Mercedes-AMG® GT3 and Mercedes-AMG® GT4 Teams Continue Competitive Summer of IMSA Racing
A successful summer of IMSA racing competition for Mercedes-AMG® Motorsport Customer Racing teams continues this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), August 23 – 25. Two Mercedes-AMG® GT3 teams compete in Sunday’s weekend-highlight Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race. On Saturday, seven Mercedes-AMG® GT4 entries compete in the featured IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.
The two-hour and 40-minute Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech Championship race can be seen live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. EDT. International viewers can watch the race live on IMSA.tv. Saturday’s two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race will start at 2:15 p.m. EDT and is viewable live on IMSA.tv.
The Michelin GT Challenge is the second of two races on the IMSA WeatherTech Championship schedule featuring only GT-class racecars. As they did last month at Lime Rock Park, Mercedes-AMG® GT3 teams and other GT Daytona (GTD) class entries share the track only with the more powerful GT Le Mans (GTLM) class cars at VIR.
Mercedes-AMG® Customer Racing teams head to VIR after a competitive performance at the Road America IMSA race three weeks ago. Driver Ben Keating won the first Mercedes-AMG® GT3 IMSA WeatherTech Championship GTD class pole of the season, while co-drivers Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss gave the Mercedes-AMG® GT4 its fifth podium result of the summer with a third place showing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.
Keating co-drives the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG® Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG® GT3 with longtime teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen. The Road America pole followed an outside front-row qualifying run by Keating one race earlier at Lime Rock. The No. 33 led a large number of laps in both races only to be kept from contention by a double dose of bad luck at both Lime Rock and Road America.
Keating and Bleekemolen are optimistic for a change of fortune at VIR where the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG® GT3 was on the lead pace all weekend last year and finished third in 2017.
A second Mercedes-AMG® GT3 entry at VIR comes from Lone Star Racing and team co-drivers Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach. This weekend marks the final scheduled round of a select run of five races for Robinson and Aschenbach in the No. 74 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG® GT3.
The seven Mercedes-AMG® GT4 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) entries at VIR come from four different teams. They have accumulated a string of Mercedes-AMG® GT4 podium finishes in a successful stretch of five summer races to date, which began at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May.
First-year Mercedes-AMG® Motorsport Customer Racing competitors Jim Cox and Dylan Murry co-drove the No. 35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG® GT4 to a second- place finish at Mid-Ohio.
The No. 35 team’s Mid-Ohio podium set the stage for the first Mercedes-AMG® GT4 victory of the IMSA season one race later at Watkins Glen International. With Bleekemolen added to the driver lineup for The Glen’s four-hour race, Cox, Murry and the No. 35 Riley Motorsports team won their first IMSA Pilot Challenge race.
The third Mercedes-AMG® GT4 podium of the year was another victory two races later at Lime Rock by reigning GS champions TeamTGM, and co-drivers Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb. Starting from the pole, Trinkler and Plumb won their second-straight race at Lime Rock in the No. 46 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG® GT4.
Trinkler and Plumb are also the defending GS race winners at VIR. They look for their second repeat race win of the season on Saturday competing alongside the sister No. 4 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG® GT4 entry of team owner Ted Giovanis and Guy Cosmo.
Mosing and Foss joined the winning No. 46 team on the Lime Rock podium with their first top-three finish in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG® GT4. The longtime co-drivers carried the podium momentum straight to Road America two weeks later where they scored a second-straight third place showing. That podium finish marks the fifth trip to victory lane this summer for the Mercedes-AMG® GT4.
Murillo Racing’s No. 65 Mercedes-AMG® GT4 returns to action at VIR following an accident during a Friday morning practice at Road America. Driver Justin Piscitell was uninjured in the incident. Piscitell will co-drive the No. 65 at VIR this weekend with Tim Probert.
Another two-car Mercedes-AMG® GT4 team back to full strength for VIR is Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport. At Road America, Bryce Ward co-drove the No. 57 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG® GT4 with his son, Russell Ward, who returns to his own No. 33 entry this weekend. Bryce Ward co-drives at VIR with Christian Hohenadel, while Russell Ward returns to teaming with his regular co-driver Indy Dontje in the No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG® GT4.
Keating’s Road America GTD pole was the fifth of the year for Mercedes-AMG® Motorsport Customer Racing teams in IMSA competition. In addition to Lime Rock, Trinkler won the GS pole at Sebring and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the No. 46 Mercedes-AMG® GT4. Dontje put the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG® GT4 on the GS pole at Watkins Glen to lead a Winward/HTP front-row sweep with Hohenadel on the outside front row in the No. 57.
A three-day weekend event, the VIR schedule gets underway with practice sessions for both the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and IMSA Pilot Challenge on Friday. Pilot Challenge GS qualifying is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Friday evening.
A final one-hour practice Saturday morning at 8:35 a.m. EDT sets the stage for GTD qualifying early that afternoon at 12:25 p.m. EDT. The two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race is scheduled to go green at 2:15 p.m. EDT.
Sunday’s schedule begins with a 20-minute final warm-up practice session at 9:05 a.m. EDT, with the featured Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race scheduled to start at 1:35 p.m. EDT.