Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing celebrates most successful motorsport season to date.

Victory in FIA GT Nations Cup at Bahrain crowns most successful season for Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing. Race victories and title wins in all major GT formats. End-of-season celebration with prize-giving for the brand-internal champions. A new record donation for ‘Passion for Good’ initiative through race kilometres by the Performance Teams.

The year 2018 will go down in Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing history as the biggest and most successful season to date: over 160 Customer Racing Teams from all over the world raced the GT3 and GT4 cars from Affalterbach and scored 367 podium finishes and 138 victories from 387 races. These achievements were crowned with over 40 championship titles including the Blancpain GT Series titles for Raffaele Marciello (ITA) and the AKKA ASP Team as well as the Intercontinental GT Challenge drivers’ title for Tristan Vautier (FRA). During the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing end-of-season celebration, the brand-internal champions were crowned at the end of November: Hubert Haupt (Pro Driver), Valentin Pierburg (Driver), AKKA ASP Team (GT3 Team) and BLACK FALCON (GT4 Team).

 

The 2018 GT racing year ends like it has begun: with victory for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport. Last weekend’s FIA GT Nations Cup in Bahrain saw the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Salih Yoluc and Ayhancan Guven (both TUR) claim victory and thus came full circle after the first win of the year in January 2018 by Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA), Yelmer Buurman (NED), Hubert Haupt (GER) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) for BLACK FALCON in the 24-hour race at Dubai. These two achievements bookend a season that can hardly be exceeded in terms of highlights.

 

Octuple title success in Blancpain GT Series
This season’s outstanding achievements include the performance in the European Blancpain GT Series that produced an octuple title success for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport: Raffaele Marciello claimed the overall drivers’ title while Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER) came out on top in the Endurance Cup. The teams’ title went to the AKKA ASP team while BLACK FALCON claimed the Endurance Cup. The best Pro-AM drivers in the Endurance Cup were Lewis Williamson, Chris Buncombe and Nick Leventis (all GBR) with the STRAKKA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. In the Sprint Cup, Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows (GBR) were crowned the new champions and in the Silver Cup category, Nico Bastian (GER) and Jack Manchester (GBR) won both the overall and Sprint Cup titles. Both duos raced for the French AKKA ASP Team. With these results, the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach was by far the most successful manufacturer in the 2018 Blancpain GT Series.

 

A class of its own in endurance racing
In endurance racing, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 once again underlined its convincing performance potential in the 2018 season: in the Intercontinental GT Challenge (IGTC) that includes four major endurance races, Tristan Vautier claimed the drivers’ title in the season-ending 8-hour race at Laguna Seca Raceway. His SunEnergy1 Racing teammate Kenny Habul (AUS) secured the bronze class title. A milestone for the IGTC success was the 1-2 in the 10-hour race at Suzuka by the Performance Teams GruppeM Racing and STRAKKA Racing.

Apart from the IGTC, the cars from Affalterbach were also successful in other endurance races. In the classic event at the Nordschleife, the Nürburgring 24-hour race, BLACK FALCON shone with a double podium finish in adverse conditions: second place for Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Maro Engel, Manuel Metzger and Dirk Müller (all GER) and third place for Yelmer Buurman, Thomas Jäger, Jan Seyffarth and Luca Stolz (all GER). Next to the already mentioned victory at Dubai, BLACK FALCON also scored a 24-hour race win at Circuit of The Americas (COTA): at the track in Texas, Bret Curtis, Scott Heckert, Mike Skeen (all USA) and Yelmer Buurman emerged as the winners. In the same race, Adam Christodoulou and Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub and Joe Foster (all USA) raced the PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the 24H Series (‘Championship of the Continents’) teams’ title. Earlier, the three Americans had already sealed the European 24-hour series title in the final round at Spa-Francorchamps mid-October.

In the North-American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports managed to win the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC) for the second year in a row. In the hard-fought endurance cup of the US sports car series, Ben Keating (USA), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) and Luca Stolz also won the drivers’ title and the manufacturers’ titles for Mercedes-AMG.

 

Further worldwide GT3 achievements
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 also caught the attention in the ADAC GT Masters sprint races: at the end of a thrilling season in the super sports car league, Maximilian Götz, Markus Pommer, Maximilian Buhk (all GER) and Indy Dontje (NED) secured the teams’ title for MANN-FILTER Team HTP Motorsport. The expanded involvement of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing in Asia for 2018 also came to fruition: in the Japanese Super GT Series (GT300 class), Naoya Gamou and Haruki Kurosawa (both JPN) secured the title for the LEON RACING team. That made Mercedes-AMG the first manufacturer to win the Japanese title in two consecutive years following the success for GOODSMILE Racing in 2017. In the China GT Championship, the D2 RACING SPORT Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Kuo Kuo Hsin (CHN) dominated proceedings while Xu Wei and Han Songting (both CHN) came out on top in the China Endurance Championship. Meanwhile, down under, Max Twigg and Tony D'Alberto (both AUS) of the WM Waste Management / Scott Taylor Motorsport team were crowned the new Australian Endurance Championship winners.

 

A strong inaugural season for the Mercedes-AMG GT4
The debut season for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 also brought success. The new Customer Racing car scored numerous race wins and titles all over the world. The sporting highlights included a pair of class wins in the Nürburgring 24-hour race with BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA (SP10) and Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy (SP8T). The Selleslagh Racing Team that drove its Mercedes-AMG GT4 to victory at Zolder also has a 24-hour race win to its tally. The Belgian Customer Racing Team also added title successes in the Belcar series. In the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the team TGM’s GT4 beat the opposition with an impressive record: next to three wins and a third place, the team’s Mercedes-AMG GT4 was the only car to complete all 776 race laps that were racked up throughout the season in the US series.

 

Huge 2018 end-of-season celebration
To round out the GT year in style, numerous international teams and drivers assembled in Stuttgart at the end of November for the huge Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing end-of-season celebration. Among others, the winners of the brand-internal 2018 Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Championship were crowned during the stylish gala with around 250 guests. From the drivers, Hubert Haupt (category: Pro Driver) and Valentin Pierburg (category: Driver) managed to score the most points in the course of the season. Both winners were delighted about a new Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé (fuel consumption, combined: 10.1 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 230 g/km)1. From the teams, the AKKA ASP Team (category: GT3) that already won for the third consecutive time, and BLACK FALCON (category: GT4) collected the trophies. 

 

Customer Racing for charity
In the 2018 GT season, ‘Passion for Good’ continued as well. As a part of the charity initiative, successfully established the previous year, the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Performance Teams collected one Euro for each kilometre completed in racing as a donation for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation that is committed to help disadvantaged children and youngsters all over the world. In 2018, this resulted into an amount of 61,142 Euros, rounded up to 65,000 Euros by Mercedes-AMG. Like this, the donation from the previous year of 50,000 Euros was considerably exceeded.

 

Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: “We have experienced a great motorsport year 2018, the most successful since we became involved in customer racing. For that, I want to express my thanks to all drivers and teams of our Customer Racing Programme. In the world’s strongest GT series and races, they have shown overwhelming achievements with a lot of commitment, passion and professionalism and have scored the deserved rewards with victories and titles. Especially the performance in the Blancpain GT Series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge are outstanding achievements and also an impressive proof of the potential of our Mercedes-AMG GT3. Of course, I am also particularly delighted with the brilliant debut year of the Mercedes-AMG GT4. We didn’t promise too much as we said one year ago that this car would be capable of winning from the outset. Our expectations were exceeded by far! Next year, we will again expand our Customer Racing programme and I am already looking forward to a new, thrilling and successful 2019 season!” 

 

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “Exceeding the achievements from the previous years wasn’t easy, but we succeeded. That is the achievement of our drivers, teams and not in the least also of our many hard-working colleagues at Mercedes-AMG and HWA. To all of them, I want to express my thanks for this great season. The end-of-season celebration again made it clear how many great moments of success there were in 2018. On the way towards race wins and titles, we have also dealt with some challenges and obstacles. That is something we can be proud of and together we can look forward to the 2019 season.”

 

Remarkable facts & figures of the 2018 season:

  • In competition: in total, 361 drivers and 90 teams raced at 86 circuits worldwide with Mercedes-AMG GT3 and GT4 cars.
  • Successful debut: in 2018, there were over 375 race starts of the Mercedes-AMG GT4 that resulted into 98 (class) wins and podium finishes.
  • High mileage: in the year 2018, Mercedes-AMG Performance Teams completed a total of 61,142 kilometres in racing.
  • USA double: after 2017, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Riley Motorsport team again claimed Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup title.
  • Hat-trick: for the third time in a row, AKKA ASP Team wins the Customer Racing Championship in the TEAM and/or TEAM GT3 category.
  • Reliable: in the ADAC GT Masters, Indy Dontje and Maximilian Buhk managed to complete all 493 laps in the 14 races.
  • Titles galore: in the Blancpain GT Series, drivers and teams with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 secured eight titles in total.
  • Regular podium finishers: from eight participations in the 24H Series, Customer Racing Team PROsport Performance only once finished lower than third place (A6-Am).

GT3 achievements of the 2018 season:

Race series

Title

Class

Team

Drivers

24h Dubai

winner

overall

BLACK FALCON

Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal, Yelmer Buurman, Hubert Haupt, Gabriele Piana

24h Dubai

winner

A6-AM

SPS automotive-performance

Lance David Arnold, Dominik Baumann, Tim Müller, Valentin Pierburg

12h Silverstone

winner

A6-PRO

Rofgo Racing

Daniel Brown, Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall

12h Imola

winner

A6-AM

PROsport Performance

Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster, Charles Putman

24h Portimao

winner

A6-AM

PROsport Performance

Adam Christodoulou, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster, Charles Putman

ENEOS North Island Endurance Series

driver champion

GT-A

ITM MIKE Racing

Brendon Leitch, Christina Orr-West

6h Nürburgring (VLN)

winner

overall

BLACK FALCON

Adam Christodoulou, Hubert Haupt, Manuel Metzger, Gabriele Piana,

10h Suzuka

winner

overall

Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing

Maro Engel, Raffaele Marciello, Tristan Vautier

10h Suzuka

winner

Asia-Award

Mercedes-AMG Team GOOD SMILE

Tatsuya Kataoka, Kamui Kobayashi, Nobuteru Taniguchi

10h Suzuka

winner

Pro-AM

SunEnergy1 Racing

Mikael Grenier, Kenny Habul, Luca Stolz

10h Suzuka

winner

AM

Sato, Yamashita-SS / Rn-Sports

Norio Kubo, Atsushi Sato, Ryosei Yamashita

24h Barcelona

winner

A6-AM

PROsport Performance

Adam Christodoulou, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster, Charles Putman

Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup

driver champion

overall

AKKA ASP Team

Raffaele Marciello, Michael Meadows

Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup

driver champion

 

Silver Cup

AKKA ASP Team

Nico Bastian, Jack Manchester

ADAC GT Masters

team champion

overall

MANN-FILTER Team HTP Motorsport

Maximilian Buhk, Indy Dontje, Maximilian Götz, Markus Pommer

Blancpain GT Series

driver & team champion

overall

AKKA ASP Team

Raffaele Marciello

Blancpain GT Series

driver champion

Silver Cup

AKKA ASP Team

Nico Bastian, Jack Manchester

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup

driver & team champion

overall

Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON

Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel, Luca Stolz

Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup

driver champion

Pro-AM

STRAKKA Racing

Chris Buncombe, Nick Leventis, Lewis Williamson

DMV GTC

driver champion

Pro-AM

Spirit Racing

Dietmar Haggenmüller

Australian Endurance Championship

driver champion

overall

WM Waste Management / Scott Taylor Motorsport

Tony D'Alberto, Max Twigg

International GT Open

driver champion

Pro-AM

SPS automotive-performance

Tom Onslow-Cole, Valentin Pierburg

China GT Championship

driver champion

AM

D2 Racing Sport

Kuo Kuo Hsin

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship

driver, team & manufacturer champion

Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup

Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports

Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Luca Stolz

Intercontinental GT Challenge

driver champion

overall

SunEnergy1 Racing

Tristan Vautier

Intercontinental GT Challenge

driver champion

Bronze

SunEnergy1 Racing

Kenny Habul

8h Laguna Seca

winner

Pro-AM

STRAKKA Racing

Felipe Fraga, David Fumanelli, Nick Leventis

China Endurance Championship

driver & team champion

overall

T.K.R. Racing

Xu Wei, Han Songting

3 Ore Endurance Champions Cup

driver & team champion

GOLD

Krypton Motorsport

Stefano Pezzucchi, Marco Zanuttini

Super GT

driver & team champion

GT300

LEON RACING

Haruki Kurosawa, Naoya Gamou

24H Series - Championship of the Continents

driver & team champion

A6

PROsport Performance

Adam Christodoulou, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster, Charles Putman

24H Series - Championship of the Continents

team champion

overall

PROsport Performance

Adam Christodoulou, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster, Charles Putman

24H Series – European Championship

driver & team champion

overall & A6

PROsport Performance

Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster, Charles Putman

24h COTA

winner

overall & A6

BLACK FALCON

Yelmer Buurman, Bret Curtis, Scott Heckert, Mike Skeen

24h COTA

winner

A6-AM

PROsport Performance

Adam Christodoulou, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster, Charles Putman

FIA GT Nations Cup

winner

overall

RAM Racing
(Team Turkey)

Ayhancan Guven, Salih Yoluc

GT4 achievements of the 2018 season:

Race series

Title

Class

Team

Drivers

12h Navarra

winner

GT4

QSR Racing School

Bert Rendant, Mario Timmers, Michiel Verhaeren

ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen

winner

SP10

BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA

Carlos Gomez, Stefan Karg, Fidel Leib, Kim-Luis Schramm

ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen

winner

SP8T

Mercedes-AMG Team Driving Academy

Bernd Schneider, Jethro Bovingdon, Christian Gebhardt, Patrick Simon

24h Zolder

winner

Class 3

Selleslagh Racing Team

Jean-Luc Behets, Filip Teunkens, Nicolas Vandierendonck, Johan Vannerum, Nico Verdonck

British GT

driver champion

GT4 Pro-AM

Team Parker Racing

Nick Jones, Scott Malvern

IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge

driver & team champion

overall

Team TGM

Hugh Plumb, Owen Trinkler

24H Series - European Championship

driver & team champion

GT4

QSR Racing School

Mario Timmers, Bert Redant, Michiel Verhaeren

Blancpain GT Series Asia

driver champion

GT4

GruppeM Racing

Reinhold Renger

Belcar Endurance Series

driver & team champion

Class 3

Selleslagh Racing Team

Nicolas Vandierendonck, Johan Vannerum, Filip Teunkens

Belcar Endurance Series

driver & team champion

Belgian GT4 Endurance

Selleslagh Racing Team

Nicolas Vandierendonck, Johan Vannerum, Filip Teunkens

GT4 Belgium Cup

driver champion

GT4

Selleslagh Racing Team

Nicolas Vandierendonck

Campeonato de España de Resistencia y GT (CER-GT)

driver champion

Trofeo Juan Fernández Clase 3

SPV Racing

Christer Lindholm, Gregor Dobrowolski