Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, sums up progress during the first half of the year and looks ahead to the second half of the season
- This is what happened: Results and facts
- News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
- Three questions for Stefan Wendl
- Social media news: What’s new online?
This is what happened: Results and facts
- Formula 1: Valtteri Bottas on the podium in the Austrian Grand Prix
- Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe: Double podium for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the first race at Misano
- GT4 European Series: Mercedes-AMG GT4 victorious in both races on the Misano World Circuit
- IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: Jeroen Bleekemolen, James Cox and Dylan Murry win the race at Watkins Glen
- China GT Championship: Two victories for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the Shanghai International Circuit
Double podium and class victory in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe: At Misano in Italy, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport continued its successful run of results in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. On Saturday, Raffaele Marciello (ITA) and Vincent Abril (MON) produced a sensational finish to the 60-minute race, crossing the line as runners-up just tenths of a second behind the winners. Luca Stolz and Maro Engel (both GER) took third place to make it a double podium for Mercedes-AMG. On Sunday, Engel and Stolz consolidated the top spot in both the driver’s and team championships of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe for BLACK FALCON with a P4 finish, including the fastest race lap. Nico Bastian (GER) and Thomas Neubauer (FRA) won the Silver Cup class after an impressive charge through the field from 19th on the grid, thereby firming up their lead in this particular category. The day before, it had been the turn of Fabian Schiller (GER) and Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS) to celebrate the class win in the Silver Cup.
In the Blancpain GT Sports Club series, also contested at the Misano World Circuit, Lee Mowle made a podium appearance on Saturday for a P2 finish in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 fielded by ERC Sport. The British driver had to retire from the Sunday race after being involved in a collision.
Mercedes-AMG dominant in the GT4 European Series: Mercedes-AMG crowned a successful race weekend in the GT4 European Series with a double podium on Sunday. In a dramatic finish, the Leipert Motorsport pairing of Max Koebolt (NED) and Jan Kisiel (POL) fended off strong competition and now lead the Silver Cup standings. Two other Mercedes-AMG drivers, Alex Lambertz (GER) and Romain Monti (FRA) of Team Bullitt Racing, came home in third place to make it a highly successful weekend for the brand. Bullitt Racing and Leipert Motorsport had already dominated the race on Saturday – albeit in reverse order. At the end of the 60 minutes, Lambertz and Monti took the chequered flag in first place, with Koebolt and Kisiel in fourth overall and third in class. For Bullitt Racing, this was a first win of the 2019 campaign.
Victory in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: Riley Motorsports registered their first victory of the season in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. At Watkins Glen in the USA, Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), James Cox (USA) and Dylan Murry (USA) prevailed in the four-hour race against a large field of opponents and are now up to fifth in the team standings. Mercedes-AMG also leads the constructors’ championship on 121 points. What’s more, pole position had been secured for Mercedes-AMG by Indy Dontje (NED) in the number 33 GT4 entered by Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport. In the six-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race, however, Mercedes-AMG team Riley Motorsports were involved in a no-fault accident which brought their challenge to a premature end.
Top Three finish in the Super GT: LEON RACING were delighted with a podium finish in the Super GT at Buriram, Thailand. The team led by Naoya Gamou and Haruki Kurosawa (both JPN) took third place after 66 laps, their best result to date which moves them up to sixth place in the drivers’ standings. LEON Racing are currently fifth in the team championship.
An almost perfect race weekend in the China GT Championship: In the China GT Championship, Mercedes-AMG celebrated three wins in four GT3 races. Mercedes-AMG drivers Adam Christodoulou (GBR) and Eric Zang (CHN) of Toro Racing won the first of the two 60-minute contests. The honours in Round 2 went to Alessio Picariello (BEL) and Jeffrey Lee (THA) of EWS Craft-Bamboo Racing. A P3 for EWS Craft-Bamboo Racing (race one) and for YC Racing (race two) made it two double podiums at the Shanghai International Circuit.
The race weekend was rounded off in style with a one-two finish in the GT4 class: Sunny Wong (HKG) and Rainey He Xiaole (CHN) in the number 6 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Phantom Pro Racing won ahead of the number 5 sister car driven by Alex Fontana (CH) and Christian Chia (CHN). Phantom Pro Racing have a comfortable lead in the team championship.
Three questions for Stefan Wendl
When one 24-hour race finishes, preparations for the next begin. Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, takes a look at the two standout fixtures on the Mercedes-AMG motorsport calendar and gives us more details about the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 which will be put through its first test under racing conditions at Portimao next weekend (5th – 7th July).
Stefan, in this year’s 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, there was no shortage of thrilling racing action and there were a few disappointments along the way, but ultimately Mercedes-AMG once again had some degree of success to celebrate. How would you sum up this year’s big race in the Eifel?
Stefan Wendl: To get onto the Nürburgring podium, a lot of factors have to fall into place: you need a reliable car, a well-versed team and a driver crew who don’t make any errors. Success in motorsport isn’t something that can be planned for, especially not on the Nordschleife, and consequently there were no guarantees that we would be back on the podium after our appearance there last year. In the circumstances, we are very happy with P3 in the general classification for BLACK FALCON as well as the class win for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 which finished first in the SP10 for the second year in a row. It was obviously a great pity that four of our other cars failed to finish after looking like they might be in contention for a podium or even overall victory. All in all, though, we can be very satisfied with our performance – the podium, the class win, and the two pole positions we achieved in an outstanding qualifying session once again demonstrated the strength in depth of our cars, teams and drivers.
The next big 24-hour race weekend is Spa which comes at the end of July. Could you tell us how Mercedes-AMG will be approaching this event?
Stefan Wendl: We will once again have strong teams and drivers in the line-up, and we are well set up for the race with ten cars fielded by AKKA ASP, BLACK FALCON, Goodsmile Racing, GroupM Racing, RAM Racing, Scuderia Villorba Corse and STRAKKA Racing. The teams and drivers will be applying the final touches during the test days that are currently taking place on the track at Spa-Francorchamps. The opposition will be there in strength, and the standard of competition will be enormously high; it is probably the most challenging GT3 race in the world. After our win with the SLS AMG GT3 in 2013, it’s high time that we got ourselves back on top – this time with the Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 was wheeled out for the first time in the context of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. This coming weekend, the new GT3 generation from Affalterbach will contest its first test under race conditions in the 24 Hours of Portimao which is part of the Creventic series. What can the drivers and customer teams look forward to there?
Stefan Wendl: To a high-performance, well-engineered and eminently driveable car! In addition to the new look, we’ve been able to optimise a number of details that will benefit teams and drivers alike. To name just a few of the improvements: quicker front spoiler and rear wing adjustment, a new air filter with easier accessibility and a system for automatic tracking of runtimes that is a world first in this segment. The drivers can look forward to optimised ABS with traction control, high-intensity headlights and the new drop-start function as well as seat and helmet ventilation. However, our focus was also on reducing operating costs for the teams, as this is becoming increasingly relevant in the highly competitive GT3 segment. In the 24 Hours of Portimao, the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be put through its first major test in the hands of customer racing drivers. We would like to thank Creventic for giving us the opportunity to enter the test car without first putting it through FIA homologation. We accept that we will not have a chance of being placed in the Top Five of the SP4 class. Rik Breukers, Hubert Haupt, Kenneth Heyer and Charles Putman will share the cockpit with Mercedes-AMG driver Maximilian Buhk. All members of our squad have plenty of experience driving GT3 or Mercedes AMG cars. It is important for us to receive direct feedback from our customers right from the start so that we can apply the finishing touches during the upcoming tests and then begin delivery of the new vehicle towards the end of 2019. In 2020 – the 10th anniversary year of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing – the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 will embark on its debut season in the service of the first customer teams.