- WeatherTech Racing #79 victorious in Motul Petit Le Mans and claims GTD-Pro runner-up spot
- Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing secures six titles in Michelin Endurance Cup
- GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup: AKKODIS ASP Team secures runner-up position
- Silver Cup drivers’ and teams’ title for Haupt Racing Team and Jordan Love
- Mercedes-AMG seals early title in intercontinental GTWC manufacturers’ standings
Motul Petit Le Mans, the traditional season-ending round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, brought success for Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing across the board. In both GTD classes, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach won the drivers’, manufacturers’ and teams’ titles in the prestigious Michelin Endurance Cup. In this classification, only the results from the long-standing endurance races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta are taken into account. In the season finale, the only round on the IMSA calendar with a race duration of ten hours, points for the endurance standings were attributed after four and eight hours as well as at the finish, just like in the twelve-hour race at Sebring.
In the GTD-Pro class, Jules Gounon (AND) and Daniel Juncadella (ESP) with WeatherTech Racing made the decisive move towards the title hat-trick in the Michelin Endurance Cup. At the demanding, almost 4.1 kilometres long Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the two Mercedes-AMG Performance Drivers, together with Maro Engel (GER), sealed the maiden victory for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Motul Petit Le Mans. For all three drivers, it was the fourth career win in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship while for Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, it also was the fourth race win of the current season. Previously, the duo had already claimed victory in the legendary Daytona 24-hour race together with Maro Engel as well as in the sprint races at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. No other team in the GTD-Pro class has managed to win as many races this year. In the final standings across all the eleven IMSA rounds, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella secured the runner-up position. The Korthoff/Preston Motorsports team and the driver trio of Mikaël Grenier (CAN), Kenton Koch and Mike Skeen (all USA) achieved a clean sweep of all the championship titles in the GTD class of the Michelin Endurance Cup.
GTD-Pro: WeatherTech Racing claims maiden win for Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Motul Petit Le Mans
The equally fast and experienced trio of drivers in the #79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 started the endurance race in the state of Georgia from third place in class. Even after a drive-through penalty in the opening half of the race, WeatherTech Racing remained within striking distance from the leaders. In the closing stages of the race, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella made the difference as both drivers were able to take the lead by virtue of strong lap times and a clever pit stop strategy. Towards the end of the race, a duel for the class win between Daniel Juncadella, who was leading at the time, and his main rival looked set to unfold. However, as the race was neutralised for the twelfth and final time with just a few minutes remaining, the maiden win for Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing in Motul Petit Le Mans was in the books. The race ended under yellow behind the pace car. In the final Michelin Endurance Cup standings, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella ended up four points ahead of their teammate Maro Engel, who therefore became runner-up. The German had shared driving duties with his two fellow Mercedes-AMG drivers in only three of the four endurance races. He had to miss out on the Watkins Glen six-hour race due to clashing commitments in DTM.
GTD: Championship titles for the Korthoff/Preston Motorsports team in Michelin Endurance Cup
In the GTD class, the trio of drivers in the Korthoff/Preston Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 with starting number 32 not only shone with good lap times, but also with an outstanding racing intelligence. As a result, they managed to stay away from all kinds of trouble. The fast, but also clever driving style brought Mikaël Grenier, Kenton Koch and Mike Skeen on course for the podium. However, Korthoff/Preston Motorsports pursued a strategy aimed at a maximum points’ haul in the Michelin Endurance Cup. The team did miss out on the deserved podium finish, as, unlike the opposition, it opted not to make a pit stop just prior to the eight-hour mark and therefore wasn’t running with the optimum strategy. Still, this decision enabled the car to move up in the order so that the decisive championship points could be scored at that moment. Eventually, the team ended up sixth in class while also securing the title. With the second Mercedes-AMG GT3, the WINWARD Racing car with starting number 57, Indy Dontje (NED), Philip Ellis (SUI) and Russell Ward (USA) ended up in ninth place.
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: Mercedes-AMG seals manufacturers’ title in GS class
On the support package of the IMSA WeatherTech SportCar Championship, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing was able to secure a championship title win as well. In the GS class for cars to GT4 regulations, the manufacturers’ title went to Affalterbach. In the Fox Factory 120, the season-ending two-hour race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, WINWARD Racing’s Daniel Morad (CAN) and Bryce Ward (USA) secured the necessary points. With their #57 Mercedes-AMG GT4, they crossed the finish line in fifth place.
GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup: runner-up spot for AKKODIS ASP Team
Zandvoort/Netherlands. The AKKODIS ASP Team with Timur Boguslavskiy (FIA) and Raffaele Marciello (SUI) has concluded the season in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup with runner-up spot in the drivers’ and teams’ standings. In a dramatic season finale at Circuit Zandvoort, an opponent punted the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 out of the race and therefore out of the battle for the title. A fortnight earlier, the AKKODIS ASP Team had won both titles in the Endurance Cup and in the overall standings. Jordan Love (AUS), who again was supported by Frank Bird (GBR) in the season finale, and Haupt Racing Team concluded a successful season with a pair of class wins and both championship titles in the Silver Cup.
Race 1, Saturday: AKKODIS ASP Team leads championship standings prior to the first race
Following the quadruple title defence at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the AKKODIS ASP Team had high ambitions as it headed to Zandvoort for the sprint finale. The margin in the teams‘ standings amounted to three points, Timur Boguslavskiy and Raffaele Marciello had a 7.5-point margin in the drivers’ standings prior to the final race weekend. On Saturday, Raffaele Marciello qualified the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for third place on the grid in the record field of 30 cars.
As the race got underway, rain set in in certain parts of the track. Raffaele Marciello quickly worked his way up into second place and went on to attack the leader and championship rival soon after that. In this manoeuvre, however, the Mercedes-AMG Performance Driver made an uncharacteristic error as he hit a wet patch and slid into the gravel trap. He had to rejoin the race from 15th place. Subsequently, however, the 28-year-old showed his usual class and made up several positions prior to coming in for the mandatory pit stop. As the pit stop crew of the #88 car also executed the fastest pit stop of the race, Timur Boguslavskiy went back out on track in fourth place. He skillfully stayed out of any duels and brought his position home as a result. As the championship rivals had managed to win the Saturday race, the AKKODIS ASP Team dropped back to second place in the drivers’ and teams’ standings prior to the final one-hour race.
Race 2, Sunday: Innocently becoming involved in a collision puts an end to AKKODIS ASP Team’s title hopes
As a result, the tables had been turned for the Sunday. Now 2.5 points down in the drivers’ and 1.5 points down in the teams’ standings, AKKODIS ASP Team was no longer the hunted one, but rather the hunter. Still, Timur Boguslavskiy was unfazed by this new role and qualified in eight place on the grid on a drying track on Sunday, one position ahead of the direct championship rivals.
Like on the previous day, close duels and changeable conditions made their mark on the opening stages. At the damp track, Boguslavskiy had a good start, but was hit by an opponent after a few minutes, a collision with a huge effect. A broken suspension forced the AKKODIS ASP Team to retire from the race. As a result, the #88 car was prematurely out of contention for the title. With a total of four season wins from ten sprint races, AKKODIS ASP Team, Timur Boguslavskiy and Raffaele Marciello secured runner-up positions in the drivers’ and teams’ standings.
Silver Cup: Jordan Love and Haupt Racing Team crowned champions with a pair of class wins
In the Silver Cup, the battles for the drivers’ and teams’ titles were decided this weekend as well. Haupt Racing Team and Jordan Love were both one point down in their respective standings going into the weekend. A great recovery drive in the Saturday race saw Love and his teammate Frank Bird make up ten positions in total with the #77 car. Eventually, they secured the Silver Cup class win, enabling HRT to take over the lead prior to the final race. The #90 Madpanda Motorsport entry also secured a class podium finish in third place of the Silver Cup.
In qualifying on Sunday, Frank Bird laid the all-important foundation for the title win. With the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3, he secured third place on the overall grid and therefore started on pole position in the Silver Cup class. In the race, the Brit coped well with the challenging conditions and held on to his class lead with the #77 car prior to handing over to Jordan Love at the halfway point of the race. Subsequently, the Australian defended first place in class in commanding fashion and claimed Silver Cup honours by finishing sixth overall. As a result, Haupt Racing Team and Jordan Love secured the drivers’ and teams’ titles in their category. Madpanda Motorsport with Ezequiel Perez Companc (ARG) and Jesse Salmenautio (FIN) secured another class podium this weekend by finishing second and concluded the season in third place of the Silver Cup.
Mercedes-AMG with early overall manufacturers’ title win
As the race at Zandvoort finished, yet another action-packed season in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe came to an end. Likewise, GT World Challenge Asia and GT World Challenge America are already in their respective winter breaks. Only GT World Challenge Australia still has races to be run: the final two races of the season will be held at Adelaide Park Circuit on 25th and 26th November. With a margin of around 4,000 points, however, nobody can prevent Mercedes-AMG from winning the intercontinental manufacturers’ title anymore at this time already. This success is the result of the remarkable consistency proven by the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams in the four race series involved. Not in the least because of this, all five manufacturers’ titles went to Affalterbach since the overall classification was introduced in 2019.
“All in all, a great weekend for us. With the maiden win for Mercedes-AMG in Motul Petit Le Mans, our expectations were even exceeded. On top of that, there are drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ titles both in GTD and GTD-Pro in the Michelin Endurance Cup. We can be very, very happy with that. We extend our thanks to WeatherTech Racing, Winward Racing and Team Korthoff/Preston Motorsports who have made this success possible and have delivered a fantastic season. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that luck in the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup. Even though it didn’t work out with the championship win, Timur, Raffaele and AKKODIS ASP Team can be happy with this season. After all, they had already won the overall and Endurance Cup titles. Now, we look forward to a few more quiet weeks.”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing
“I am super proud of Mercedes-AMG. Motul Petit Le Mans is a race you absolutely want to win. Claiming victory here today simply makes me super happy. Many thanks to the MacNeil family for having worked hard all year long to put this programme in place. I had a lot of fun with my teammates and when you are having fun, you get some good results, too.”
Jules Gounon, WeatherTech Racing #79
“This is a great result for the entire WeatherTech Racing Team. We were having a difficult phase halfway through the season, but today, we had a great car. That made it easier for me to bring victory home in my final stint. Winning the Michelin Endurance Cup, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the two sprint races was great. Concluding it with victory today is incredible. Thanks to David and Cooper MacNeil for their support throughout the year and to the WeatherTech Racing Team.”
Daniel Juncadella, WeatherTech Racing #79
“It was a good race and our Mercedes-AMG GT3 handled perfectly, too. Especially during the night, the car ran really well. We were in the top 3 for most of the time, but eventually, we had to sacrifice the race in terms of strategy in favour of the championship. Points were attributed every four hours and many drivers headed into the pits after eight hours. We, however, stayed out to score points. That is what cost us the race in the end but helped us win the championship.”
Mikaël Grenier, Korthoff/Preston Motorsports #32
“It is too bad that we didn’t get the possibility to decide the battle for the championship on track today. Timur actually got a strong initial position with a good qualifying. Therefore, we are disappointed indeed that the race had to end the way it did. Nevertheless, I am happy for Mattia Drudi and Ricardo Feller who often were the fastest this year and have deserved the championship. We, too, had a fantastic season with the Endurance Cup and overall titles, one that we can be very proud of.”
Raffaele Marciello, AKKODIS ASP Team #88
“I am very happy with this championship and with the entire weekend. We had some challenges to overcome this year, but we regularly racked up good results and reached our goal like this. The two titles in Silver Cup are a great success for the team which I would like to thank for this great season. I am happy that Frank was able to race with me again after his break. The title is his achievement as well.”
Jordan Love, Haupt Racing Team #77