Mario Farnbacher and Adam Christodoulou Join No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Team For Rolex 24

December 20th, 2016 by

No. 33

IMSA WeatherTech Series testing, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL, December , 2016. (Photo by Brian Cleary/bcpix.com)

Farnbacher to Co-Drive with Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen in Full 2017 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) December 20th, 2016 – Tomball Texas Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen will co-drive the No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Mario Farnbacher and Adam Christodoulou in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s season-opening 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 28 – 29, at Daytona International Speedway. Full-season teammates for the fourth year, Keating and Bleekemolen will race with Farnbacher, Christodoulou and Mercedes-AMG for the first time in the Daytona opener as they kick-off their bid for the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech GT Daytona (GTD) class team and driver championships. Keating, Bleekemolen and the No. 33 team finished second in the GTD championships this past season. Farnbacher will also join Keating and Bleekemolen for all four rounds of the 2017 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (NAEC), which also begins with Rolex 24 opener. “There’s a lot of great driver lineups in GTD for the Rolex 24 and I just want to make sure that we are one of them,” Keating said. I believe we have definitely achieved that and I am really excited about the four-driver lineup that we have for the 33.” Farnbacher races with Keating, Bleekemolen and the No. 33 Riley team for the first time after being one of their major competitors this year and last. “It seemed like very often this year it was always us racing against Mario in the No. 23 car at the end of several of these races,” Keating said. “We always had a lot of fun battles and I know we will have a really great team between Mario, myself and Jeroen for the entire NAEC.” Christodoulou is an AMG Customer Sports driver who was part of the winning overall team at this year’s 24 Hours of Nurburgring, leading a convincing top-four sweep in the grueling race by Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams. He returns to the Rolex 24 for the first time since finishing sixth in the GT class in 2011, his only previous appearance in the twice-around-the-clock Daytona race.

Team Riley

IMSA WeatherTech Series testing, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL, December , 2016. (Photo by Brian Cleary/bcpix.com)

“To have Adam come on our team for Daytona will be great,” Keating said. “He is an AMG driver and has been running this car in events all around the globe. It is also nice that he has experience here in the Rolex 24. That is key for someone coming from across the pond to have experience at Daytona with four classes, navigating the traffic and the different rules. He is going to be a great teammate.” Keating co-drove to the GTD class win in the 2015 Rolex 24 but his accomplished teammate Bleekemolen, surprisingly, is still looking for his first Daytona victory. “A win at the Rolex 24 is one of the biggest races still missing on my resume,” Bleekemolen said. “I have been so close on many occasions but always something seemed to go wrong. To win there with Mercedes-AMG in their first race would be awesome. It’s great to be back in the Mercedes-AMG GT3, the car is developed very well, and being back with the Riley team is great. We know each other well after all these years.” One of the close races with Farnbacher was at Sebring in 2015 where Bleekemolen passed him for the lead with just minutes to go only to have the No. 33 lose its engine moments later due to a pinhole leak in the radiator. Farnbacher went on to take the victory. “I have the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans already on my win list,” Farnbacher said. “Still on my bucket list is the win at the Rolex 24 and our main goal of the championship. I am super proud to be part of this team, it’s one of the best teams in the paddock. Riley Motorsports always has the cars to win, and I am 100% sure that the Mercedes-AMG package for 2017 will also be the same winning one from the past.” Christodoulou has built a strong career-record of success in major endurance races since his Rolex 24 debut in 2011. In addition to this year’s Nurburgring win, he also has overall victories in the 2015 Paul Ricard 24 and 2012 Barcelona 24, as well as a class win in Nurburgring 24 in 2013. His first GT race win came in GRAND-AM in 2010 when he co-drove to victory with John Edwards at Lime Rock Park. “I’m really looking forward to coming back to where my GT career first started back in 2010,” Christodoulou said. “I’m extremely grateful and honored that Riley and AMG have entrusted me to be a part of their team. I’ve been training hard over the winter in preparation for the season ahead, and I’m heading out to the Roar Before the 24 to get to know everyone. I’ve been lucky enough to race in the same car as Jeroen before and I know Ben and Mario are both fast, so I’m really looking forward to working and racing with them.”

Motorsports

IMSA WeatherTech Series testing, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL, December , 2016. (Photo by Brian Cleary/bcpix.com)

Bill Riley is the Team Owner and Director of AMG-Team Riley Motorsports. “It has been great working with AMG,” Riley said. “They are really great people all the way through. They have engineers embedded in our team, which is really good because they have so much experience with the car and we have a lot of experience at Daytona. So we’re putting that all together and hopefully we’ll have a strong outing. I think the car showed its foolproof reliability during the recent testing at Daytona. We tuned it up, had a strong test and hopefully we’ll be just as strong in January.” Next up for AMG-Team Riley Motorsports is the traditional Roar Before the Rolex 24 three-day test at Daytona International Speedway, January 6 – 8. Noteworthy – Mario Farnbacher is the younger brother of Dominik Farnbacher, one of Keating’s winning co-drivers in the 2015 Rolex 24. “In the last six years that I have run in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, I have run with a Farnbacher as my teammate,” Keating said. “It just wouldn’t feel right to me if that wasn’t the case again in 2017.” – Christodoulou remembers his first career 24-hour race at Daytona in 2011 very clearly. “I had age, stamina and energy on my side, and I don’t think I slept too much, but what an incredible race,” Christodoulou said. “Back then it was the biggest race of my career as the longest race I had taken part in up to that point was three hours. It was something completely new to me, a real eye opener, and taught me a lot, especially that you should never give up in such a race. We had a tire blow out and lost a rear door, but still made a comeback and finished sixth. Since then it set me up perfectly for any other 24-hour race.”

Posted in News