Three Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports Entries Make
IMSA WeatherTech Championship Debut
DAYTONA BEACH, FL – January 26, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Mercedes-AMG will begin a new era of North American motorsports competition this weekend at the Rolex 24 At Daytona (January 28 – 29). Three Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports racing teams will debut in the 55th running of the 24-hour long endurance race at Daytona International Speedway (DIS), the first race of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. This is the first time that Mercedes-AMG has participated in both the Rolex 24 and the IMSA racing series.
Three Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports teams will compete in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class with the latest version of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car. The GT3 race car is based on the Mercedes-AMG GT S road car and is equipped with a hand-built, naturally-aspirated 6.3-liter V8.
Mercedes-AMG GT3 IMSA entries from AMG-Team Riley Motorsports, WeatherTech Racing and SunEnergy1 Racing will compete in both the Rolex 24 At Daytona as well as the entirety of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. All teams operate with the full support of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports program.
The No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 will race at Daytona with full-season co-drivers Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen and Rolex 24 additions Adam Christodoulou and Mario Farnbacher.
The No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 team will compete at Daytona with season-long teammates Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette who will co-drive with Shane van Gisbergen and Thomas Jaeger in the Rolex 24.
The No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 team makes its overall IMSA GTD debut at the Rolex 24 with Kenny Habul, Tristan Vautier and Boris Said. Joining these previously-announced teammates for the Rolex 24 are Maro Engel and Paul Morris.
The debut of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car for the US market is accompanied by further development of the AMG Customer Sports Program. The focal point of this program is a specifically established technology and logistics center in Mooresville, North Carolina, which ensures a fast and reliable supply of parts and service for all teams in racing in North America. For direct assistance on-site, Mercedes-AMG will send its own service and parts transporter to all races.
The green flag is scheduled to wave for the 55th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona at 2:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, January 28, 2017. The race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv to an international audience.
Live US television coverage begins with a FOX Network three-hour telecast beginning at 2 p.m. EST. The balance of the Rolex 24 television coverage in the US will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX Sports (FS2), including the race’s final hours, the finish and post-race coverage on FS1 on Sunday, January 29, from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. EST.
Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management, Mercedes-AMG: “After the very successful year of racing by our Customer Sports Teams in Europe in 2016, we are proud to join the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year with our new Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car. I am looking forward to an exciting race for our three Customer Sports Teams in the famous Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend. With AMG celebrating a historic 50th anniversary this year, all three teams have high expectations for AMG’s debut in the IMSA series and at Daytona.”
Thomas Jaeger, AMG Customer Sports Program Coordinator and Driver — No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It’s great to race with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Daytona for the first time, especially as it is AMGs 50th Anniversary. We have put considerable effort into our spare parts and technical support program for our North America AMG Customer Sports teams. With the wide range of services around the Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car that we offer, we are looking forward to a bright future in the U.S. For the Rolex 24, teamwork is the most important factor. All individuals have to work for the same target and always think about what’s the best for the team. Staying focused and making no mistakes for 24 hours is the most challenging aspect.”
Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The heart of AMG is proving and improving Mercedes-Benz cars on the track. AMG has been doing this very successfully for 50 years now. That is something worthy of celebration. From a retail standpoint, there are more AMG cars sold in the USA than anywhere else, therefore, it is only fitting to celebrate 50 years of AMG by racing in the USA’s biggest endurance race. To represent Mercedes-AMG in the Rolex 24 At Daytona is a huge honor and to win in AMG’s first Daytona race entry would be incredible. We have very high expectations of ourselves and our Mercedes-AMG GT3.”
Jeroen Bleekemolen, Driver – No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I’m very proud to debut the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Daytona. I love the car and had the chance to test and race it already. The competition will be very tough, but we will give it our all to make it a successful debut and try to win. I feel we are as ready as we can be. The car has already been proven to be a 24-hour race winner. I have done many laps in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 already coming off the Dubai 24 Hours two weeks ago, taking a pole and leading the race. We are all ready to go for it in Daytona.”
Adam Christodoulou, Driver – No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I’m super excited about my return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona, America’s biggest 24-hour race, and even more privileged to be doing it with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. There are more than 25 cars in our class and all are built these days for what is basically a 24-hour sprint race. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has been developed over the years from the Mercedes SLS, one of the most successful GT race cars out there, so I know we have a good base for this race. I was lucky enough to be a part of the superb line up that won the Nurburgring 24 Hours last year, so to have a repeat here with Mercedes-AMG would be a real dream come true.”
Gunnar Jeannette, Driver – No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “A 24-hour race is always hard on you both from a physical and mental perspective. Here with four drivers it’s a bit easier than at Le Mans with only three, but you still never feel like you have enough rest between stints. By the end of the race you are normally pretty beat up, especially since Daytona is the first race of the season. You don’t have the chance to fine tune your seating position to make it 100% comfortable yet. By the end of this race you always know what you want to change, but hopefully it’s made easier by having a new Rolex!”
Maro Engel, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It is fantastic that we are able to participate in this important race now for the first time with our Mercedes-AMG GT3, which had such a successful first year. I am always proud to be in one of the cars and we are aiming for a successful debut on North American soil with the Mercedes-AMG GT3. It is an all-around pretty-strong car and as a driver it gives you a lot of confidence. It’s a great to car to drive and very well balanced, mainly due to the fantastic base we have coming from the road car, the Mercedes-AMG GT S and more recently the Mercedes-AMG GT R.”
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For more information on AMG Customer Sports, please visit www.mercedes-amg.com/customer
Source: Mercedes-Benz USA