German racer to compete in GTD class

Mercedes-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.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

Mercedes-AMG Joins IMSA with AMG GT3 Race Car
- image 694682

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.

Press Release

Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) and Mercedes-AMG announced today that it will compete in North America’s premier endurance racing series for the first time. The Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports Program will enter the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with several top teams. For the upcoming 2017 IMSA season, Mercedes-AMG is partnering with the successful Riley Motorsports team, which will campaign two Mercedes- AMG GT3 race cars. One of the team’s cars will run as "AMG-Team Riley Motorsports," and one car will run as WeatherTech Racing, with sponsorship from the series’ title sponsor. The AMG Customer Sports team SunEnergy1 Racing will also campaign an AMG GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Additional teams are scheduled to announce their intent to race as AMG Customer Sports teams in advance of the 2017 season. Mercedes-AMG will be on-site at each race throughout the 2017 race calendar to provide comprehensive technical assistance for all Mercedes-AMG GT3 Customer Sports Teams.

With the entry in the popular series, Mercedes-AMG enhances its motorsport presence within the US market. Previously, the Mercedes-AMG brand was successfully represented in the US by private race teams with the SLS AMG GT3 in the Pirelli World Challenge.

All AMG Customer Sports teams in the US will race the latest version of the naturally-aspirated, 6.3-liter V8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 2017.

Based on the Mercedes-AMG GT S road car, Mercedes-AMG GT3 race cars are competing in the IMSA GT Daytona (GTD) class, which features vehicles built in accordance with international GT3 regulations. The 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship consists of 12 events that take place between January and October. Among the highlights of the race season are the popular Rolex 24 at Daytona (January 26–29), the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (March 15-18) and "Petit Le Mans," which takes place at Road Atlanta (October 5-7).

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 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge Series races.

Dietmar Exler, President and CEO, MBUSA: "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."

Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management, Mercedes-AMG: "North America is traditionally a very important market for Mercedes-AMG and the enthusiasm for our performance vehicles is tremendous. The high demand for the Mercedes-AMG GT3, particularly after the legendary 1-2-3-4 finish at this year’s 24- hour race at the Nürburgring, has inspired us to establish a Customer Sports Program in the US. I’m very much looking forward to cooperating with all of the teams and wish them success in the upcoming season."

Jochen Bitzer, Director of AMG Customer Sports Program: "Our aspiration for expanding the AMG Customer Sports Program in the US is to provide the same level of comprehensive support that we have provided to teams in Europe for several years. This requires a close collaboration with the teams in terms of know- how and race track expertise, which we are now ideally positioned for. We are very excited for a thrilling and hopefully successful season."

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: