Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams look to close out the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season the same winning way they started it nearly 10 months ago with another major endurance race victory in Saturday’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams Winward Racing and Alegra Motorsports will compete in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in Saturday’s 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans race that is the finale of both the full-season WeatherTech Championship and the four-race Michelin Endurance Cup that awards the top performers in the year’s four long-distance races. In addition to the pair of Mercedes-AMG GT3 entries in Saturday’s WeatherTech Championship GTD finale, three Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer Mercedes-AMG GT4 teams compete in Friday’s season-ending Michelin Pilot Challenge two-hour race on the 2.54-mile road course North of Atlanta.
The Motul Petit Le Mans is scheduled to start this Saturday, November 13, at 12:10 p.m. EST. International viewers can watch live at www.imsa.com/tv/.
In January’s season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway (DIS), Winward Racing and team co-drivers Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Maro Engel and Indy Dontje earned the first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory for the Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The team and drivers secured the historic Daytona win – the first Rolex 24 victory for Mercedes-Benz or Mercedes-AMG in the 59-year history of the race – in Winward’s debut in both the Rolex 24 and the IMSA WeatherTech GTD class. The victory was also the first for all four drivers in any series at the “World Center of Racing.”
Winward returns to the WeatherTech series at Petit Le Mans for the first time since the Daytona triumph. Ward, Ellis and Engel co-drive a new and debuting version of the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 they and Dontje co-drove to the Rolex 24 win.
Engel, a Mercedes-AMG Motorsport driver, makes his Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta debut in contention for the Michelin Endurance Cup GTD driver championship. Within the overall WeatherTech championship, the Michelin Endurance Cup awards the top performers in the year’s four long-distance races at Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and the season- ending Petit Le Mans round.
Coming into Saturday’s finale, Engel is one of 10 GTD drivers with at least a mathematical chance to win the Endurance Cup title. Engel is two points behind the three Endurance Cup GTD driver championship leaders, 28 – 26, with six other drivers just ahead of him with 27 points.
Endurance Cup points will be awarded at the finish of Petit Le Mans and at the end of the race’s fourth and eighth hours.
The other Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer contender at Petit Le Mans is the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. Season-long teammates Michael de Quesada and Daniel Morad will be joined at Petit Le Mans by Mercedes-AMG Motorsport driver Daniel Juncadella, who also makes his Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta debut.
Alegra’s best finishes in seven GTD starts this year are a pair of fifth place showings in the mid-season summer stretch of back-to-back races at The Glen in late June and early July.
Three Mercedes-AMG GT4 teams compete in the Grand Sport (GS) class in Friday’s two-hour Pilot Challenge race, including a 2021 race winner and a new team coming to Road Atlanta following a season-best race result.
Eric Foss co-drives the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 for the second-straight race with Kenny Murillo, the son of team owner and former champion driver Ken Murillo. The younger Murillo fills in for long time Foss teammate, Jeff Mosing, who broke his foot in a non-racing incident in September.
Earlier this season, Foss and Mosing co-drove the No. 56 Mercedes-AMG GT4 to their first career GS win at Lime Rock Park.
Foss and Murillo compete alongside the sister, No. 65 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4, which is co-driven by Brent Mosing and Tim Probert.
A strong in-season addition to the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer ranks in Pilot Challenge is the No. 18 CB Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 team with co-drivers Mark Kwamme and Trenton Estep. Kwamme, Estep and the No. 18 CB Motorsports team broke through for their first top-five finish in just their third GS-class start one race ago at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR).
Official on-track action at Petit Le Mans begins Thursday with practice for all divisions, including a 90-minute night session for IMSA WeatherTech Championship competitors at 6:30 p.m. EST. Michelin Pilot Challenge GS qualifying takes place Thursday at 4:15 p.m. EST.
Friday’s featured race, the two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge finale, goes green at 1:10 p.m. EST and is followed by WeatherTech Championship GTD qualifying at 3:45 p.m. EST.
Motul Petit Le Mans race day begins Saturday with a final IMSA WeatherTech Championship warmup session at 9:15 a.m. EST before the official start of the 10-hour race at 12:10 p.m. EST.
Maro Engel, Driver – No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I am definitely really excited to team up with Winward Racing again. The Daytona success was amazing, and I know we have a really strong team and strong driver lineup, so it is good to go back racing with these guys in the Mercedes-AMG GT3. We will have to wait and see what the competition has, but certainly we aim to try and show well and race for the podium, race for the win. It will be my first time at Road Atlanta, but I have heard so much about it. I have driven it on the simulator, and it really does seem amazing, probably one of the greatest tracks in the country, if not the world. I’m looking forward to my first time there, and hopefully we can have a really strong showing.”
Eric Foss, Driver – No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “Road Atlanta is my home track. I instructed there for about 10 years, have done a lot of laps there and just love racing there. The BOP (Balance of Performance) has come around a little bit for us with the Mercedes-AMG GT4 late this year, so I feel like we are competitive. Having Kenny Murillo start for the second-straight race will be great. He has been really strong in the car and had an awesome start in our first race together at VIRginia International Raceway. It’s unfortunate Jeff Mosing won’t be able to make it to Road Atlanta, but he will be there in spirit. We are just going to go out and try and execute. We had a couple rough races at the start of the year where we got taken out, so that put us back in the points. We were really looking forward to getting up there toward the championship this year, but really we are now just going to keep focusing on the potential for next year and try to close out this season with a great finish.”
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