Mercedes-AMG GT4 Teams Fourth and Fifth in IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Race at Mid-Ohio

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams TeamTGM and Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Earlier in the day a pair of Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams qualified in the GT Daytona (GTD) class for Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.

Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb co-drove the No. 46 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4 to a fourth-place finish in the top-tier Continental Tire SportsCar Grand Sports (GS) class, crossing the finish line just ahead of the No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Russell Ward and Damien Faulkner.

In total, Mercedes-AMG GT4 teams filled four of the race’s top-nine GS finishing positions. Bryce Ward and Indy Dontje co-drove the No. 57 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 to a seventh-place finish while the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss crossed the finish line in ninth.

In Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship GTD qualifying session, Ben Keating drove the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Kenny Habul was at the wheel of his No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Both the No. 33 and No. 75 teams made a strategy-decision to change to new tires after completing the qualifying session, a move that requires both entries to be sent to the back of the GTD starting field, but could provide an advantage on race day.

Keating co-drives the No. 33 with fourth-year teammate Jeroen Bleekemolen while Maro Engel returns to the No. 75 to co-drive with Habul after helping the SunEnergy1 team to an eighth-place finish in January’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Round 3 of the 12-race IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD-class schedule, Sunday’s two-hour and 40-minute race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, can be seen live on FOX Sports 2 (FS2) starting at 1 p.m. EDT. 

Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has good balance and I had some good qualifying laps. That was an incredible fastest lap for me. I might have been on an even quicker one when Christina Nielsen was in front of me, but even picking up one or two tenths-of-a-second would still just put us P8 or P9. I don’t know what else I can get out of the car. The engineers for the team asked me what kind of change to make on the car. If I had one change to make, I would say 50 kilos less weight! For me to have the kind of qualifying lap I did and still be P10 is unfortunate. I’m hoping for some rain during Sunday’s race.”

Jeroen Bleekemolen, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I really like the Mid-Ohio track. I have raced here twice, and the last time was in 2012 in ALMS and we won the race. I haven’t been back since, but I am certainly looking forward to racing here again tomorrow. After a great start of the season we should continue doing what we are doing. Consistent finishes are what gives you a championship. Hopefully we’ll be in a position to fight for the win tomorrow. Otherwise, we have to think about the big picture and take home the points.”

Kenny Habul, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We are just heavy here and the Mercedes-AMG GT3 feels that stress when you are trying to slow it from 170 mph. I did the best I could, I had a better lap in me but I got blocked a little bit by a Porsche on the last lap there, but that is just how it is. We just have to hope for tomorrow that things go well and we creep up slowly, but in terms of one-lap speed we don’t have it.”

Maro Engel, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “This is my first time at Mid-Ohio. The track is very challenging with plenty of elevation changes. I prepared by mainly looking at whatever relevant onboards we could find as well as getting some feedback from some colleagues in the paddock that have some good experience at Mid-Ohio. Equally, it’s good to draw on Kenny’s experience, even though the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is a different beast compared to the NASCAR cars. It was a solid start for the team at Daytona and Sebring, but more was certainly possible performance wise. The sprint races are very different in character and we will be looking to maximize our potential tomorrow.”

Owen Trinkler, Driver – No. 46 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4: "I am happy for the boys. This was the best Mercedes-AMG GT4 we've had in a race for Hugh and I. Everyone here at TeamTGM has done a great job and I can't thank Ted Giovanis enough for setting up an opportunity for us to go for the championship this year. We put ourselves in position to win races and we ran second most of the stint." 

Russell Ward, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4: “Compared to the first two races this is an awesome result. We’re moving up, these are some solid points for the team, but it would have been really nice to get a podium. All of the guys are working so hard, especially back at home. We are good under braking but suffer a little bit on the slow-speed corners and top-end. The Mercedes-AMG GT4 is the easiest car to drive compared to the others I have been in, it is just so forgiving.”

 

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