Tales from the paddock – Formula 1 milestone at Hockenheim plus 24-hour classic at Spa-Francorchamps
While the Silver Arrows look forward to their 200th Formula 1 race outing in the 2019 Mercedes-Benz German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Maro Engel is preparing for one of the true classics – the 24 Hours of Spa.
- This is what happened: Results and facts
- News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
- Three questions for Maro Engel
- Social media news: What’s new online?
This is what happened: Results and facts
- British GT Championship: Runner-up spot at Spa-Francorchamps goes to Ian Loggie and Callum MacLeod in a Mercedes-AMG GT3
- Blancpain GT Sports Club: Denis Remenyako produces a P1 and a P2 in the two races at Spa-Francorchamps
- Italian GT Championship: A win and a second place for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello
- Super Taikyu: Podium finish for a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the five-hour race at the Auto Polis International Racing Course
Hockenheim, here we come: The team is gearing up for a second home race within the space of a fortnight. The next fixture on the calendar after the British Grand Prix (staged not all that far from the team’s two factories at Brackley and Brixworth) is this coming weekend when Hockenheim hosts the Mercedes-Benz Großer Preis von Deutschland 2019. The race will be a very special one for the team for a number of reasons. Firstly, the race at the Hockenheimring will be the 200th Formula 1 outing for Mercedes, and secondly, the brand with the three-pointed star is celebrating 125 years of motorsport. In recent years, the German Grand Prix has been held on a biennial basis. The races in 2014, 2016 and 2018 were all won by the Silver Arrows (once Nico Rosberg, twice Lewis Hamilton). Lewis has a tally of four wins in the German Grand Prix, putting him on level pegging with record world championship winner Michael Schumacher for the number of F1 victories on German soil. Cars powered by Mercedes engines have produced a winner on no fewer than seven occasions.
Overall victory and double podium at Lime Rock in the USA: Hugh Plumb and Owen Trinkler (both USA) of Team TGM crowned an impressive performance in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with victory in the sixth race of the season. The duo in the number 46 car drove a lights-to flag victory in the two-hour contest on the Lime Rock Park circuit. They were joined on the podium by Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing (both USA) of Murillo Racing, who finished third in the number 56 Mercedes-AMG GT4. James Cox and Dylan Murry (both USA) in a Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG also made it into the points with eighth place; they are currently the highest-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3 team in the series in fifth. A successful weekend all round has lifted the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach into first place in the manufacturers’ standings, two points ahead of the nearest challenger.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was also contested at Lime Rock Park on Saturday. Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) and Ben Keating (USA) took ninth place in their class at the wheel of the only Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the line-up.
Triumph and class victories on another race weekend at Spa: Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing teams produced some commendable results in the British GT Championship. RAM Racing’s Ian Loggie and Callum MacLeod (both GBR) won the Pro-Am class (P2 overall) after two intense hours of racing on the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, earning vital championship points in the process. At the moment, the duo are fifth in the GT3 drivers’ championship, while RAM Racing are fourth in the GT3 team standings, in touching distance of the Top Three. Team Parker Racing also did well in the Belgian Ardennes: Nick Jones and Scott Malvern (both GBR) in the number 66 Mercedes-AMG GT4 took third place in the Pro-Am class and are currently sixth in the GT4 driver and team classifications. In Sunday’s race, the ABBA Racing partnership of Adam Christodoulou and Richard Neary (both GBR) came home sixth overall and fourth in the Pro-Am class.
The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps also hosted the Blancpain GT Sports Club last weekend, an event that was dominated by Mercedes-AMG with one outright victory and multiple podium finishes. In the second of the two races, Denis Remenyako (RUS) claimed victory for GetSpeed Performance after starting from third. This win rounded off a highly successful weekend for Remenyako, who had finished Saturday’s race as runner-up. Meanwhile, Lee Mowle (GBR) in the number 44 Mercedes-AMG GT3 came fifth in both races. The ERC Sport driver also took the runner-up spot in the Titanium Cup on both days.
Victory in Italy and class successes in Japan: Riccardo Agostini and Alessio Rovera (both ITA) have presented Mercedes-AMG with yet another victory in the Italian GT Championship. The Antonelli MotorSport pairing in the number 22 Mercedes-AMG GT3 won the race held at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello. This result together with a P2 on Saturday moves them up to second place in the drivers’ championship.
At the Auto Polis International Racing Course at Hita in Japan, the SATO-SS trio of Yuja Motojima, Atsushi Sato and Ryosei Yamashita (all JPN) made it onto the podium in third place. The solid result for the occupants of the number 112 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was one of several over the weekend: the number 190 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Birth Racing Project won the ST-Z class after five hours of racing and were joined on the podium by second-placed Team Endless Sports in another GT4 built in Affalterbach.
Three questions for Maro Engel
Overall winner of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, champion in the Blancpain Endurance Series and brand ambassador for Mercedes-AMG, Maro Engel has been a familiar figure on the motorsport scene for quite some time now. One title that he would dearly love to add to his collection is winner of the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps. The Munich-born driver joins Yelmer Buurman (NED) and Luca Stolz (GER) at the wheel of the number 4 car prepared by Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON for this year’s standout fixture in the Belgian Ardennes.
Physically and mentally, the race at Spa-Francorchamps imposes massive strains on the drivers. How do you go about preparing for such a marathon event, Maro?
Maro Engel: By their very nature, 24-hour races are obviously a completely different challenge to a one-hour sprint race. You have to maintain your concentration over a sustained period of time, and the incredibly dense traffic also plays a major role in endurance races. At Spa, there will be 73 GT3 cars jostling for position on seven kilometres of track – this is an enormous challenge, not least because the line-up consists exclusively of GT3 cars which are all comparable to each other in terms of performance. On the straights, there are no significant differences between the cars, so overtaking always has to be very well timed. That makes the whole thing even more challenging. Consequently, it is extremely important to go into the race sufficiently rested and hydrated. This means eating a healthy, well-balanced diet in the run-up so that your energy reserves are fully charged up. You also need a lot of sleep, of course. I personally prepare for the race with basic training and stamina-building exercises to ensure that I am at peak fitness for the race. Because physically and mentally, Spa is one of the toughest of all 24-hour events. It is one long succession of fast corners, which doesn’t give you any respite.
What is your favourite section of track during the Spa 24-hour race and why?
Maro Engel: The Spa circuit has a legendary status. It follows the natural contours of the land, which gives it an incredible rhythm from start to finish. On the subject of special cornering combinations, of course, Eau Rouge immediately springs to mind. This is absolutely unique in its own way and a highlight of the season for us drivers. However, the section that I personally find most enjoyable is the downhill double left-hander at Pouhon. It is very demanding: you brake hard for the first turn and accelerate into the second one, before you then have to negotiate Turns 11 and 12. All in all, it’s an incredibly smooth chicane that can be taken at high speed and is a lot of fun.
You have contested the 24 Hours of Spa on several previous occasions. What is your fondest memory so far, and what objectives have you set yourself for the coming race weekend?
Maro Engel: As regards atmosphere, the 24-hour race at Spa is always something very special. You can see how the fans and even the locals live for this race. You already get a sense of this during the parade on Wednesday evening when we drive our cars along the public road to Spa. It’s a quite unique feeling. The most memorable sporting moment for me to date was my victory in the British Formula 3 and my first two pole positions at Spa. To that extent, I naturally associate very fond memories with the track, and I would very much like to add to them with an appearance on the top rung of the podium. I haven’t managed to do this yet – fifth place in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 has been my top achievement so far – although we often had a better pace than results would suggest. So this year, we have set ourselves the ambitious target of winning the race, even though we know the competition will be incredibly strong again.
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