DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Mercedes-Benz USA and Mercedes-AMG have confirmed a multiple-car, customer racing program that will compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the first time next season.
Mercedes-AMG GT3 race cars will be powered by naturally aspirated, 6.3-liter V8 engines and will compete in the GT Daytona class.
“We are thrilled to see the three-pointed star compete in North America’s premier endurance racing series in 2017,” said MBUSA president Dietmar Exler. “Our Mercedes-AMG race car has already proven itself in worldwide competition, and should quickly become a fan favorite. We are very excited about our prospects for the 2017 racing season.”
The manufacturer — which will provide team support via its Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports Program — confirmed at least three race cars for the 2017 season. A pair of entries will come from Riley Motorsports under the watchful eye of team owner/director, Bill Riley.
“It’s really an honor to be aligned with AMG,” Riley said. “The car looks so fast even standing still, and I can’t wait to start running it in anger. I was thinking the other day how many times a Mercedes-Benz has raced at Daytona and I can’t remember once. When I look at it that way, it’s pretty significant to be involved.”
The No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports entry will be co-driven by Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen and the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be shared by co-drivers Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette.
“When I first drove the Mercedes at Hockenheim in Germany, I was blown away,” MacNeil said. “I could tell within the first three corners that the car was so well balanced and was an absolute dream to drive.
“I’m really looking forward to bringing the new car to IMSA and seeing how it matches up against the other cars. I think we should fare well. Riley has been a proven team for many years and it will be great to team up with them. They know how to manage their program very well and have done a great job with the Viper program over the past couple of years.”
Mercedes-AMG becomes the eighth manufacturer in the WeatherTech Championship GTD class, which uses FIA GT3 technical regulations. Mercedes-AMG joins Acura and Lexus as GTD programs that will debut in 2017, while Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari and BMW are expected to continue their participation in the class. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car is based on the Mercedes-AMG GT S road car.
“The WeatherTech Championship – and especially the GTD class – is where manufacturers have the opportunity to race what they sell,” said IMSA president Scott Atherton. “The addition of Mercedes-AMG to our highly competitive lineup is extremely significant, as it brings another iconic, premium brand into IMSA. It is the most recent validation of the relevance of this motorsports platform and truly an honor to welcome Mercedes-AMG to IMSA as an Official Automotive Partner and competitor in the WeatherTech Championship for the first time in 2017.”
CREDIT: IMSA Communications