Customer Racing: Petit Le Mans: Championship titles for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in IMSA GTD and GS class

14.
October 2018
Braselton (Georgia, USA)

For the second consecutive time after 2017, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports wins the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC). In the final round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta, Ben Keating (USA), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) and Luca Stolz (GER) also win the drivers’ title with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 while Mercedes-AMG also secures the manufacturers’ title in the hard-fought North American sports car series. In the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4 concludes an impressive debut season in a perfect way by winning the Grand Sports class title. The team and drivers Hugh Plumb and Owen Trinkler (both USA) with the Mercedes-AMG GT4 #46 were the only ones to complete all the races of the 2018 season without retirement.

  • Triple crown: TPNAEC drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ titles
  • Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsport wins for the second consecutive year
  • Drivers’ and teams’ titles for Team TGM with the Mercedes-AMG GT4

Braselton (Georgia, USA) – With a slight margin, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsport started the prestigious ten-hour race at Road Atlanta and adapted its strategy for the decisive final round in order to score valuable championship points at the four- and eight-hour marks. Ben Keating started the showdown from ninth place on the grid and already managed to work his way up into the group of the frontrunners after the first pit stops. After Bleekemolen had taken over the #33 Mercedes-AMG GT3, the team racked up its first laps in the lead of the GTD class. Their strategy worked out perfectly after four hours: the trio led the GTD class and thus scored the maximum available number of points. Almost four hours later, the team had to take in a penalty for overtaking the safety car, but in combination with the results from the opposition, it was still enough to secure early drivers’ and teams’ championship titles at the eight-hour mark. For Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen as well as the Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, it was the second time they secured the drivers’ and teams’ titles after 2017. Luca Stolz, a new addition to the team for this year, won the separate endurance cup for the first time.    

On the other hand, the battle for GTD manufacturers honours remained thrilling until the end. Once the Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsport crossed the finish line in eighth place with its #33, this championship was also decided in favour of Mercedes-AMG, albeit with the smallest margin of only one point. Thus, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach can also add the second consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title to its achievement books.

The second Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the field was the P1 Motorsports entry raced by JC Perez (COL), Felipe Fraga (BRA) and Mercedes-AMG Driver Maximilian Buhk (GER). Having started from tenth on the grid and initially having lost a few positions, the trio with starting number 71 made a successful comeback. After 406 laps, they finished seventh in the GTD class in the Petit Le Mans race.

Maiden title in North America for the Mercedes-AMG GT4
Team TGM crowned a perfect debut season for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in North America by winning the drivers’ and teams` titles in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge that had its last race with the current title sponsor at Road Atlanta. Particularly in a very strong second half of the season with three wins and a third place from five races, the team with drivers Hugh Plumb and Owen Trinkler paved the way towards the title. By taking the start and completing the opening lap of the race at Road Atlanta, the duo had already sealed the championship on Friday and only had one remaining goal: enjoying the race throughout the distance and making it to the finish. The only team to have participated in all the series’ rounds this year, they managed to complete all 776 laps with the #46 Mercedes-AMG GT4 and conclude the season without a single retirement. Eleventh place in the two-hour race was only a formality. Their fellow Mercedes-AMG drivers of the Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport team, Indy Dontje (NED) and Bryce Ward (USA) again showed great progress in the final round of the season and finished on the podium. Ward worked his way up from 18th on the grid and after a very good pit stop, Dontje made the successful overtaking manoeuvre for third place with the #57 Mercedes-AMG GT4 on the final lap of the race.

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “Congratulations to Riley Motorsport and Team TGM. Winning the IMSA Endurance Cup for the second time in a row is an incredibly strong performance by Riley Motorsports. The team and the drivers again have done an excellent job throughout the season and really have deserved the title in a thrilling finale. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 have convinced throughout the season, particularly with impressive reliability and a flexible strategic adaptation. Be it a fast lap in qualifying or consistently and fuel-saving on the long distance, the cars provide a suitable concept to be successful at every race track and in every kind of weather conditions. Team TGM was able to complete all the races of the season and didn’t have a single retirement. Together with excellent tactics and a top performance by the team as well as the drivers, they have also secured the maiden title for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in North America. A perfect season for the Mercedes-AMG brand that has won the manufacturers’ title in the GTD class and has taken runner-up position in the GS class.”

Ben Keating, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33: “Having some minor issues in qualifying really made me aware again of how difficult it is to secure the championship at the end of the day. There is always something that can happen, no matter whether it is your mistake or you become innocently involved. Then we were able to drive a solid race. Even though we weren’t in the points at the eight-hour mark, we were able to secure the drivers’ and teams’ titles early because of the results from the opposition. Of course, my joy was enormous at that time already. Winning this championship is something special.”

Jeroen Bleekemolen, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33: “Again, we have had a very solid season. We ended up third in the IMSA standings and have managed to win the endurance cup once again. This TPNAEC means a lot to us as you score points at different times during the race and strategy is playing a major role. The team executed it perfectly and has done a really good job. Winning the championship for the second year in a row is super and is making 2018 to a great season for us.”

Luca Stolz, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33: “The IMSA race series is quite different from European race series, but it really is great fun. I have enjoyed racing together with Ben and Jeroen and the team has done an outstanding job. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was the most reliable car in the field which has helped us a lot and eventually secured us the championship as well.”

Maximilian Buhk, P1 Motorsports #71: “The race was good. Initially, we were having some problems and dropped back two laps. Then, getting us back onto the lead lap with one and a half hours remaining was astrong performance. We had a good speed, we were one of the fastest GTD cars in the field. The team and my colleagues have shown a great performance. I had a lot of fun in my first race in the US and I am very happy.”

Hugh Plumb, Team TGM #46: „It was a very mixed bag of emotions going into the race. We knew that we only had to do a lap to win the team championship, and that was a strange feeling, but we did it! The Mercedes-AMG GT4 car was amazing, and I can’t say enough about the Giovanis family, for everything they’ve given me. The team has been flawless all season long."

Owen Trinkler, Team TGM #46: „The Mercedes-AMG GT4 performed flawlessly this season. Every time we have asked it to run a lap in a race, it has run it. Any time we asked it to run a lap in any session, it completed that. We can’t thank everybody at Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Benz in Germany and here at Mercedes-Benz USA for all of the work and effort they have put into this car. This car is super reliable, and I am so happy for everybody involved in this program. From Team TGM to Mercedes-AMG, we were kind of the new kid on the block a little bit with the car, so to pull off this championship and really dominate the second half of the year is impressive. I am very happy to be part of this program."

Result GTD class, Road Atlanta*:

Pos.

Nr.

Car

Team

Drivers (in alphabetical order)

1.

63

Ferrari 488 GT3

Scuderia Corsa

C. MacNeil (USA), D. Serra (BRA), G. Jeannette (USA)

2.

86

Acura NSX GT3

Meyer Shank Racing

K. Legge (GBR), A. Parente (POR), T. Hindman (USA)

3.

48

Lamborghini Huracan GT3

Paul Miller Racing

B. Sellers (USA), M. Snow (USA), C. Lewis (USA)

...

 

 

 

 

7.

71

Mercedes-AMG GT3

P1 Motorsports

Maximilian Buhk (GER), Felipe Fraga (BRA), JC Perez (COL)

8.

33

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports

Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), Ben Keating (USA), Luca Stolz (GER)

Result GS class, Road Atlanta*:

Pos.

Nr.

Car

Team

Drivers (in alphabetical order)

1.

82

BMW M4 GT4

BimmerWorld Racing

J. Clay (USA), T. Cooke (USA)

2.

76

McLaren GT4

Compass Racing

P. Holton (USA), M. Plumb (USA)

3.

57

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport

Indy Dontje (NED), Bryce Ward (USA)

 

 

 

 

11.

46

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Team TGM

Hugh Plumb (USA), Owen Trinkler (USA)

17.

65

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Murillo Racing

Brent Mosing (USA), Tim Probert (USA)

18.

4

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Team TGM

Guy Cosmo (USA), Ted Giovanis (USA)

20.

92

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Ramsey International Racing

Roger Eagleton (USA), Mark Ramsey (USA)

23.

56

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Murillo Racing

Eric Foss (USA), Jeff Mosing (USA)

DNS

33

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport

Damien Faulkner (IRL), Russell Ward (USA)

* subject to confirmation by the organiser

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  • 18C0882_01
    TPNAEC Champions: Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33
  • 18C0882_02
    TPNAEC Champion: Mercedes-AMG GT3 #33
  • 18C0882_03
    TPNAEC Champions (left to right): Ben Keating, Luca Stolz, Jeroen Bleekemolen
  • 18C0882_04
    Finish line: Mercedes-AMG GT3 #33
  • 18C0882_05
    P1 Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #71
  • 18C0882_06
    Mercedes-AMG GT3 #33 und #71
  • 18C0882_07
    Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33
  • 18C0882_08
    Pit stop: P1 Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #71
  • 18C0882_09
    P1 Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #71
  • 18C0882_10
    Pit stop: P1 Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #71
  • 18C0882_11
    Starting grid: Mercedes-AMG GT3 #33 and #71
  • 18C0882_12
    Starting grid: Mercedes-AMG GT3 #33
  • 18C0882_13
    Starting grid: Mercedes-AMG GT3 #71
  • 18C0882_14
    Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33
  • 18C0882_15
    Start of the Petit Le Mans
  • 18C0882_16
    Pit stop: Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33
  • 18C0882_17
    GT4 Champions: Owen Trinkler (left) and Hugh Plumb, Team TGM #46
  • 18C0882_18
    Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4 #46
  • 18C0882_19
    3rd place GT4 category: Indy Dontje (left) and Bryce Ward
  • 18C0882_20
    Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 #57
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