Nine Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Across Three Classes in Two IMSA Racing Series Compete this Week at Sebring International Raceway

15.03.2023: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Bring Rolex 24 At Daytona Winning Momentum and Early-Season Championship Leads to the 71st Running of the 12 Hours of Sebring Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams and drivers bring Rolex 24

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Bring Rolex 24 At Daytona Winning Momentum and Early-Season Championship Leads to the 71st Running of the 12 Hours of Sebring
Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams and drivers bring Rolex 24 At Daytona winning momentum and early-season leads in several championships to this week’s 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway, March 15 – 18.

Nine Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams across three classes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series compete on the legendary Sebring road course today through Saturday’s 71st running of the legendary 12-hour sports car race on the 3.74-mile Sebring road course.

The second rounds of both this year’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Michelin Pilot Challenge series, Saturday’s featured 12 Hours of Sebring is scheduled to start at 10:10 a.m. EDT. Live coverage of the in-progress race airs on the USA Network on Saturday starting at 4:30 p.m. EDT and straight through to the finish and post-race interviews until 10:30 p.m. EDT.

In January’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition Mercedes-AMG GT3 team and co-drivers Cooper MacNeil, Jules Gounon, Daniel Juncadella and Maro Engel broke through for the first WeatherTech Championship GTD Pro class victory for a Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The win was a fitting send off for retiring team driver MacNeil, but early-season championship leaders Gounon, Juncadella and Engel and the WeatherTech/Proton team now have set a podium repeat as the goal at Sebring on Saturday. Last year in the 12 Hour, MacNeil, Engel and Gounon secured a third-place finish in just the second race of the new GTD Pro category.

The WeatherTech/Proton No. 79 is one of three Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams competing in the 12 Hours of Sebring and the full-season WeatherTech Championship.

The No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports and No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams compete in the GTD class, and both were in a strong position to win in that class at the Rolex 24.

Mike Skeen, Mikael Grenier and Kenton Koch co-drive the Team Korthoff No. 32 this weekend while full-season teammates Russell Ward and Philip Ellis are joined in the No. 57 by longtime co-driver Indy Dontje at Sebring.

Team Korthoff led a GTD class-high 227 race laps at Daytona, but a potentially race-winning performance came to a crushing end with a wheel bearing issue halfway into the 18th hour of the race. The repaired No. 32 returned to finish the Rolex 24, and the team and drivers now look to recapture the same performance demonstrated for three quarters of the race at Daytona and a year ago at Sebring. With Juncadella joining Skeen and then team driver Stevan McAleer in last year’s 12 Hour, Team Korthoff finished a season-best second in GTD in 2022 at Sebring.

The Winward No. 57 led 177 race laps and contended for the GTD victory until the final 30 minutes of the Daytona opener. Ellis battled with the other GTD and GTD Pro leaders, only to be knocked out of the race after contact on a late restart, and now joins his teammates in looking for a rebound at Sebring on Saturday.

In Michelin Pilot Challenge competition, six Mercedes-AMG GT4 teams compete in the top-tier Grand Sport (GS) class in Thursday’s two-hour race that starts at 1:20 p.m. EDT.

Murillo Racing placed both of its Mercedes-AMG GT4 entries in the top-10 at the Daytona opener and looks for more success this weekend.

The No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak finished fourth at Daytona while the team’s No. 56 sister entry of Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss crossed the finish line in eighth. Both Murillo teams have run well at Sebring in the recent past, with Kenny Murillo making his GS debut at Sebring in 2020 and Mosing and Foss battling for the win until the end before a fourth place finish last year.

Winward complements its GTD entry in the WeatherTech Championship this year with the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 for Bryce Ward and Daniel Morad who run their second Pilot Challenge race together on Thursday.

Longtime Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer team Lone Star Racing competes in GS this year with the duo of Anton Dias Perera and Scott Andrews in the No. 27 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. The team ran in the lead pack at Daytona and still managed to finish 15th despite a late pit infraction penalty.

A first-year Mercedes-AMG Customer team set for its second Pilot Challenge race at Sebring is the No. 23 JTR Motorsports Engineering Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Anthony McIntosh and Jared Thomas.

The Pilot Challenge Mercedes-AMG customer lineup at Sebring is completed by reigning Bronze Cup Champions Gary Ferrera and Kris Wilson in the No. 11 Wilsports Mercedes-AMG GT4.

The Sebring 12 Hour weekend gets underway today with Pilot Challenge practice and qualifying. WeatherTech Championship competitors take to the track for the first time Thursday for three practice runs, culminating with a nighttime session from 7:45 – 9:15 p.m. EDT. The GTD Pro and GTD classes qualify together in a 15-minute session starting at 9:15 a.m. EDT Friday while race-day Saturday starts with a 20-minute warm-up session at 8 a.m. EDT before the 71st running of the 12 Hours of Sebring goes green at 10:10 a.m. EDT.

Maro Engel, Driver – No. 79 WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition Mercedes-AMG GT3:
“I am really looking forward to Sebring. Another absolutely iconic race on the schedule – on the world calendar – and last year there we had our first podium together as a team with WeatherTech Racing and Proton, Cooper, Jules and myself. It was amazing to send off Cooper with a Daytona win and now we look forward to Sebring.

It’s a great track and a circuit on which our Mercedes-AMG GT3 has gone very well. We are looking for another strong run this weekend. There’s plenty of opportunity out there if you race smart and if you race well. We will try to get ourselves in contention, we always have a strong car with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, and I believe a really strong team with WeatherTech Racing and Proton behind us.

It will be up to Jules, Dani and myself to execute at the best level and hopefully we will be there at the end of the race. Another podium is the aim, and another win would be a dream.”

Daniel Juncadella, Driver – No. 79 WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition Mercedes-AMG GT3:
“We just ran a smooth race at Daytona with no mistakes and with a great strategy toward the end of the race. It was a great start to the year in IMSA and now going to Sebring as the championship leaders. It’s time to build on that lead and continue successfully into the season.

I really enjoyed my first taste of Sebring last year with Team Korthoff. I guess the track suits our car pretty well, so even if we have slight changes to the rules that don’t favor us, we are still going to be contenders for a strong result. We have won races or had top results when the rules didn’t favor our car in the past, so if you have a clean race with a good strategy, you can have a good result.

The 12 Hours of Sebring is another highlight of the year, so I really want to perform at our best. We are very motivated to do so, and I believe we have a strong team behind us to fight for what we want.”

Jules Gounon, Driver – No. 79 WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition Mercedes-AMG GT3: “
Our goal this weekend will be to maximize our performance and hopefully get a good result and big points for the championship. We had a big fight at Daytona with several other cars and extracted the most out of our Mercedes-AMG GT3 to get the win.

Cooper did a great job, and my teammates Maro and Daniel drove amazingly. But mostly the team did a super job in strategy and car preparation. I am very happy for how it went and really looking forward.”

Philip Ellis, Driver – No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “
We are looking forward to the 12 Hours of Sebring, especially after Daytona. The team showed great potential again. We also had a great race at Sebring last year until we had a technical issue while leading.

I think we know pretty well what to do with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, everybody has been through Sebring before, and we had a great test with all of the boys. So, I think we are ready and prepared to have a great and successful weekend at the 12 Hour and hopefully score some valuable points for the championship. That is, of course, still our aim this year for Winward. It was very heartbreaking to just miss out at Daytona with only half an hour to go. It just makes us stronger as a team coming back to Sebring.

It’s a huge strategy play in the race to be there in the last half hour to get a shot at the podium. All of our guys are experienced enough and have done enough in IMSA to know how to get us there to fight for the podium at the end. That’s our goal.”

Kenton Koch, Driver – No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3
: “It feels good to come back for the 12 Hours of Sebring! We had a good test a couple of weeks ago there, everyone feels confident in the Mercedes-AMG GT3, and we were able to run through many times. We learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully, all of that preparation turns into a good result!”

Eric Foss, Driver – No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “
This is going to be the last season for me and Jeff, so I am just really looking forward to continuing a good run this season. We had a good points score at Daytona, and it’s good to have the No. 72 team back this year.

I first raced here at Sebring in 1999, I always love racing here, and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 has always been a really balanced platform, which makes it a really good car here, especially with how bumpy this place is.”

Kenny Murillo, Driver – No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4:
“Sebring is where I made my GS debut in the summer race here in 2020. It was with Tim Probert in the No. 65 Mercedes-AMG GT4, and I learned a lot that weekend. I still implement a lot of what I learned then into my racing now. I feel like every time we roll out of the trailer it is pretty good here.

We are confident going into this week. It’s a really long season, it is all about being consistent, and staying in the top five is the goal. At the end of the year, if you have really been consistent all season, you could have a really good shot at winning the championship.”
Adam Saal - photos Mercedes


15.03.2023 / MaP

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