With two three-hour qualification races, the dress rehearsal for the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring took place this weekend. In the Sunday race, the #3 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed entry with Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Maximilian Götz (GER) and Fabian Schiller (GER) brought home a long-awaited victory following a strong recovery drive. On the previous day, Maro Engel (GER), Jules Gounon (FRA) and Daniel Juncadella (ESP) had already scored a podium result with the #4 sister car. In the upcoming 50th running of the 24-hour race, Mercedes-AMG Teams Bilstein, GetSpeed and Landgraf as well as CP Racing and Schnitzelalm Racing are in the field with a first-class driver line-up and a total of seven Mercedes-AMG GT3s.
Three weeks prior to the 50th running of the legendary 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, the traditional qualifying event took place this weekend. At the occasion of the anniversary, the 24h Nürburgring Qualifiers were held with a new format for the first time this year: in two qualification races of three hours each, the goal for the five Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams was to secure a good position for the Top 30 qualfiying of the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring.
Moreover, the 24h Qualifiers served as a final assessment for all participants prior to the season highlight at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. To this end, the schedule for the past three days included a total of eleven hours of racing at the track with its long tradition. The Mercedes-AMG customer sport teams also rehearsed relevant procedures once again this weekend and used the final opportunity to set up their cars in the best possible way for the 24-hour race at the end of May.
Race 2: Early pit stop enables Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed to claim victory
After a top qualifying on Sunday morning that wasn’t ideal, Fabian Schiller started the second three-hour race from twelfth place with the best-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3, the #3 Mercedes-AMG Teams GetSpeed car. With the #4 sister car, Maro Engel even started the Sunday race from last place in the SP9 class.
Given these starting grid positions, Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed opted for an early pit stop: both cars were called in simultaneously after 45 minutes to be able to make up ground with fresh tyres. This strategy was to pay off. As the front-running group lost time due to duels at this stage of the race and some of the rivalling cars incurred damage, Adam Christodoulou (#3) and Daniel Juncadella (#4) surprisingly moved up into the lead following the pit stop phase.
In an action-packed final part of the race, the team then experienced an emotional roller-coaster: first of all, Jules Gounon had to park his #4 Mercedes-AMG GT4 due to damage while on course for a podium finish. Meanwhile, Maximilian Götz with the #3 car brought his position home in a commanding way and rewared himself and his Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed with victory in the dress rehearsal for the 24-hour race.
The #34 Schnitzelalm Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished tenth after three thrilling hours in the Green Hell. As a result, Marek Böckmann, Kenneth Heyer (both GER), Yannick Mettler (SUI) and Johannes Stengel (GER), who will also be taking on the event at the end of May in this combination, ended up in second place of the Pro-Am classification at the same time.
Race 1: #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 secures podium finish in Saturday race
Repeated rain showers marked the first race of the weekend on Saturday evening. Nevertheless, the six Mercedes-AMG GT3s coped well with these inconsistent weather conditions in the Eifel and continuously worked their way up through the ranks in the course of the three-hour race. Having started from sixth place on the grid with the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed car, Maro Engel, Daniel Juncadella and Jules Gounon, finished the race in third position.
In the Pro-Am category, meanwhile, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams achieved a considerable double podium finish. Julien Apotheloz (SUI), Patrick Assenheimer (GER), Dominik Baumann (AUT) and Luca-Sandro Trefz (GER) drove the #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf to second place in class, Schnitzelalm Racing finished third.
The preparation weekend started with a moment of shock on Friday. Following an accident, the Mercedes-AMG Teams Bilstein entry with starting number 12 was no longer able to participate in the competition. Driver Manuel Metzger was taken to hospital for safety reasons and for further treatment. Given the circumstances, he is doing well.
Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing is aiming high for the 24-hour race
For Mercedes-AMG, the 24-hour race in three weeks’ time is not just of particular significance because of the anniversary edition. In 2022, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach is celebrating its 55th anniversary itself and is aiming at the overall win in the prestigious endurance racing event. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the five customer sport teams come up with a high-class driver line-up. Compared to the previous years, the combinations have been newly allocated. Three of the five Mercedes-AMG Teams are competing with three rather than with four drivers like in the past.
Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed will be taking on the competition twice around the clock with two Mercedes-AMG GT3s in BWT livery. In the process, the cars with starting numbers 3 and 4 will have the same driver combinations as this weekend. The #6 Mercedes-AMG Team Bilstein entry will have Nico Bastian (GER), Philip Ellis (SUI) and Hubert Haupt (GER) as its drivers. Raffaele Marciello (SUI) and Luca Stolz (GER) will be in the team’s second car with starting number 12. Who can replace Manuel Metzger in three weeks hasn’t been decided yet. The #55 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf will be taking on the 24-hour race with Julien Apotheloz, Patrick Assenheimer, Dominik Baumann and Luca-Sandro Trefz.
Schnitzelalm Racing (#34) with Marek Böckmann, Kenneth Heyer, Yannick Mettler and Johannes Stengel will be competing in the SP9 class for the first time. Experienced Americans Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub and Shane Lewis, who raced the #21 CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 during the Qualifiers, will be getting further support from Joe Foster (all USA) during the 24h race at the end of May.
Mercedes-AMG Fan Base presents a comprehensive programme for the return of the spectators
Another highlight for this year’s running of the 24h race at the Nürburgring is the return of the spectators along the entire circuit as well as in the paddock. After an enforced two-year break, the fans along the Nordschleife will create the atmosophere again that is making this event so special and unique in the world. The well-known Mercedes-AMG Fan Base in the paddock will be opening its doors for the motorsport enthusiasts again. An entertainment programme, the traditional autograph session with all the drivers of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams and an exclusive car display will leave nothing to be desired among the visitors.
Christoph Sagemüller, head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsport: “For us as a brand, the 50th running of the 24-hour race is all about AMG’s 55th anniversary. At the occasion of this anniversary, our fans can look forward to a great programme away from the track as well. In our Fan Base, there are some things to experience including a display of unique cars from our portfolio, some of them being shown in public for the first time. In sporting terms, we want to repeat our victory from Sunday in this prestigious race, of course. However, the result becomes less significant when it is about health. I am really relieved that Manuel Metzger is doing well, given the circumstances, after his accident. The entire AMG team wishes him a good and speedy recovery.”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “First of all, I wish Manuel a speedy recovery and I hope he will be able to get back in the car really soon. Of course, victory in the Sunday race here is fantastic. That is a huge load coming off our shoulders. Nevertheless, we know that we didn’t have the fastest car, but that this victory is the result of a perfect strategy, clever decisions and a balanced driver performance. We still have some work to do and have to use the next three weeks for preparation, but we are optimistic going into the 24-hour race.”
Maro Engel, driver, Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed #3: “This weekend already was the right way to get in the mood for the 24h race with the various highs and lows that the Nürburgring has in store. Of course, we are happy with the result on Saturday. The cooperation with Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed is working really well and the team is highly motivated. Two, three minor things weren’t one hundred percent right yet, but that is what the two qualification races are there for anyway.”
Maximilian Götz, driver, Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed #4: “We wanted to exhaust procedures, get to the limit, and whenever something goes wrong in the process, like with the pit stop in race one, that is part of the deal. With victory on Sunday, it went all the better. My teammates Adam Christodoulou and Fabian Schiller did a super job and together, we have achieved a result that is making us confident for the 24-hour race. After my pair of third places in the past years, I would be happy to repeat today’s victory in the anniversary edition. Moreover, I am massively looking forward to seeing the countless fans along the track while driving, to sense the barbecue smells, that is unique.”
Patrick Assenheimer, driver, Mercedes-AMG Team Landgraf #55: “We had good test days and a good race on Saturday as well. It was important that Julien Apotheloz would be getting a lot of track time during his first GT3 weekend. The team has done a super job during the stops, but generally, too. Therefore, I am confident that we will be able to attack during the 24-hour race.”
Hubert Haupt, driver, Mercedes-AMG Team Bilstein #6: “All in all, we are well prepared. On Friday, it was extremely unfortunate with Manuel’s accident, of course. We hope that he will be getting better soon. As a result, we were only able to participate with one car. Nevertheless, we feel that we are sorted well for the 24-hour race. We simply still are just a little bit too slow.”
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