Spa-Francorchamps/Affalterbach – Four starts, four victories: the impressive track record of the SLS AMG GT3 in the 2013 motorsport season got a new highlight. After winning the GT endurance classics of Dubai/United Arab Emirates (January), Bathurst/Australia (February) and the Nürburgring/Germany (May) this year, the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race was won today. Thus, the SLS AMG GT3 managed to win the “Grand Slam” of classic GT3 endurance races. The HTP Motorsport car with starting number 84, driven by Maximilian Buhk, Maximilian Götz and Bernd Schneider (all GER) was the first to cross the finish line in the Belgian endurance racing classic with a commanding margin. The impressive success is also the 100th victory for the SLS AMG GT3 since the Customer Sports programme started in 2010. The two gullwing race cars entered by Black Falcon finished eighth and 24th. Fortec Motorsport was classified in 31st place. ROWE RACING and Preci-Spark retired due to accidents.
The HTP Motorsport SLS AMG GT3 started the race from third place. Starting driver Maximilian Götz was firmly in the top five right away. In the course of the race, the car with starting number 84 consistently featured among the front runners and took turns in the lead various times after thrilling battles. After a safety car phase with a little bit less than five hours remaining, the gullwing race car took first place and held on to it until the chequered flag was out. Moreover, Bernd Schneider set the fastest lap time in the race with 2.21.861 minutes.
Bernd Schneider, HTP Motorsport: “The fourth consecutive victory in an endurance race is an overwhelming result for me. I had never dreamed that after Dubai, Bathurst and the Nürburgring, I now also would win here at Spa-Francorchamps. Our car ran like clockwork. Both our entire team and my young team-mates Maximilian Buhk and Maximilian Götz have done a tremendous job.”
Norbert Brückner, team principal, HTP Motorsport: “I am extremely proud of the entire team, everybody involved has worked incredibly hard. Our race-gullwing was consistently fast and extremely reliable. Bernd and the two Maximilians have driven a faultless race.”
Uli Fritz, head of AMG Customer Sports: “Victory in the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race also marks the 100th race win of an SLS AMG GT3. This great success against numerous competitors is a great confirmation for our customer sports programme. Congratulations to the trio of drivers around AMG brand ambassador Bernd Schneider and all the team members of HTP Motorsport.”
Ola Källenius, head of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: “Every victory of an SLS AMG GT3 at the race tracks of this world is making us happy. The fact that this victory in the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race is also the 100th race win of an SLS AMG GT3 and the fourth consecutive win in an important endurance race, is making everybody at Mercedes-AMG particularly proud. With today’s success, the SLS AMG GT3 has won the “Grand Slam” of GT3 endurance classics. Already in 1971, we scored a surprising second place and a class win here at Spa-Francorchamps with the 300 SEL 6.8 AMG. This success was AMG’s breakthrough in motorsport. Congratulations to the entire HTP Motorsport team and my thanks also go out to everyone involved at AMG customer sports.”
Black Falcon finishes 8th and 24th
Black Falcon competed with two SLS AMG GT3s in the Pro-Am Cup. The car with starting number 18, driven by Klaas Hummel (NED), Steve Jans (LUX), Adam Christodoulou (GBR) and Thomas Jäger (GER) was classified eighth overall and fourth in its class. The car with starting number 19 and drivers Andrii Lebed (UKR), Francesco Castellacci (ITA), Sergei Afanasiev (RUS) and Andreas Simonsen (SWE) came 24th overall and eleventh in its class.
The number 62 car, entered by Fortec Motorsports (GBR) for drivers Oliver Webb, Alex Brundle (both GBR) and Karl Wendlinger (AUT) competed in the Pro Cup and crossed the finish line in 31st place. Several incidents during the race prevented a better result.
ROWE RACING (GER) was also entered in the Pro Cup with Jan Seyffarth, Lance David Arnold and Klaus Graf (all GER). The car with starting number 127 started from 21st place and gradually made its way up to third with a commanding performance. An accident on Sunday morning put an untimely end to the race.
The Preci-Spark (GBR) car with starting number 22, driven by twin brothers David and Godfrey Jones and sons Gareth and Philip Jones (all GBR) started in the Gentlemen Trophy, but had to retire following an accident in the 15th hour.
All drivers from the AMG Driver Pool in the race for AMG customer teams
For the first time, all the drivers from the AMG Driver Pool were on the grid for the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race. Next to AMG brand ambassadors Bernd Schneider (HTP Gravity Charouz) and Karl Wendlinger (Fortec Motorsports), Lance David Arnold (ROWE RACING) and AMG Customer Sports co-ordinator Thomas Jäger (Black Falcon) were also competing for the AMG customer teams.
Four out of six SLS AMG GT3 made it to the finish
Four out of the six SLS AMG GT3s that took the start also made it to the finish in the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race, once again proving the high level of reliability of the gullwing race car that already won the endurance races in Dubai/United Arab Emirates (January), Bathurst/Australia (February) and at the Nürburgring/Germany (May) this year. The race twice around the clock in the Belgian Ardennes region is the annual season highlight of the Blancpain Endurance Series. The race started in warm conditions, but rain caused many changes in the rankings after midnight. The action-packed race saw fierce position battles and numerous lead changes. Some favourites had to retire early due to technical problems. In the 65th running of the Belgian endurance racing classic, a total of 65 GT3 cars took the start in the categories Pro Cup, Pro-Am Cup and Gentlemen Trophy.
100 victories for AMG Customer Sports since 2010
The 100th race win of an SLS AMG GT3 marks another highlight in the AMG Customer Sport programme. The project, started in the autumn of 2010, has developed in a quite successful way: 67 cars were sold to date. The gullwing race car, homologated to FIA GT3 standards, is competing all over the world in more than 22 race series on five continents.