Mercedes-AMG GT3 to race in 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
MERCEDES’ FIRST CAR IN SERIES WILL COMPETE IN NEW-LOOK GT DAYTONA CLASS November 9th, 2016 Mercedes-AMG is coming to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2017. Mercedes-Benz USA and Mercedes-AMG unveiled their plans on Wednesday morning to join the IMSA WeatherTech Championship. Riley Motorsports will race two Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars in the GT Daytona class. One of the team’s cars will run as AMG-Team Riley Motorsports, and the other as WeatherTech Racing. Additional teams are expected to race the Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars as customer teams. “We are thrilled to see the three-pointed star compete in North America’s premier endurance racing series in 2017,” said Dietmar Exler, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. “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.” “It’s really an honor to be aligned with AMG,” Riley said. “The car looks so fast even standing still, and I can’t wait to start running it in anger. I was thinking the other day how many times a Mercedes-Benz has raced at Daytona and I can’t remember once. When I look at it that way, it’s pretty significant to be involved.” The No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports entry will be co-driven by Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, and the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be shared by co-drivers Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette. MacNeil and Jeannette got their first seat time in the car in a late September test at Germany’s Hockenheim circuit. “When I first drove the Mercedes at Hockenheim in Germany, I was blown away,” MacNeil said. “I could tell within the first three corners that the car was so well balanced and was an absolute dream to drive. “I’m really looking forward to bringing the new car to IMSA and seeing how it matches up against the other cars. I think we should fare well. Riley has been a proven team for many years and it will be great to team up with them. They know how to manage their program very well and have done a great job with the Viper program over the past couple of years.” “This appears to me to be the perfect combination of one of the best GT3 cars in the world, one of the best endurance racing teams in the world and a great group of drivers,” Keating added. “This should be a very strong package for 2017. How could I not be excited?” According to IMSA, a third team, SunEnergy1 Racing, led by owner/driver Kenny Habul, also was confirmed to campaign a Mercedes AMG GT3 in the 2017 WeatherTech Championship. Additional teams are expected prior to the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which opens the season on Jan. 28-29, 2017. While the 2017 season marks the first in the WeatherTech Championship for the Mercedes-AMG GT3, the car already has achieved considerable success in other major events and championships around the world, including a sweep of the top four positions in the prestigious Nürburgring 24 in Germany last May. According to Mercedes-Benz USA, customer teams in North America will be supported by a technology and logistics center in Mooresville, North Carolina. 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. Other cars announced for the new-look IMSA GT Daytona class include the Acura NSX GT3 and the Lexus RC F GT3.