Mercedes-AMG Joins IMSA with AMG GT3 Race Car
German racer to compete in GTD classby Ciprian Florea, on
AMG has confirmed its participation in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starting in 2017. The German brand will join the GT Daytona (GTD) class with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 next year. Mercedes’ racing division has partnered with Riley Motorsports for a two-car, factory-supported effort. One car will run as "AMG-Team Riley Motorsports", while one car will run as "WeatherTech Racing." A third race car will hit the track with SunEnergy1 Racing.
The German company says that additional teams are scheduled to announce their plans to race as AMG Custom Sports teams for the 2017 season, but details are not yet available.
The new IMSA entries will enhance Mercedes-AMG’s presence within the U.S. market which, until now, was represented only by private teams racing the SLS AMG GT3 in the Pirelli World Challenge series. In order to provide comprehensive technical assistance for all customer teams, Mercedes-AMG has opened a technology and logistics center in Mooresville, North Carolina. The site will ensure a fast and reliable supply of parts and service for all teams, as well as a service and parts transporter to all IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge Series races for direct, on-site assistance.
"We are thrilled to see the three-pointed star compete in North America’s premier endurance racing series in 2017. Our Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car has already proven itself in worldwide competition and should quickly become a fan favorite. We are very excited about our prospects for the 2017 racing season," said Dietmar Exler, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
The 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship consists of 12 events that take place between January and October. Highlights will include the popular Rolex 24 at Daytona (January 26–29), the Twelve Hours of Sebring (March 15-18), and "Petit Le Mans," which takes place at Road Atlanta (October 5-7). The Mercedes-AMG GT3, which uses a naturally aspirated 6.3-liter V-8 instead of the twin-turbo 4.0-liter unit in the road car, will compete against GT3-spec version of the Porsche 911, Aston Martin Vantage, Lamborghini Huracan, Acura NSX, Audi R8, Ferrari 488, among others, in the GTD class.
Confirmed drivers include Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Gunnar Jeannette, and David MacNeil for the Riley Motorsports teams, and Kenny Habul for SunEnergy1 Racing.
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Why it matters
Although the "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" phrase is no longer the accepted fact it used to be in the 1950s and 1960s, having race-spec versions of road-going vehicles prepped for track action is still very important in the case of sports cars and supercars. By bringing the Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the U.S., the German brand is doing the right thing as the IMSA series is still popular and brings many enthusiasts to the races. Solid results in the series will definitely help with marketing for the AMG GT3, and based on the confirmed driver lineup, Mercedes has everything it needs to win races and compete for the championship. Bleekemolen, Keating, and Jeannette are all experienced drivers with hundreds of races under their belts, include runs at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and several victories across the world.
Read our full review on the Mercedes-AMG GT3 here.