- Prize-giving ceremony for brand-internal Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship
- Inaugural AMG Racing Series with debut of the Mercedes-AMG GT2 PRO and Young Driver Test
- Farewell for Raffaele Marciello after seven successful years together
The 2023 motorsport season is still in full swing, but Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing can already look back on a highly successful year with a total of 82 title wins and prestigious victories in single endurance racing events worldwide. On Saturday, the “World’s Fastest Family” celebrated the major sporting achievements at the occasion of “Champions United”. In this worthy setting, the prize-giving ceremony for the brand-internal Customer Racing Championship was held as well, during which the winners once again were acknowledged with exclusive prizes. Hosts for the traditional end-of-season event, held in the City of Arts and Science in Valencia this year, were AMG brand ambassador David Coulthard and Verena Wriedt. Michael Schiebe (CEO Mercedes-AMG GmbH) and Jochen Hermann (Member of the Board of Management Mercedes-AMG GmbH), Christoph Sagemüller (Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport) and Stefan Wendl (Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing), among others, presented the awards. Representatives of cooperation partners and customer sports teams as well as numerous racing drivers had come to Spain for Mercedes-AMG’s exclusive end-of-season celebration and created an atmosphere that was both stylish and familial.
The “Champions United” event marked the illustrious conclusion of the AMG Racing Series in Valencia. At Circuit Ricardo Tormo, not far from the Spanish metropolis, clients and Customer Racing Teams assembled for intense preparation and to set the course for the upcoming season. This included various on-track activities, among others with the AMG ONE, multiple car deliveries, various Experiences as well as an AMG Young Driver Test. Moreover, the new Mercedes-AMG GT2 PRO made its circuit debut.
The concept of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship
For nine years already, Mercedes-AMG has been running a unique brand-internal championship. In the process, the most successful teams and drivers from the customer sports programme are rewarded with high-quality, exclusive special prizes, this time supported by cooperation partners IWC, MSI, PUMA and RAVENOL. Thus, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach expresses its appreciation for the exemplary representation of its race cars in the various race series all over the world. The competition is split up into eight categories. Prizes are given to the top 3 in the sub-categories and the top 5 overall. Taken into account are all customer teams and all drivers aged 18 or above who have competed in races within the competition time frame (October 5th, 2022 till October 24th, 2023) with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, GT4, GT2 or the SLS AMG GT3. Over 400 drivers and 100 teams have participated in the competition. Customer teams with extended works support are ineligible to take part.
In every race, points are attributed according to the 25-18-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 format that is current in motorsport. These points are then multiplied by a previously determined factor, according to the level and the distance. As a rule, the results of the GT3 and GT4 cars are counted and classified separately. This year, results achieved with the Mercedes-AMG GT2 still counted towards the GT4 standings.
The prize-winners of the 2023 Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship*
As the main prize, a Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E PERFORMANCE (combined fuel consumption: 10.8 l/100 km | combined CO₂ emission: 247 g/km**) was handed over to the winner in the DRIVER standings. In 2023, this was George Kurtz (USA). In the past year, he had his biggest achievements in American and, together with his teammate Colin Braun (USA), he was crowned as the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS Pro-Am champion. George Kurtz also came out on top in the DRIVER GT3 standings. In the PRO-DRIVER category for those drivers that have platinum, gold or silver status according to the categorisation by the global motoring federation FIA, Timur Boguslavskiy (FIA) secured first place this year. With the AKKODIS ASP Team, he won two championship titles in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and finished runner-up in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps. Moreover, Timur Boguslavskiy came out on top in the PRO-DRIVER GT3 category. Michai Stephens (USA) ended up in first place of the PRO-DRIVER GT4 standings. He scored five class wins in GT4 America and became runner-up in the Silver Cup standings. Chris Hart and Stephen Walton (both GBR) emerged as the winners in the DRIVER GT4 standings. They raced in the British GT Cup Championship together and were crowned champions in the GTH class.
In the TEAM GT3 standings, the programme of the Haupt Racing Team paid off. By virtue of title wins in the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup, the class win in the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps or the ADAC GT Masters teams’ title, the crew collected sufficient points to end up in first place. In the TEAM GT4 standings, NM Racing Team is the winner. The team from the Barcelona region predominantly competed in Spanish race series. From a total of 68 race participations with the Mercedes-AMG GT4, the team scored eight class wins and 17 further podium results. On top of that, NM Racing Team also scored a pair of class podium finishes in its first outing with the Mercedes-AMG GT2.
Awardees in the special categories 2023***
Late in the afternoon, the “Winners of the season” were rewarded. There, all the title winners of the competition time frame that has now ended, both in real-world and virtual motorsport, were presented with an exclusive “Winners’ Jacket” in AMG design. The limited-edition jacked had been designed by motorsport label Race Service exclusively for the event.
At this occasion, there was an accolade for the “Best Looking Car” of the year for the first time as well. Prior to the event fans had the opportunity to vote for their favourite design on Mercedes-AMG’s social media channels. The car that came out on top was the #4 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 that had finished in third place overall in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. The car sported a unique comic art style livery, implemented by fashion designer Frank Granduc in cooperation with livery artist Alexander Bloch.
Other drivers that were honoured were young talents Frank Bird (GBR) and Lorenzo Ferrari (ITA), who had come to the fore in the preceding AMG Young Driver Test at Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Over 20 drivers aged between 17 and 25 years with gold or silver rating in the FIA driver categorisation took part in the sessions. The fastest drivers from the shoot-out subsequently were allowed to complete a long run. Frank Bird and Lorenzo Ferrari convinced in both disciplines and will therefore receive a fixed drive with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Intercontinental GT Challenge season finale, the Gulf 12 Hours at Abu Dhabi (December 8th-10th).
Farewell for long-time Mercedes-AMG Performance Driver Raffaele Marciello
In a suitable atmosphere, Raffaele Marciello also got his farewell from the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing driver line-up during the “Champions United” event. Having bowed out of the GP2 Series after the 2016 season, the Swiss quickly became established as a star driver in GT racing and eventually became a Mercedes-AMG Performance Driver at the end of 2017. His biggest achievements include victory in the FIA GT World Cup at Macau in 2019 and the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race in 2022, various GT World Challenge Europe title wins and the 2022 ADAC GT Masters drivers’ title. "I am touched. As a farewell present I was given the Spa winning car I drove as a model car and AMG made a cool, very emotional film for me. We all had another great evening together. I'm very grateful to Mercedes-AMG because without them I wouldn't be here now," said the 28-year-old shortly after his farewell. Next weekend, Raffaele Marciello will have his final outing as an official Mercedes-AMG driver during the FIA GT World Cup at Macau.
"First of all, I would like to congratulate our award winners. Once again this year, they have won numerous races and championships with us with great dedication and exceptional performances. I would also like to thank all our customer racing teams and drivers. They have played a decisive role in ensuring that the AMG brand has once again been so well represented in international competition. Over the past few days at the AMG Racing Series in Valencia, we have laid important foundations for building on this success in the long term. During the test days and the Young Driver Test we have seen some great up-and-coming talent! I would also like to thank our valued partners who have supported us along the way and made this evening a unique and unforgettable experience with their exclusive prizes as part of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship."
Christoph Sagemüller, Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport
“Every year, the prize-giving in our brand-internal Customer Racing Championship are something special for me as we are able to give something back to our drivers and teams once again. We acknowledge our gentlemen drivers just like our professionals and they are all coming together on this one evening, that is absolutely unique. I am confident that in the future we will be able to honour one or two talented young drivers from our Young Driver Test at our end-of-year celebrations. The impressions from the sessions at Circuit Ricardo Tormo were absolutely promising. Therefore, I am very much looking forward to watching Frank Bird and Lorenzo Ferrari behind the wheel of our Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Abu Dhabi.”
Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing
* Overview of all winners of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship on media.mercedes-benz.com
** The indicated values are the determined “NEDC CO2 values” with the meaning of Art. 2 Nr. 1 Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1153. The fuel consumption values were calculated on the basis of these values. A higher value can apply for determination of car taxes. Further information about the cars that are offered, including WLTP values, can be found specific for your country at www.mercedes-benz.com
*** not part of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship