Tales from the paddock – Stefan Wendl: “We intend to celebrate our anniversary year in style”
Successful start to the new motorsport year: Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, looks back on the first races of 2020 and discusses the prospects for the teams as the season develops
- This is what happened: Results and facts
- News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
- Three questions for Stefan Wendl
- Social media news: What’s new online?
This is what happened: Results and facts
- Intercontinental GT Challenge: Maximilian Götz, Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup on the podium in the Bathurst 12 Hour
Bathurst 12 Hour sees Mercedes-AMG Motorsport continue last year’s run of IGTC success: In the season opener of the Intercontinental GT Challenge 2020 at Bathurst in Australia, the drivers of an Affalterbach-built car once again ascended the podium, thereby extending an impressive sequence of results. In eight of the last ten IGTC races, there has always been at least one Mercedes-AMG GT3 featuring among the Top Three. After a dramatic end to the 12-hour race on the Mount Panorama Circuit in Australia, it was the turn of Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering and the trio of Shane van Gisbergen (NZL), Maximilian Götz (GER) and Jamie Whincup (AUS) in the number 888 car to make a podium appearance for their third-place finish. Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing BLACK FALCON and Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing in fifth and sixth place respectively made it a strong all-round result for the brand. All three teams were fielding the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 which again demonstrated its reliability in impressive fashion after debuting at Dubai and Daytona, this time earning a podium in the general classification. The strong team performance ‘Down Under’ in the first round of the competition has been further rewarded by Mercedes-AMG taking the lead in the manufacturers’ championship by a margin of five points. Customer Racing teams achieved two more podium finishes, with the number 46 BLACK FALCON car taking third place in the Pro-Am class and the number 19 Mercedes-AMG GT4 entered by Nineteen Corp coming second in the GT4 classification. The Intercontinental GT Challenge now takes a long break until the weekend of 23rd - 26th July when Belgium hosts the second round - the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Three questions for Stefan Wendl
The first race fixtures of the 2020 season not only provided the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 with its first competitive outings but also brought Mercedes-AMG Motorsport early international successes. These included a podium finish for the new GT3 model in the IGTC season opener at Bathurst in Australia, an overall win and two class victories in the 24 Hours of Dubai and a podium lockout for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Daytona. Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, puts these early results into perspective and looks ahead to a busy year.
Stefan, with the two 24-hour races in Dubai and Daytona and the Bathurst 12 Hour now complete, we have three major events on the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing calendar behind us and first evidence of the reliability of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. How would you sum up the start of the season?
Stefan Wendl: The race in Dubai was cut short due to heavy rain, so as far as the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is concerned, we were unable to get a clear picture in the classic sense. Nevertheless, we take our victory there as a good omen for the rest of the season. The new GT3 performed very well, as we saw once again in the opening fixture of the Intercontinental GT Challenge in Bathurst. Here, we fielded three new GT3 cars, one of which secured a podium finish in P3, and all three crossed the line in the Top Six. That is very promising. And if you add the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge in Daytona into the equation, we even won two of the first four races. We knew that our Mercedes-AMG GT4s were capable of putting in a strong performance. The fact that we then monopolised the podium was impressive. It shows what a good spread we have in our Customer Racing programme.
What is the current status of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, and what further plans do you have?
Stefan Wendl: We are very satisfied with the response we are getting to the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. The demand from the customer teams is enormous, and we are working flat out on production. For our colleagues at Affalterbach, this is a tremendous challenge that everyone is working hard to rise to. After an intensive test and trial phase, the new GT3 has now also proven itself in its debut races and has already achieved some initial measure of success. I’m sure that the car is going to give us even more to smile about during the course of this season.
The GT season will only really get going in a few weeks. What are your plans?
Stefan Wendl: In March, it will be all systems go. It’s the opening month for two series that have great importance for us, namely the GT World Challenge and the Nürburgring Endurance Series. In the GT World Challenge, we will be defending our title in the manufacturers’ championship, and on the Nordschleife - the so-called ‘Green Hell’ - our teams had a record-breaking season in 2019. We want to be as well prepared as possible for the 24-hour race there at the start of the 2020 campaign, as it is our tenth anniversary year, and we intend to celebrate it in style. Sebring is also the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where we aim to improve on Daytona. There are some challenging weeks ahead for our teams, but that’s what makes it all so fascinating.
Social Media News
#MercedesAMGMotorsport / #IGTC / #B12Hr / #AMGGT3: After twelve hours of non-stop action on the Mount Panorama Circuit, Mercedes-AMG Team Triple Eight Race Engineering make it onto the Bathurst 12 Hour podium.
Watch video: www.facebook.com/MercedesAMGCustomerRacing/posts/2962673203796840
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