th place, the #57 Mercedes-AMG GT4 had worked its way up to second place over the course of the race. Final driver Ellis put the leading Mercedes-AMG GT4 under pressure and even managed to claim a temporary lead. After the final pit stop, he had to let the #35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 past again.




A final attack never materialised as the field didn’t get back to racing speed following a caution just before the four hours had elapsed. As a result, Riley Motorsports (#35) safely drove victory home, followed by Winward Racing (#57) in second place.



Another Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 completed the clean sweep of the podium for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport: Russell Ward (USA) and Indy Dontje (NED), who had started the race in third place and consistently ranked among the front runners in the field, crossed the finish line in third place with the #4 Winward Racing entry. Another top ten result rounded out the strong achievement: Eric Foss (USA) and Jeff Mosing (USA) secured eighth place with the #56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.



With the clean sweep of the top three for the Mercedes-AMG GT4, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport successfully started off its mission title defence in the series’ manufacturers’ standings. For the first time ever, the Mercedes-AMG GT4 locked out all the three podium slots in a race in North America.



Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing:
“For us, the IMSA season opener was a weekend with highs and lows. With the triple victory for our Mercedes-AMG GT4, we had a perfect start of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. However, we can’t be satisfied with the performance of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the 24-hour race. The preparation stage for the race was very brief and we weren’t able to fully keep up with the pace of the top 3 in the GTD class.



Thanks to a consistent drive and a clever strategy, Riley Motorsports and its driver quartet in the new configuration temporarily moved up as high as fifth place and showed the potential of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. When we can also get to the point where we were last year with the balancing of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, the results will follow as well. We still have some work ahead of us, but we are optimistically looking forward to the next races. We will be attacking again at Sebring!”



Result GTD class, Rolex 24 At Daytona*:




1.    48    Lamborghini Huracan GT3    Paul Miller Racing    Bryan Sellers (USA), Madison Snow (USA), Corey Lewis (USA), Andrea Caldarelli (ITA)

2.    44    Lamborghini Huracan GT3    GRT Magnus    Marco Mapelli (ITA), Spencer Pumpelly (USA), John Potter (USA), Andy Lally (USA)

3.    88    Audi R8 LMS GT3    WRT Speedstar Audi Sport    Mirko Bartolotti (ITA), Rolf Ineichen (SUI), Daniel Morad (CAN), Dries Vanthoor (BEL)
…                    

11.    74    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Riley Motorsports    Lawson Aschenbach (USA), Felipe Fraga (BRA), Ben Keating (USA), Gar Robinson (USA)


* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser




Result GS class, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Daytona*:




1.    35    Mercedes-AMG GT4    Riley Motorsports    Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), Jim Cox (USA), Dylan Murry (USA)

2.    57    Mercedes-AMG GT4    Winward Racing    Philip Ellis (GER), Bryce Ward (USA)

3.    4    Mercedes-AMG GT4    Winward Racing    Indy Dontje (NED), Russell Ward (USA)
…                    

8.    56    Mercedes-AMG GT4    Murillo Racing    Eric Foss (USA), Jeff Mosing (USA)

20.    51    Mercedes-AMG GT4    MCC MOTORSPORT    Atila Abreu (BRA), Leonardo Sanchez (BRA)

21.    14    Mercedes-AMG GT4    Bluff City Racing / Autometrics Motorsports    Dan Clarke (USA), Cory Friedman (USA), Anton Dias Perera (USA)

25.    65    Mercedes-AMG GT4    Murillo Racing    Brent Mosing (USA), Justin Piscitell (USA), Tim Probert (USA)



* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser

 
 


Jochen Übler, photos Mercedes

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/mercedes-amg-motorsport-imsa-opener-daytona---203141.html

27.01.2020 / MaP

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