Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Set to compete across two IMSA Racing Series in Season-Opening Rolex 24 At Daytona
Seven Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Entries Compete this Weekend in Season-Opening Races at Daytona International Speedway
– DAYTONA BEACH, Florida
A stable of three Mercedes-AMG GT3 entries and 12 drivers carry the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing flag this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The weekend's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 At Daytona runs from January 30 – 31. The three-strong Mercedes-AMG GT3 Rolex 24 effort is joined by four Mercedes-AMG GT4 entries, competing in Friday's season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.
America's premier 24-hour race takes place for the 59th time this weekend in Daytona Beach. Live coverage of the Rolex 24 At Daytona begins on the flagship NBC network at 3:30 p.m. EST this Saturday, January 30. International viewers can watch live at www.IMSA.tv.
The highest starting Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Rolex 24 is the No. 57 Winward Racing entry, starting from fifth. The No. 57 GT3 is co-driven by Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Indy Dontje and Maro Engel.
Ward and Ellis co-drove the No. 57 to a fifth place GT Daytona (GTD) class finish in last Sunday's qualifying race, which took place as part of the Roar before the Rolex 24 weekend. The No. 57 rolls off from the same position on the grid for the start of Saturday's race, which marks the Rolex 24 debut for the Winward team and drivers Ward, Ellis and Dontje.
Mercedes-AMG GT3 competitors SunEnergy1 Racing and Alegra Motorsports also locked down Rolex 24 starting spots in Sunday's qualifying race.
Co-drivers Kenny Habul and Raffaele Marciello will start from 10th in the Rolex 24 GTD field, driving the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Marciello makes his Rolex 24 debut this weekend alongside race veterans Habul, Mikael Grenier and Luca Stolz.
Alegra Motorsports is set for a full-season of IMSA WeatherTech GTD competition in the team's first year with Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing. The No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 starts 14th in GTD for the Rolex 24, piloted in the qualifying race by Daniel Morad and Michael de Quesada.
Morad and de Quesada were part of Alegra's GTD class-winning team in the 2017 Rolex 24 race. They are joined in Alegra's Mercedes-AMG GT3 debut by Billy Johnson and Maxi Buhk.
Friday's IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge opener is one of two four-hour events on the 2021 schedule, the longest races of the year.
Wednesday's practice session saw the No. 56 Murillo Racing GT4 entry, co-driven by Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss, post the fastest laps of the four Mercedes-AMG GT4 entries competing in the top-tier Grand Sport (GS) class. Mosing and Foss were also the fastest Mercedes-AMG GT4 competitors in last weekend's Roar Before the Rolex 24 test.
Murillo Racing's sister entry, the No. 65 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Brent Mosing and Tim Probert, will be co-driven by Kenny Murillo in the four- hour Daytona opener.
Another three driver Mercedes-AMG GT4 entry set for Friday's four-hour race is the No.10 LAP Motorsports/Bluff City Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. The No. 10 is co-driven by Anton Dias Perera, Scott Andrews and Colin Braun.
In addition to their Rolex 24 program, Ward and Dontje return this year to IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge competition in the No. 4 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. Ward and Dontje finished third in the entry in last year's four-hour race at Daytona.
Official WeatherTech Championship and Pilot Challenge competition begins Thursday on the 3.56-mile Daytona road course with practice for both series and GS qualifying at 2:45 p.m. EST. The WeatherTech Championship runs morning, afternoon and night practice sessions in preparation for the Rolex 24.
A fourth and final WeatherTech Championship practice Friday paves the way for the day's feature Michelin Pilot Challenge four-hour race which is scheduled to start at 1:35 p.m. EST.
Saturday's only on-track activity is the 3:40 p.m. EST start of the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona which concludes 24 hours later at 3:40 p.m. EST Sunday, January 31.
Indy Dontje, Driver – No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and No. 4 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: "I think we had a really good week. The Roar was a good preparation for us to get ready for our first 24 as a team. We are a rookie team here at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, but we're confident to finish this race high. Of course, we need luck and performance during the whole race, but all of our drivers are ready to go and perform well this weekend. Winward Racing is a great team and a good mix of Europeans and Americans. I think in Europe we have a little different approach to 24-hour racing compared to Americans, but on the other hand it's good to have both sets of experience and get that together. I think this package together makes this team unique in the paddock and that might make a difference in the race this Saturday."
Luca Stolz, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We've got particularly good teammates and I'm really proud that Kenny put the team together. We have a strong line-up and team and a good car. I'm definitely looking forward to it. After three days of testing at the Roar, we did some good things on the car which really helped. The Mercedes- AMG GT3 feels really nice to drive, and if the stars align, we can win it. Back in Europe, you don't do banking, so it's really fun to come here. There are not so many corners, so it's not that challenging, but the race itself is so exciting because there's so much traffic and so much going on. It's always really interesting. For us European guys, it's always hard to learn the rules from IMSA for the wave around and other things, but we're really enjoying it because the race is not over until the very last hour. If you have a problem at the beginning, you can still catch up, so it's really good fun."
Tim Probert, Driver – No. 65 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: "We're excited to be back, and we're really excited to have Kenny as part of the driving trio for us here this weekend. The Murillo team has worked really hard to give us a terrific car, and we're just excited for this four- hour race. We are extremely fortunate that we have a fantastic team, and the guys work very hard. They practice as hard as anyone and they put us as drivers on the spot to make sure we do our part too. Daytona is fantastic. It's always such an awesome feeling to be here. For me personally, that first track walk that we have, which is typically in the evening, is great. You look back across the grandstand and see the beautiful red sky. It's absolutely amazing."
Anton Dias Perera, Driver – No. 10 LAP Motorsports/Bluff City Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: "What started out as a stress reliever for me has become a second career. I don't know what I would do if motorsports suddenly stopped. I'm based in Memphis, and we have some motorsports there, but we're never in the news much motorsports-wise. So, it's good to represent Memphis with our Bluff City Racing car, hopefully hit a few podiums and get some visibility. The four-hour race is a fantastic race. Michelin Pilot Challenge is an extremely competitive series. It's always a mix of strategy. We'll be trying to place as high as we can. My last four- hour race I had butterflies in my stomach, so this year we're trying to win."