After the 24-hour race is before the 24-hour race. That also applies to Mercedes-AMG. As the Customer Racing Teams left the Nürburgring, preparations got underway for the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race (25-28 July) for the majority of the Mercedes-AMG Drivers. During the official test days (2-3 July), the teams and drivers with their Mercedes-AMG GT3 prepare themselves for the GT3 endurance highlight and the (in)famous roller coaster in the Ardennes.
In total, there are ten cars from Affalterbach on the entry list of the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The goal is clear: after 2013, the year in which the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 scored the brand’s last win in the race to date, the overall win finally is to be brought back to Affalterbach. Traditionally, the race in Belgium has a high-quality entry. Next to numerous extremely strong cars of nearly all manufacturers involved in GT3 racing, the driver line-up can also be considered as a ‘who is who’ of international sports car racing. After all, valuable points for several championships are at stake in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, for instance the Blancpain GT Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge. Last year, Mercedes-AMG Motorsport claimed nearly all the championship titles and the goal for 2019 is to defend all these titles.
To achieve this, there will be four cars with extended works support in the endurance racing classic in the Ardennes with a high-class line-up of Mercedes-AMG Drivers. With Raffaele Marciello (ITA), the reigning Blancpain GT Series champion will be one of the drivers of the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP entry. He will be alternating with his Blancpain teammate Vincent Abril (MON) and Fabian Schiller (GER). With Tristan Vautier (FRA), the defending Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) champion will be racing the #44 Mercedes-AMG Team STRAKKA Racing car. The Frenchman will be supported by Gary Paffett (GBR) and Lewis Williamson (GBR). The winners of last year’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup title Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel and Luca Stolz (both GER) will also be racing together for points at Spa behind the wheel of the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON car. Another high-class driver trio with chances of victory are Lucas Auer (AUT), Maximilian Buhk and Maximilian Götz (both GER) in the Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing car with starting number 999. All four Mercedes-AMG GT3s with extended works support are also eligible to score points in the Intercontinental GT Challenge.
The six Customer Racing cars also have strong line-ups for the marathon. Among the most prominent names is Mercedes-AMG Driver Adam Christodoulou (GBR), who will be racing for the #00 Goodsmile Racing team together with Tatsuya Kataoka and Nobuteru Taniguchi (both JPN). The Japanese GT3 team is known in particular for its eye-catching car designs and very popular among the fans. Moreover, Nico Bastian (GER), the reigning Blancpain GT Series Silver Cup Champion, will be racing for the #90 AKKA ASP Team. BLACK FALCON (#6), STRAKKA Racing (#43), RAM Racing (#74) and Scuderia Villorba Corse (#133) round out the Customer Racing efforts in the Belgian Ardennes.
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “Last year, our performance in the Blancpain GT Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge really was outstanding. This year, competition isn’t easier, so from that perspective, it will be difficult to repeat the many title wins. However, we know that a good performance at Spa is an important factor for this. Here, it is not just about victory in one of the world’s most prestigious 24-hour races, but also about many points in the various championships and classes. We have an eye on both and we will be taking on the challenge with a good tactical planning for the race.