Three Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports teams qualified Thursday for the 55th Rolex 24 At Daytona (January 28 – 29) at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) where the Mercedes-AMG GT3 makes its competition debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Teams will now shift focus to race preparation and strategy and rely on the proven reliability of the Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Boris Said was the top qualifying Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports driver in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with a lap time of 1:48.969 on the 3.56- mile DIS road course.
Said will start 18th on the GT Daytona (GTD) class grid, one spot ahead of Ben Keating who qualified 19th in the No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes- AMG GT3. Keating’s top lap time was 1:49.056.
The No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 will start 24th in the GTD field after Cooper MacNeil qualified at 1:49.809.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car is based on the Mercedes-AMG GT S road car and is equipped with a hand-built, naturally-aspirated 6.3-liter V8. All teams race with the full support of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports program.
A one-hour practice session Friday at 10 a.m. EST is the final time IMSA WeatherTech competitors will take to the DIS road course prior to the start of the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EST.
The Rolex 24 will be streamed live on IMSA.tv to an international audiences while live US television coverage begins with a FOX Network three-hour telecast Saturday at 2 p.m. EST. The balance of the Rolex 24 television coverage in the US will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX Sports (FS2), including the race’s final hours, the finish and post-race coverage on FS1 on Sunday, January 29, from 12:30 to 3:00
Thomas Jaeger, AMG Customer Sports Program Coordinator and Driver – No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Many things can happen, the car has been very reliable in the last long-distance races, and over a stint the tire degradation is pretty good. We may have a small advantage there but we will have to slipstream racing other cars. At the Roar test earlier this month we felt we were competitive, but we had a BoP change, so we have had to analyze everything. We did everything we could for qualifying, ran with less rear wing to reduce drag, and we will take a look at the data, compare it to the test, and see where we are losing most of the time.”
Boris Said, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “That was my first time in the car, my first practice laps were basically in qualifying, so all- in-all it wasn’t too bad. I feel like I left a lot on the table, I didn’t get my best lap, but we have a pretty decent car for the race, and it is a long race. I feel like they don’t have the BoP exactly right. There’s a few cars out of the window, but if they dial them back I think we will be right there.”
Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The fact is we were flat out at the Roar test but I think it is obvious others were not. It’s funny, the slowest cars at the Roar happen to be on the front row in Rolex 24 qualifying. We have the most aggressive air restrictor of any car in the field, but we are still going to go out there and work at it.”
Cooper MacNeil, Driver – No. 50 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “With the latest BoP, we lost a good seven to eight miles per hour to the top cars. I can literally feel on the straightaways how much slower we’re going now compared to a few weeks ago. I can physically feel the difference, which tells me it’s not a little, it’s a lot. The good news is the car is pretty quick in the infield. It was a little loose for me during qualifying, so I was dealing with some oversteer issues the whole time, but I’m really focusing on driving smoothly and not kick the rear out.”