Three Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams will debut Mercedes-AMG GT3 race cars in this weekend’s season-opening Pirelli World Challenge event on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, March 9 – 12. The doubleheader weekend event, which features 50-minute races on Saturday and Sunday, will see the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 race in the top- tier GT class, while the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and No. 69 Champ1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 will compete in the GTA class.
Ryan Dalziel will drive the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 this season in an all-out bid for the 2017 GT-class championship. In the GTA class, which is for sportsman drivers, Tim Pappas will drive the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes- AMG GT3 and Pablo Perez Companc will drive the No. 69 Champ1 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
From 2013 through last year, Pappas and other privateer competitors raced Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3 cars in Pirelli World Challenge competition, but the expanded 2017 Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing program is the largest motorsports effort to date for Mercedes-AMG in North America. Mercedes- AMG Motorsport Customer Racing is also supporting several teams competing in the endurance-racing-based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
All Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams compete in the latest version of the Mercedes-AMG GT3, featuring a hand-built, naturally-aspirated, 6.3- liter V8.
Based on the Mercedes-AMG GT S road car, Mercedes-AMG GT3 race cars
compete with the same technical specifications in the Pirelli World Challenge GT and GTA classes.
The St. Petersburg Pirelli World Challenge schedule begins with afternoon practice this Thursday, March 9th. A 20-minute qualifying session for the GT and GTA classes starts at 10:05 a.m. EST on Friday, March 10th, to set the starting field for the weekend’s first 45-minute race. Round 1 is scheduled to start at 9:35 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 11th, with the second and final GT/GTA sprint of the weekend scheduled to start at 3:15 p.m. EST on Sunday, March 12th.
Broadcast information, live timing and scoring and more information can be found at www.world-challenge.com.
Ryan Dalziel, Driver – No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The Mercedes- AMG GT3 has been a constant front running car since its introduction last year in every championship it has raced in. I am really confident we can keep up that current tradition and make the Mercedes-AMG brand proud. Both CRP Racing and myself have had success in Pirelli World Challenge working with different manufacturers and drivers, but I think, together with our new relationship with Mercedes-AMG, we are a really strong force. Mercedes-AMG has developed an amazing race car. It’s quite different for the driver, but I’m a big believer in a good race car is a good race car, and my initial thoughts after shaking it down was how well behaved it was for the driver.”
Tim Pappas, Driver – No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3 in 2013 and 2014. The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 platform has proven to be a positive improvement over the Mercedes-AMG SLS GT3, especially in front-end mechanical grip. I was immediately comfortable in the car during pre-season testing. We’re excited for the season-opener in St. Petersburg and look forward to a fruitful season.”
Pablo Perez Companc, Driver – No. 69 Champ1 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I have heard wonderful things about the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Every driver I know that has driven the car has said it is really stable and the weight balance of the car is good. We were able to test for one day last week, and I don’t know if the word is easy, but it is really comfortable to go to the limit with the car. It was the first time I drove a car with a front engine, I thought it was going to push the whole time, but it doesn’t. It is very well balanced and the braking and speed in the corners was really superior. This will be my first time in Pirelli World Challenge and I wanted to make sure we had the right weapon — the best car available is the Mercedes-AMG GT3.”
Nicholas Short, Team Owner – No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “From an owner’s perspective, the chance of winning Pirelli World Challenge races and the championship has never been better. With the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Ryan Dalziel, we have put together one of the best car and driver combinations of the 2017 season. It’s a new program, the biggest similarity between last year’s car and this year’s car is the color, but a recent test at Sebring allowed us to get familiar with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and run all of the system tests and the break-in mileage that we needed to do. We never got to run a serious lap at speed but were very happy with how the car responded to changes.”
Jose Collado Mendez, Team Owner – No. 69 Champ1 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We took delivery of the car just last Monday. We knew we were on a tight schedule, and Pablo had never driven the car, so last Friday, March 3rd, we were able to get on Palm Beach International Raceway. After we sorted some things out, Pablo did some long stints and was running very consistent lap times. He was really happy at the end, was really able to find the balance of the car, and we left Palm Beach on a positive note from that test. The biggest thing is to finish our first races this weekend. If we end up on the podium that would be great, but street circuits can be very demanding.”