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Customer Racing: Season review 2017: Challenges, Champions and Charity – Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing is looking back upon a successful 2017 GT3 season

With championship titles in the most important international GT3 series and an impressive victory in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing concludes a really successful motorsport year 2017. Last weekend’s end-of-season celebration concluded the season in style and included the prize-giving for the brand-internal champions: for the second time in a row, Kenneth Heyer wins in the ‘PRO-DRIVER’ category, Michael Kroll is the best ‘DRIVER’ and the AKKA ASP Team wins the ‘TEAMS’ classification, also for the second consecutive year.

  • A successful 2017 motorsport season for Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing
  • Kenneth Heyer (PRO DRIVER), Michael Kroll (DRIVER) and the AKKA ASP Team are the 2017 Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship winners
  • Successful test races for the Mercedes-AMG GT4
  • “Passion for Good“: racing miles for charity 

The venue for the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing end-of-season party couldn’t have been more suitable: the gold mine of Fellbach near Stuttgart was the location that the brand from Affalterbach had chosen to celebrate, together with its Customer Racing teams, a brilliant season that was crowned with ‘gold’ by winning the FIA GT World Cup only a few days before. In Macau, Edoardo Mortara (ITA) clinched the champion’s title. Together with Maro Engel (GER), who finished third with his Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG also won the constructors’ title. Thus, after the success in the inaugural running in 2015, the World Cup title goes to Affalterbach for the second time already.

A strong debut season in North America The debut season of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship also ended in a successful way in the season finale at Road Atlanta in early October: with the triple title win for drivers, teams and manufacturers in the demanding Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 also proved its outstanding endurance racing qualities in an impressive way in the US. In the overall IMSA standings, the Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports scored enough points with top results and victories at Sebring and at the Circuit of the Americas (Austin) to conclude the maiden year as runner-up in the final teams’ standings.

Victories and titles in the Blancpain GT Series In the European Blancpain GT Series, last year’s winner Maximilian Buhk (GER) and his team-mate Franck Perera (FRA) became runners-up in the final drivers’ standings. The two youngsters Fabian Schiller (GER) and Jules Szymkowiak (NED) celebrated the Silver Cup drivers’ and teams’ titles together with HTP Motorsport. The Blancpain GT Series season highlight, the Spa 24 Hours, produced another highlight: French team AKKA ASP finished third overall after an extremely thrilling finale of the marathon race and BLACK FALCON won in the Pro-AM classification. For Mercedes-AMG, the Asian version of the Blancpain GT Series was equally successful: in the inaugural season of the new race series, Hunter Abbott (GBR) and GruppeM Racing claimed the drivers’ and teams’ titles.

Endurance championships in Japan and Australia The Super GT Series had double success in store for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 2017: GOODSMILE RACING came out on top in the battle for the title ahead of fellow Mercedes-AMG GT3 team LEON RACING and thus secured the first championship title for Mercedes-AMG in the Japanese race series. ‘Down Under’, the Customer Racing teams added success as well, first and foremost Eggleston Motorsport that clinched the Australian Endurance Championship title with its drivers Peter Hackett (AUS) and Dominic Storey (NZL).

Successful test races with the Mercedes-AMG GT4 The expansion of the Customer Racing Programme was consequently pushed ahead in 2017 with the development of the Mercedes-AMG GT4. Throughout the year, the new competition car completed a comprehensive test programme during which the prototypes racked up almost 50,000 kilometres at over ten different circuits in Europe and the US, including a 30 hours’ endurance run at the Lausitzring. The first test in racing conditions was held during the fifth round of the VLN series at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife and resulted into a class win. The further endurance races at Portimão, Spa-Francorchamps and the Circuit of the Americas were equally successful, so that the first GT4 cars will be delivered as planned before the end of this year. The Mercedes-AMG GT4 will be making its official competition debut in the hands of the first Customer Racing Teams during the Dubai 24 Hours at the beginning of January.

A worthy end-of-season party 2017 The international Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing family assembled for the huge end-of-season party on 2 December. Some of the approximately 230 guests came a long way, among others from Australia, China, Japan or the US. During the event, the winners of the 2017 Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship* were honoured. For the second consecutive time already, Kenneth Heyer (GER) scored the most points in the PRO DRIVER classification while Michael Kroll (SUI) became champion in the DRIVER category. Both winners were delighted to be presented with a new Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupé. Jules Szymkowiak (NED) and Christiaan Frankenhout (NED) followed Heyer in second and third place respectively while Roland Eggimann (SUI) and Chantal Kroll (SUI) claimed the next positions in the DRIVER category. Once again, the AKKA ASP Team won the TEAM title: the French team led by Jérôme Policand also clinched the title for the second time. The BLACK FALCON and HTP Motorsport teams followed in second and third place respectively. With almost 60 teams and over 230 drivers, the Customer Racing Championship continues to grow and is a huge success. From 2018, it is also possible to score points with the Mercedes-AMG GT4, which is making the battle for the championship crown even more thrilling.

Every kilometre counts – for racing success and for charity Not only from a sporting perspective, the 2017 season was a huge success for Mercedes-AMG: next to the victories achieved in racing, the company also took care of its own social responsibilities and successfully established this in motorsport by means of the ‘Passion for Good’ initiative. Starting with the Spa 24 Hours, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport’s Performance Teams collected donations for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation with every race. Acting on a global basis, the foundation is using the power of sport to take care of children and youngsters who are at a disadvantage. Within the initiative, Mercedes-AMG is donating one Euro to the ‘Passion for Good’ initiative for every kilometre completed in racing. With the final competition kilometres of the four Performance cars in the Macau Grand Prix, teams have completed a total of 14,298 kilometres over the course of the season. Combined with the final donation of 25,000 Euros, this amounted to a total of 39,298 Euros at the end of the season. Mercedes-AMG rounded out the amount to 50,000 Euros and presented the cheque to the Laureus support project KICKFORMORE in Ostfildern, Germany. The street football project is supporting youngsters to discover and unfold their potentials. Thus, the participants develop skills to build up positive perspectives for the future, both in their professional and in their personal life. The involvement will continue in the 2018 racing season.

Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador and patron of ‘ Passion for Good’: “I am really delighted about the great result of the donation campaign. For my team-mates and myself, this initiative by Mercedes-AMG was an additional motivation to give our utmost in every race as every single kilometre is not only getting you closer to possible competition success, but can also change young people’s lives. I am proud to be involved as a patron for ‘ Passion for Good’ and I am already looking forward to getting to know the kids from KICKFORMORE when we visit the project next year and also to see how the funds from our donation have been used.”

Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: “It is really impressive to see our Customer Racing Programme having grown to an impressive international motorsport family. The numerous victories and titles prove that we are offering a very competitive package to our customers all over the world with our Mercedes-AMG GT3 of which we have produced over 100 to date. After a fantastic debut season in 2016 that already exceeded our expectations, the success story seamlessly continued in 2017, the year of our 50th brand anniversary. That includes the debut in the demanding North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, an important step in the expansion of the Customer Racing Programme. We were able to conclude this debut season with a title in the endurance classification as well. Personally, I am happy for the entire AMG team that we were able to crown our involvement in motorsport this year with the FIA GT World Cup. However, we will not rest on our laurels after these brilliant achievements. Our Mercedes-AMG GT4 is also ready to race on the road to success from next season onwards. As a direct derivative of our AMG GT R road sports car, it will be the benchmark in the GT4 series and further strengthen our ambition as the leading sports car and performance brand. I am looking forward to a thrilling new motorsport season during which the team spirit in Affalterbach and the huge commitment from our Customer Racing teams and drivers will help to continue the success story of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Programme.”      

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “First of all, I would like to extend my thanks and my congratulations to all drivers, teams and the colleagues at Mercedes-AMG and HWA. Only together, we were able to celebrate this highly successful season with many championships and numerous race wins. Every season comes with new challenges and obstacles that we were able to deal with together and in close co-operation. Every single one can be proud of that. The end-of-season party was a great finale in a familiar atmosphere to reflect on the most successful and most beautiful moments of the season. At the same time, we are already looking ahead to the new season as well. We are in the final stages of the preparation to deliver the new Mercedes-AMG GT4 and to prepare for the upcoming races together with the teams. The huge demand for the new GT4 exceeds our expectations and we will do everything to meet all the inquiries as quickly as possible. After the demanding and extensive test races of the Mercedes-AMG GT4, we are convinced that we will be able to deliver a car to our Customer Racing teams that is competitive and capable of winning from the outset. The start of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 is the next big step for the Customer Racing Programme and I am really looking forward to the first races in January.”

Remarkable facts & figures from the 2017 season:

  • Mercedes-AMG GT3: over 45 overall wins, 125 podium finishes, 240 races and 730 starts.
  • Almost 60 teams and over 230 drivers raced a Mercedes-AMG GT3 or an SLS AMG GT3.
  • Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing competed in 21 countries at 74 race tracks.
  • Double winners: Kenneth Heyer and the AKKA ASP Team win the Customer Racing Championship PRO DRIVER and TEAM titles for the second year in a row.
  • A top performance: in total, Raffaele Marciello (ITA) spent almost 14 hours behind the wheel of his Mercedes-AMG GT3 during the Spa 24 Hours – eventually, he and his team were rewarded with third place.
  • Successful debut season in North America: a podium finish in the maiden race, the Daytona 24 Hours, victory in the Sebring 12 Hours, a 1-2 at Long Beach as well as winner of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup and runner-up in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
  • Super GT Series (Japan): four wins, four second places and one third place are on the achievement list of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the eighth Super GT races.
  • Fast youngsters: With HTP Motorsport, Fabian Schiller and Jules Szymkowiak were always on the podium in the Silver Cup of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup with seven class wins and three second places.
  • Blancpain GT Series Asia: Three victories and three further podium finishes for Hunter Abbott and GruppeM Racing. On the way to the championship title, the two Mercedes-AMG drivers Maximilian Buhk and Maximilian Götz as well as Raffaele Marciello supported the Brit.
  • 24H Series: Hofor Racing not only dominated the 24H Series with four class wins and a third place, its five drivers Michael Kroll, Roland Eggimann, Chantal Kroll (first to third place, DRIVER) as well as Kenneth Heyer and Christiaan Frankenhout (first and third place, PRO DRIVER) also collected the silverware in the Customer Racing Championship.

Achievements in the 2017 season:

Race series Title Class Team Driver(s)
FIA GT World Cup Macau Driver Champion Overall Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy Edoardo Mortara
FIA GT World Cup Macau Manufacturer Champion Overall Mercedes-AMG GmbH Edoardo Mortara, Maro Engel
24 Hours of Spa Winner Pro-AM class BLACK FALCON Oliver Morley, Miguel Toril, Marvin Kirchhöfer, Maximilian Götz
12h Sebring / IMSA Winner GTD class Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Mario Farnbacher
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Driver, Team & Manufacturer Champion Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Mario Farnbacher
Australian Endurance Championship Driver Champion Overall Eggleston Motorsport Peter Hackett, Dominic Storey
Super GT Series Driver & Team Champion GT300 GOODSMILE RACING & TeamUKYO Nobuteru Taniguchi, Tatsuya Kataoka
Blancpain GT Series Asia Driver & Team Champion Overall and Pro-AM class GruppeM Racing Hunter Abbott
Blancpain GT Series Driver & Team Champion Silver Cup HTP Motorsport Fabian Schiller, Jules Szymkowiak
24H Series Driver & Team Champion Overall as well as classes A6, A6-AM and GT Hofor Racing Michael Kroll, Chantal Kroll, Roland Eggimann, Christiaan Frankenhout, Kenneth Heyer
24H Series Driver Champion Ladies Cup Hofor Racing Chantal Kroll
Blancpain GT Sports Club Driver Champion Overall AKKA ASP Team Anthony Pons
International GT Open Driver Champion Overall Sports & You António Coimbra, Luis Silva
STT – Spezial Tourenwagen Trophy Driver Champion Overall Kornely Motorsport Oscar Tunjo
3 Ore Endurance Champions Cup Driver Champion GT3 class MDC-Sports Adrian Zumstein, Manuel Zumstein

* In the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship, all Mercedes-AMG GT drivers from the various race series all over the world are up against each other. Only Mercedes-AMG Performance Teams are not eligible to participate in the TEAM classification. Drivers from teams with extended works support and drivers who are contracted to Mercedes-AMG or Daimler AG are not eligible to score points for the drivers’ standings. 

Press release Mercedes-AMG


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