Mercedes-AMG GT4 Tied for IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Manufacturer Championship Points Lead After Fourth Place TeamTGM Finish Saturday at VIR

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A hard-earned fourth-place finish by the No. 46 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4, and co-drivers Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb, in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) Saturday kept Mercedes-AMG atop the Grand Sport (GS) class manufacturer championship standings with two races remaining on the 2019 schedule.

The defending GS driver and team champions and VIR race winners, Trinkler, Plumb and TeamTGM led a run of three Mercedes-AMG GT4 teams in the top-eight finishing positions.
 

After the No. 46 team’s fourth place showing, Mercedes-AMG is tied with its nearest competitor at 239 points but maintains the first-place ranking based on two 2019 race wins over the competitor’s single victory.
 

The two-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge race was run in mainly rainy conditions that resulted in a variety of strategy calls and numerous on-track incidents.

 

The No. 46 gambled on running the same Michelin Pilot dry-weather slick tires for the entire race and ended up with TeamTGM’s second-best finish of the season. Three races ago at Lime Rock Park, Trinkler, Plumb and the No. 46 team won their first race of the season.
 

The No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Russell Ward and Indy Dontje finished seventh. The result was the team’s best since finishing sixth in January’s season-opening race in Daytona and ended a run of bad luck this summer that kept the No. 33 from competing in the two most recent races at Lime Rock and Road America.
 

Eighth place went to the No. 46’s sister TeamTGM No. 4 Mercedes-AMG GT4 entry of Ted Giovanis and Guy Cosmo. The finish was the best of the season for Giovanis and Cosmo and the first time this year both TeamTGM entries took the checkered flag in the top-10.
 

In Saturday’s qualifying session for tomorrow’s weekend featured Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech Championship race, Ben Keating was the quickest of two Mercedes-AMG GT3 entries in the Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports No. 33.
 

Keating overcame some late slow traffic and the bad timing of being among the first to take the checkered flag on a drying track to post the seventh fastest GT Daytona (GTD) lap of the 15-minute qualifying session.
 

Gar Robinson handled qualifying duties for the No. 74 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he co-drives in tomorrow’s race with Lawson Aschenbach. The No. 74 team gambled on rain tires for qualifying in the damp conditions, but the track continued to dry and left Robinson and other competitors on rain tires at a disadvantage to the rest of the slick-tired field. Robinson starts on the outside of row six in the No. 74 after posting the 12th fastest GTD qualifying time.
 

The Michelin GT Challenge is the second of two races on the IMSA WeatherTech Championship schedule featuring only the GTD and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes. As they did last month at Lime Rock Park, Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams and other GTD class entries share the track only with the more powerful GTLM class cars at VIR.
 

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. Live coverage begins on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live streaming available to international viewers on IMSA.tv.
 

Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I got really unlucky in two different ways. The first half of that session was pretty sketchy. Every lap was getting better and better. If you look at the order of the qualifying times, it almost exactly matches who was the last to take the checkered flag. I was the first person to take the checkered flag. Everybody got one more lap than I got, and each lap was about two seconds worth of time. It was getting that much dryer and that much faster. I would have been a lot quicker, but on my last lap, even though it as my quick lap, I got held up hugely by a car that was on rain tires in the Esses going super slow. You can't pass in the Esses and they didn't seem to want to get out of my way. I'm really disappointed, I think I would have had a chance to be on the pole. With one more lap, I'm confident I would have been on the pole. But it is what it is. We've had a fast Mercedes-AMG GT3 all weekend and I'm looking forward to the race.”
 

Gar Robinson, Driver – No. 74 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I know we were pretty quick toward the beginning of the session, but I think everyone's slick tires started coming up. It was a gamble we took. We were hoping it was going to rain again. On the bright side, we can start on stickers tomorrow and most of the others can't. I would like to see a long run tomorrow, but I don't think that is in the cards. The competition has been pretty frisky the past couple of days. I think the end of my stint and the end of the race will be pretty exciting.”
 

Lawson Aschenbach, Driver – No. 74 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Our car has been fairly stout in the dry. I'm happy with our long run pace at the moment. It remains to be seen where everyone is, but overall, I'm pleased with the progress this weekend. We seem to be going in the right direction. Trying to balance everything at a place like this is pretty tough, with all the curb striking and high-speed corners. I'm optimistic that if things fall our way, we have a strong car to fight for a podium.”
 

Hugh Plumb, Driver – No. 46 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4: “I've always said that VIR literally throws everything at you possible. From the heat to the rain to the difficult race track that it is. Add in a 12th place starting spot into, mixed with a little bit of trying to do what the rest of the field isn't by staying out on dry tires when it's raining, and it makes it pretty exciting and nerve wracking. We were all on the same playing field at the end in terms of just the tricky conditions and trying to keep the race car on the track. At the end of the day, I'm happy for the guys because we did all the right things. We're the highest placed Mercedes-AMG GT4 with the TeamTGM guys doing everything they could. I'm happy about that.”

 

Owen Trinkler, Driver – No. 46 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4: I think it was a good run for us. We just missed the podium by a little bit there at the end. What a start. The seas kind of parted a little bit for me and it opened up. I was able to make the moves and we gained back some track position because we had to start on points. I think I gained six spots. We stayed on slicks once the rain came out. I don't know if we really wanted it to rain once we got our track position, but the Mercedes-AMG GT4 performed great in all conditions. We stayed on the same set of Michelins the whole race. Hugh did a great job. It was a good, solid run which we kind of needed. It's our second top five this year, after a win at Lime Rock, and we're back on a roll here. We will see if we can crawl our way back into the top five in points by the end of the year.”
 

Indy Dontje, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4: “This is a great track. It was my first time at VIR, but I practiced a lot on the simulator. Still, if you come here in real life there are a lot of fast corners and it's really difficult, but I enjoyed every lap. It's a beautiful place and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 goes really well in the fast corners. The handling is really great from this car. It's a good result for the team. We really needed it. We've had some bad luck this season, even some issues in this race, but we maximized the result with a P7 and I'm happy for the team.”
 

Ted Giovanis, Driver – No. 4 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4: “I think everything worked out pretty well given the sketchy conditions. We were hoping that it would be dry during the race but that wasn't to be. It was raining in one part of the track, but not in other parts, and people were running over the curbs and dragging mud all over. It was more about survival. All in all, I think it was a great finish, a great finish for TGM, and the highest we've finished all year in the No. 4. Hugh reminded me that I'm not that bad in the wet. So, during the yellow, I was watching everybody running some kind of rain line, seeing what they were doing even though we weren't racing. So, I was getting ready to do it, I'm growing.”
 

Guy Cosmo, Driver – No. 4 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4: “It's amazing. We've had a really rough season. Despite the guys winning at Lime Rock, we've had a lot of tough luck, really tough races and just a really challenging year. We know that this team is one of the strongest out there through and through. To come into this race and see all of these varying conditions, that is where this team shines. Going out on a brand-new set of slicks when it was still very wet was challenging, but man did it pay off. To go flying through the field, and then pass the leader and get my lap back and, put we in a position to race was really satisfying. Ted did a great job of keeping it on track and handed it off to me in a higher position than he has in a long time. I'm stoked. It gives us good confidence going into the next round.”

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