The Customer Racing programme having been founded in 2010, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach is meanwhile taking on its tenth season of GT racing. The legendary gullwing, the SLS AMG GT3, already enjoyed early maiden success in its debut season and enthused teams, drivers and fans with its unmistakable design and sound in equal measure. From 2016 and 2018 onwards, the respective successors with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 raised the bar for success even higher. In 2019, the Customer Racing teams seamlessly continued from the record season 2018 and celebrated over 40 championship wins. In the process, titles in renowned race series such as the Blancpain GT Series, VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring and not least victory in the FIA GT World Cup at Macau once again underlined Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing’s ambition to dominate in the GT segment.
This year, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams will again be competing in high-class and internationally popular motorsport formats. With the Intercontinental GT Challenge, the GT World Challenge (formerly Blancpain GT Series), the North American IMSA race series, the Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie (formerly VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring), ADAC GT Masters and the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps, numerous renowned motorsport events are in the limelight again in 2020, next to many other race series in around 30 countries worldwide. Not least, the title defence in the FIA GT World Cup at Macau in November is at the top of the agenda. In 2020, the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the refreshed Mercedes-AMG GT4 will be present as well for the first time in 2020. The Dubai 24 Hours (9-11 January / 24H Series), the Rolex 24 At Daytona (22-26 January / IMSA) and the Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia (30 January-2 February / IGTC) mark the start of the season.
Mercedes-AMG and BLACK FALCON aiming at fifth Dubai victory
The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be making its official competition debut for 2020 in the season opener at Dubai (9-11 January). Next to an overhauled design, the car also shines with numerous technical optimisations. Here, the teams SPS automotive performance (#10) and CP Racing (#85) that are also part of the wider circle of favourites for success in the 24-hour race in the desert metropolis will be running the evolution version. The same can be said for the BLACK FALCON team that has already scored four overall wins in the Dubai 24-hour race (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018). In the 15th running of the event, the team from Meuspath in Germany intends to add the fifth outright win with the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and drivers Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), Ben Barker (GBR), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), Hubert Haupt (GER) and Manuel Metzger (GER). Five further Mercedes-AMG GT3s of the teams HTP WINWARD Motorsport (#84), MP Motorsports (#19), Team Hong Kong Craft-Bamboo Racing (#69) and Toksport WRT (#70 and #777) as well as four Mercedes-AMG GT4s of the teams Atlas BX Motorsports (#403), Ciceley Motorsport (#462), Leipert Motorsport (#410) and QSR Racing (#754) round out the line-up at the 5.39 kilometre long Dubai Autodrome. The race gets underway on Friday, 10 January, at 15.00 hrs local time (noon CET).
Mission title defence in North America
Hardly a fortnight later, the next 24-hour highlight for Mercedes-AMG beckons with the Rolex 24 At Daytona (22-26 January). Traditionally, the classic endurance race serves as the season opener of the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and therefore, it is here that the mission title defence is starting for Riley Motorsports and Mercedes-AMG Motorsport as well. In 2019, the triple of drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ title in the GTD class of the Michelin Endurance Cup was achieved with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the third consecutive year. With the quartet of Lawson Aschenbach (USA), Felipe Fraga (BRA), Ben Keating (USA) and Gar Robinson (USA) behind the wheel of the #74 Mercedes-AMG GT3, the foundation for further championship success is to be laid at the legendary Daytona International Speedway. The race starts on Saturday, 25 January, at 13.35 hrs local time (19.35 hrs CET). Teams already successfully completed initial test laps of the 5.7 kilometres long track during the three-day ‘Roar Before the Rolex 24’ test in early January.
Also at Daytona Beach, the four-hour season opening race of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge will be held. Thanks to invariably strong achievements by the Customer Racing Teams, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport was able to secure its maiden manufacturers’ title win in the series last year and therefore will be starting the 2020 season as the defending champion here as well. During the season opener, there will be a total of eight GT4 cars from the teams Bluff City Racing / Autometrics Motorsports (#14), Winward Racing (#33 and #57), Riley Motorsports (#35), Murillo Racing (#56 and #65), RENNtech Motorsports (#90) and Scuderia 111 (tba) on the grid.
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “Ten years of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing, that is something really special to us. In the past decade, we have had extraordinary achievements and worked hard to secure a leading position in the international customer racing segment. For our anniversary year, our aim is to defend this position and to reinforce it with further achievements. Like in the previous years, this season again includes many important races in high-class series around the globe, and in the odd series in which we just missed out on winning the title in 2019, we want to get the title back to Affalterbach in the new year. Traditionally, the classic endurance races at Dubai and Daytona are the start, with even more anticipation from us because of the participation of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. We wish all teams and drivers good luck in the new 2020 season.”