Mercedes-AMG GT3 Wins GTD Pole in 12 Hours of Sebring Debut

17 03 2017

Mercedes-AMG GT3 Wins Pole At Sebring With
No.75 SunEnergy1 Racing Team

SEBRING, FL – March 17, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – The No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and team driver Tristan Vautier gave the Mercedes-AMG GT3 pole position in qualifying for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. This pole position, the first for Mercedes- AMG Motorsport Customer Racing, comes in just the second round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Vautier drove the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to a top lap time of 1.59.738 on the 3.74-mile Sebring road course to top the GTD field.

Vautier’s pole came in the first appearance of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Sebring and in just the second race in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing after debuting in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The top qualifying effort for Mercedes-AMG GT3 also comes 60 years after the three- pointed star last competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring. In the 1957 race, a pair of privateer Mercedes-Benz 300SL cars placed first and third in the GT 3500 class.

This weekend at Sebring, three Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams are competing in the GTD class.

In addition to the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing entry, which Vautier co-drives with Kenny Habul and Boris Said, the No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 are contesting the full 2017 IMSA WeatherTech Championship season.

Ben Keating, who co-drives with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Mario Farnbacher, turned a top lap time of 2:01.284 to qualify seventh at the wheel of the No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Keating will share row four on the GTD grid with Cooper MacNeil, who qualified eighth

with a lap time of 2:01.358 in the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. MacNeil co-drives the WeatherTech Racing entry with Gunnar Jeannette and Shane van Gisbergen.

Race-day on Saturday, March 18th, begins with a 20-minute warm-up at 8:00 a.m. EDT before the scheduled start of the 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at 10:40 a.m. EDT.

Coverage of the 65th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring begins Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Flag-to-flag online coverage will begin at 10:30 a.m. EDT on www.FOXSportsGo.com or with the FOX Sports GO mobile app. More information and live timing and scoring is available on www.imsa.com.

Thomas Jaeger, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Program Coordinator: “To win the GTD pole position in the first appearance of Mercedes-AMG in the 12 Hours of Sebring and in our debut IMSA season is quite an achievement, and we want to congratulate SunEnergy1 Racing and Tristan Vautier. We knew the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams would get the most out of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in its first appearance for the three pointed star in this legendary endurance race, and this is a fantastic start. We celebrate this achievement, but this is a very long and demanding race. Starting from the pole just brings us one step closer to achieving our overall goal of winning the GTD class in tomorrow’s race.”

Tristan Vautier, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is very good here. The track has a lot of mid-speed corners, which are really the corners where the car performs at its best. The setup was good, we chased some issues yesterday, but after the night practice we knew we had the car where we needed to be to battle for the pole position. It was a very good session overall. It’s cool, we are a brand-new team, only in our second race and we are on the pole position. Tomorrow we have 12 hours of racing, the pace should be there and it is just going to be about execution, not making any mistakes, and being there for the last two hours to set us up to race to the end.”

Kenny Habul, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3:

“Congratulations to Tristan and everybody on the team. It’s a wonderful achievement. Thanks first to Mercedes-AMG, I wouldn’t be here without them, they did a lot to help us. This is a brand new endeavor and it was very difficult to start this from zero: we had nothing- no tools, no pit cart, nothing. It’s all brand new, which is a wonderful achievement and we have a wonderful car. I was quick in the car, I love driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and I am really excited for tomorrow.”

Boris Said, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It’s a new team and congratulations to Kenny Habul, he’s the team owner and made all of this possible. I think this is the first pole as a team and driver in his racing career. For a young team like ours, you need everything to do something like this. Tristan is a good driver, the SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 is such a good car, and I think we have a really good chance for the 12 hour race. Twelve more hours to go, and if we’re in the same spot it’s going to be a really good weekend.”

Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It was a really good run. Maybe it’s because of all the downforce, but I think the tires on the Mercedes-AMG GT3 come in pretty early compared to some of the other cars. I think we found grip and pace early, and I had a really good lap. You only have 15 minutes in qualifying, so you have to ask yourself how much you want to push it. You have to start the race on the tires you use in qualifying. If I pushed it all the way, maybe I could have shaved off another tenth-of-a-second or so, but I made the decision to save the tires. I am hopeful that some of those guys that jumped me pushed it the entire time and will see their tires fall off when they start the race. It all should be fun.”

Cooper MacNeil, Driver – No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 was good and our plan was on point the whole time. We wanted the tires warmed up and at peak pressure to go for it around lap three. At that point, I was ready and was able to put in a good lap time. The car is feeling good. There are 17 turns here at Sebring and 3.4-miles so you have to put a whole lap together to go fast here. There is a mix of asphalt, concrete, sea shells in the concrete from the 1940s and a lot of bumps, which makes for a challenging lap. We have all three Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the top 10, a lot better than Daytona, so I am feeling good about our chances for the race tomorrow.”

Source: Mercedes-Benz USA

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18 03 2017

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