Motul Petit Le Mans


Mercedes-AMG Motorsport again claims titles in IMSA GTD and GS class.

MercedesAMGCustomerRacing_IMSA_GT4_RoadAtlanta_2019_01.jpg

  • Michelin Endurance Cup drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ titles
  • Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsport wins for the third consecutive year
  • Manufacturers’ title for Mercedes-AMG in the Michelin Pilot Challenge

 

For the third time in a row, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports (#33) wins the teams’ title in the Michelin Endurance Cups of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After their title wins in the years 2017 and 2018, Ben Keating (USA) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) finish in fourth place of their class in the ten-hour race Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta and crown their season, supported by Felipe Fraga (BRA) with the drivers’ title in the hard-fought endurance classification of the GTD category. Moreover, there are successes in the GTD and GS class manufacturers’ championships to celebrate: both in the Endurance competition of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach comes out on top after a season full of excitement.

Prior to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Road Atlanta, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport already found itself in an excellent position: the #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports car ended up second in GTD qualifying and therefore secured itself a slot on the front row of the grid while holding a tiny margin in the championship standings. At the start of the race, Ben Keating lost a position, but the American successfully held off the attacks by his rivals as the race went on while putting the drivers in front of him more and more under pressure during his next stint. After one and a half hours, he handed the #33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to Felipe Fraga, who was able to rack up the first laps in the lead for the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach by virtue of a strong driving performance and a clever pit stop strategy. The Brazilian was in second place at the four-hour mark and secured four valuable championship points for himself and his team. The lead in the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ standings could be secured as a result. In the following four hours, Jeroen Bleekemolen also joined in the turbulent action at Road Atlanta that included several safety car interventions. After another stint by Keating, the experienced driver took over the car in second place and after some laps in the lead of the GTD field, he was fourth in class at the eight-hour mark. The decision then came in the final two hours of this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: Fraga again took the lead of the field and defended his lead until just before the end as he had to park his car only moments before the finish. The #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports was still classified fourth, enough to seal the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ titles.

For Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, this renewed title win was already the third drivers’ and teams’ championship with Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports. The duo had already laid the foundation at the start of the season as the two drivers scored top six results in the classic endurance races at Daytona and Sebring. In the course of the season, Keating / Bleekemolen also showed an impressing consistency in their performance, pole position at Road America and the GTD class win in the tenth IMSA round at VIRginia International Raceway being the sporting highlights of the season. The third consecutive GTD manufacturers’ title in the Michelin Endurance Cup rounded out the successful performance by Mercedes-AMG in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

GS class manufacturers’ championship for Mercedes-AMG

In the Michelin Pilot Challenge, Mercedes-AMG also had a successful end of the season including a title win to celebrate: Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb (both USA) of the Team TGM secured third place in the car with starting number #46, confirming the strong performance from qualifying on the previous day, in which the two had also ended up third. In total, four Mercedes-AMG GT4s were classified in the top ten of the two-hour race and rounded out the strong team result at Road Atlanta.

With the podium finish in the season finale, Mercedes-AMG also scored the necessary points to maintain its advantage over its rivals in the manufacturers’ standings of the series. This was primarily the result of a strong performance in the second half of the season by the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach: in the final five rounds of the Michelin Pilot Challenge, the Mercedes-AMG GT4s in the field racked up a total of two race wins and five podium results. Mercedes-AMG concluded the season with 304 points and therefore a five-point advantage over the second-placed brand. After winning the drivers’ and teams’ titles in 2018, this year marks the maiden manufacturers’ title win in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for Mercedes-AMG.

Thomas Jäger, coordinator Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “That was a great race weekend at Road Atlanta for Mercedes-AMG. We are delighted to have won the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge manufacturers’ title and to have defended the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup title on top of that. Today, the GT3 race was close until the very end and even though the outcome wasn’t optimal, the championship titles in the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ titles eventually are in the books. That reflects the reliability and the potential of our Mercedes-AMG GT3. Congratulations to Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, Ben Keating, Felipe Fraga and Jeroen Bleekemolen for an outstanding season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Thanks to all the Customer Racing teams and drivers for the great effort throughout the IMSA season!”

Ben Keating, #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports: “It was an exciting race. Our rivals in the battle for the Michelin Endurance Cup were very strong and built up massive pressure. Eventually, we ended up fourth in class, enough to win the title. I am very proud of the entire team.”

Jeroen Bleekemolen, #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports: “It was great. We have won another championship, the third in a row in the Endurance Cup with the Mercedes-AMG GT3. We can be very proud of that. We had a very fast car, but the many incidents were slightly unfortunate for us. At the end, it was very close: had the overall leader finished ten seconds earlier, it would have had a positive effect for us. But like this, we have also shown what we can achieve.”

Felipe Fraga, #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports: “I reckon we had the best GTD car this weekend. At the beginning, we already built up an advantage, but then we frequently became involved in incidents that hurt us. We had to do two stints with the same tire, which also made life difficult for us. Eventually, we didn’t win the race, but we did win the championship. That is the most important thing! I am already looking forward to next season.”

Hugh Plumb, #46 Team TGM: “Our team is always in a position to decide races in its favour. Even though it is difficult and not always works out: we are a team, be it in victory or in defeat. Today, we have secured the manufacturers’ title and really fought for third place. Many thanks to the entire TGM team!”

Owen Trinkler, #46 Team TGM: “With Hugh, I have a great teammate. We have been working hard all week and the car worked very well. Mercedes-AMG has provided us with a car that is really impressive. Concluding this year with a podium and the manufacturers’ title really is something special for us.”

Result GTD class, Road Atlanta*:

Pos.

Nr.

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

96

BMW M6 GT3

Turner Motorsport

Bill Auberlen (USA)
Robby Foley (USA)
Dillon Machavern (USA)

2.

29

Audi R8 LMS GT3

Montaplast by Land Motorsport

Daniel Morad (CAN)
Christopher Mies (GER)
Ricky Feller (SUI)

3.

9

Porsche 911 GT3 R

PFAFF Motorsports

Scott Hargrove (CAN)
Zacharie Robichon (CAN)
Lars Kern (GER)

4.

33

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports

Ben Keating (USA)
Felipe Fraga (BRA)
Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED)

*  subject to confirmation by the organiser

Result GS class, Road Atlanta*:

Pos.

Nr.

Car

Team

Drivers

1.

15

Ford Mustang GT4

Multimatic Motorsports

S. Priaulx (GBR)
A. Cindric (USA)

2.

69

McLaren GT4

Motorsports In Action

C. Fergus (USA)
J. Lazare (CAN)

3.

46

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Team TGM

Hugh Plumb (USA)
Owen Trinkler (USA)

 

 

 

 

7.

4

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Team TGM

Guy Cosmo (USA)
Ted Giovanis (USA)

8.

56

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Murillo Racing

Eric Foss (USA)
Jeff Mosing (USA)

10.

65

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Murillo Racing

Brent Mosing (USA)
Tim Probert (USA)

18.

35

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Riley Motorsports

Dylan Murry (USA)
Jim Cox (USA)

23.

33

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport

Russell Ward (USA)
Indy Dontje (NED)

24.

57

Mercedes-AMG GT4

Winward Racing / HTP Motorsport

Bryce Ward (USA)
Christian Hohenadel (GER)

*  subject to confirmation by the organiser