Image Credit Daimler AG Media
Affalterbach (GER). Since 1967, the heart of Mercedes-AMG has been beating at the race track. With its motorsport DNA, the performance brand from Affalterbach enthuses fans and customers all over the world. Among them are the AMG Customer Sport Teams who have been successful at international level with the SLS AMG GT3 since 2011. In the past five years, numerous titles and legendary race wins were scored with the gullwing. Simultaneously, AMG has been working on the continuous expansion of its Customer Sports program. In 2016, the arrival of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the introduction of the AMG Performance Teams marks the start of a new era for the manufacturer from Affalterbach that got off to a perfect start with the historic quadruple victory in the Nürburgring 24-hour race.
From the very beginning, AMG has focused on the requirements of ambitious race teams and drivers with its GT3 Customer Sports program. The achievements at the race track prove that the concept is right: since 2011, over 160 overall race wins and 450 podium finishes were scored with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in the most varied series and races. In 2013, AMG Customer Sports Teams achieved the ‘Grand Slam’ of GT3 endurance racing classics by winning the races at Dubai, Bathurst, the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps with the gullwing.
For AMG Customer Sports, the arrival of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 marks the start of a new era. The new Customer Sports car has everything it takes to continue the SLS AMG GT3’s success story. Based on the Mercedes-AMG GT, a completely new competition version was developed. In the process, the experience acquired with the SLS AMG GT3 provided valuable input. Thanks to an extensive test phase, in which over 30,000 kilometers of testing mileage were racked up and long runs of 30 hours were completed, teams have a fully matured car with a high level of competitiveness at their disposal from 2016. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was already able to prove this in an impressive way: in the 44th running of the ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen Nürburgring, the new race car from Affalterbach racked up the first four places and sixth position. Including this historic quadruple victory, the Mercedes-AMG already scored twelve overall race wins, twelve pole positions and 25 podium finishes from 52 races to date*. Thus, the car enjoyed an overwhelming arrival in the expanded Mercedes-AMG GT3 program.
The AMG Performance Teams in 2016
Next to the successful introduction of the Mercedes-AMG GT3, 2016 is also marked by a new concept for the team support. In the process, AMG adds a new motivation to perform even better: by excellent results and achievements, teams can underline their ambitions to qualify as AMG Performance Teams. With these teams, Mercedes-AMG is working together particularly closely and next to the proven technical support, these teams also get assistance from engineers and motorsport specialists from Affalterbach.
During the 2016 season, the following teams will be competing in races as AMG Performance Teams: AMG-Team BLACK FALCON, AMG-Team HTP Motorsport (both in VLN, the Blancpain GT Series and in the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and Spa), HARIBO Racing Team-AMG (VLN, Nürburgring 24 Hours), AMG-Team ZAKSPEED (ADAC GT Masters) and AMG-Team AKKA ASP (Spa 24 Hours). Moreover, AMG Performance Teams are also planned to compete in events like the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Image Credit Daimler AG Media
The AMG Driver-Pool for 2016
The AMG Driver-Pool includes renowned drivers with a vast motorsport experience from numerous races, from international GT3 series via DTM up to Formula 1. They provide their driving skills and their experience to support the various AMG Teams.
AMG drivers with an exclusive AMG contract for 2016 are: Nico Bastian (GER), Dominik Baumann (AUT), Maximilian Buhk (GER), Yelmer Buurman (NED), Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Maro Engel (GER), Christian Hohenadel (GER), Thomas Jäger (GER), Bernd Schneider (GER), and Jan Seyffarth (GER). From the Mercedes-AMG DTM Team, Maximilian Götz (GER), Daniel Juncadella (ESP), Gary Paffett (GBR), and Christian Vietoris (GER), plus Mercedes-AMG DTM replacement and test driver Felix Rosenqvist (SWE) will be racing. Especially for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, the AMG Performance Teams were supported by drivers like Uwe Alzen (GER), Stefan Mücke (GER), and Dirk Müller (GER). At Spa, for instance, Renger van der Zande (NED) will be racing as well.
Service, support and championship
One of the key elements of the AMG Customer Sport program is the professional support for the teams with technology, service and know-how. The AMG Customer Sports Portal serves as the most important interface for all teams running a Mercedes-AMG GT3 or a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. The internet portal provides support and the possibility to order spare parts 24 hours per day. Moreover, relevant information and updates are made available through the portal. During race meetings, the AMG Service Team is present with its own service truck at European race tracks. As an exclusive service, spare parts packages that are individually arranged can be delivered to any given race track.
The AMG Customer Sports Portal also includes a central database in which all race results of every AMG GT3 car have been listed. Since 2015, the system also has provided access to the AMG Customer Sports Championship. Participation in this global competition is open for all teams and drivers running or racing a Mercedes-AMG GT3 or an SLS AMG GT3 in competition, be it as a Pro Driver, as a Driver or as a Team. AMG brand ambassadors and drivers from the AMG Driver Pool are not eligible to take part.
Brand experience and interaction with fans
Next to the sporting aspects, the brand experience is also one of the major goals for Mercedes-AMG. As a result, fans of the performance brand from Affalterbach can experience the extended AMG involvement in an even more impressive way in 2016. The visitors of the Nürburgring 24-hour race could already see for themselves in the paddock, where an AMG Fan Base in the paddock with a size of 1,500 square meters thrilled the fans and sparked brand fascination. Next to production and competition cars on display, ranging from GT3 via DTM to Formula 1, the freely accessible experience world also served as the venue for numerous fan activities like a pit stop competition with a Mercedes-AMG GT3, autograph sessions, interviews, and a huge Race Party.
Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Management Board of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, about the AMG Customer Sports program
Which status does AMG Customer Sports have for the AMG brand?
Tobias Moers: “GT3 racing is a very crucial element of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. The achievements by the AMG Customer Sport Teams reflect strongly on the brand. GT racing is very popular, there are many attractive races and legendary race tracks, such as the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, Spa-Francorchamps or Bathurst in Australia. This is where the heart of motorsport is beating. We, as the AMG brand, have an according presence during such races to provide the fans at the track an unforgettable brand experience.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>
What does the AMG Customer Sports moniker stand for?
Tobias Moers: “With the Customer Sports program, it has been our intention from the very beginning to establish a program that puts the focus on the passion for motorsport and on the customers. To this end, we had to develop an extraordinary race car within very short time. As the worldwide achievements, not in the least also in countries like Australia and Japan, clearly show, we have achieved this with the SLS AMG GT3. With the competition version of the gullwing, we have been able to create a legend that is still very successful in racing.”
Along with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, the AMG Performance Teams were introduced as well. Isn’t that a contradiction with the focus on the customers?
Tobias Moers: “No, by no means. All the teams will continue to get the proven, comprehensive technical and spare part service as well as the support by AMG, irrespective of whether they are racing the SLS AMG GT3 or the Mercedes-AMG GT3. For certain events, the AMG Performance Teams will be competing as well, teams with which we are working together in a slightly more intense way. A huge commitment and a convincing concept are the requirements to be able to run as an AMG Performance Team. Basically, however, this option is open for every AMG Customer Sports Team. We remain loyal to our concept that puts the focus on the customers.”
What prompted AMG Customer Sports to make this step?
Tobias Moers: “With the SLS AMG GT3, the AMG Customer Sports Teams were very successful, often also against works-supported opponents. However, our competitors aren’t sleeping. With the AMG Performance Teams, we ensure that we will remain competitive in the future as well. We want to bring in our experience and our know-how from the DTM and also as a manufacturer in the best possible way in order to further promote GT3 racing within AMG. Everyone involved benefits from that.”
What can we look forward to for the future?
Tobias Moers: “In its first races, the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 has already proven in an impressive way which potential it contains. The quadruple victory in the Nürburgring 24-hour race, but also the further wins achieved in Australia, in Japan, Great Britan and France show that our efforts are fruitful. Of course, we will by no means rest on these laurels, we will continuously build on them. That also includes a future involvement in the United States where we are in contact with potential teams.”
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 pairs high-class motor racing technology with a spectacular design. The car, developed to FIA GT3 regulations, is based on the Mercedes-AMG GT that already provides a high level of race track performance in its production version and stands out for a low centre of gravity, a perfect weight distribution and a large track width.
Like with the road-going version, the vehicle structure of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 consists of a very light-weight, yet extremely rigid aluminum space frame. Numerous components like the bonnet, the doors or the rear wing were made of carbon. The consequent implementation of the ‘AMG Lightweight Performance’ strategy results into significantly increased efficiency and the best possible dynamics.
As it already was the case with the SLS AMG GT3, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 also incorporates the currently widest ranging safety concept in its class, partly even exceeding the latest FIA standards. Three safety zones were constructed around the driver: the rigid aluminum space frame provides excellent protection. Additionally, the stable carbon safety cell with integrated headrest and a roll-cage made of high-strength steel also protect the driver. In case of an accident, the driver can also be extricated through the integrated hatch in the roof.
The AMG 6.3 liter V8 engine, proven in the SLS AMG GT3 and additionally optimized, generates the power. The high-revving atmospheric engine stands out for its user-friendly technology, huge reliability, long service intervals and low running costs. Like in the production version, the sequential six-speed competition gearbox in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is mounted to the rear axle in transaxle construction and thus allows for optimum weight distribution. Another thing the two have in common are the double wishbones, almost entirely made of aluminum.
The development of the Mercedes-AMG GT3
In the development of the Mercedes-AMG GT3, the insights from the races run with the SLS AMG GT3 are unmistakable. During the intense test phase, AMG brand ambassador Bernd Schneider and the AMG test and development drivers Thomas Jäger and Jan Seyffarth have made a significant contribution to the circuit characteristics of the car.
Handling was one of the key elements in the development: the Mercedes-AMG GT3 crowns the very good handling already known from the SLS AMG GT3 with enhanced agility and efficiency. The development engineers also focused on optimizing the service intervals and the durability. To achieve this, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 completed, among others, a 30-hours endurance test at race speed. This results into considerable reduced running costs for the AMG Customer Sports Teams. The fourth round of the 2015 VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft was the first test for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in racing conditions. Driven by Bernd Schneider, Thomas Jäger, and Jan Seyffarth, the car claimed pole position and posted the second-fastest race lap straight away.
Bernd Schneider, AMG brand ambassador, about the Mercedes-AMG GT3
You were already involved in the development of the SLS AMG GT3 and now also of the Mercedes-AMG GT3. What, according to you, are the major differences?
Bernd Schneider: “With the SLS AMG GT3, we basically had to start from scratch. In 2007, the first considerations were made at AMG to develop a car as a solo effort, the SLS AMG. At an early stage, it already became clear that this car was also meant as a customer sports car for the race track. In the process, we tested many things until we were able to complete our first laps of testing with the SLS AMG GT3 in 2010. With the Mercedes-AMG GT3, on the other hand, we were able to build on five successful years of customer sports activities. Accordingly, from the very beginning, we had a clear view of what we wanted and how we could achieve it. Nevertheless, like with the SLS AMG GT3, we took the time to ensure that we could present a perfect package.”
Which are typical characteristics of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3?
Bernd Schneider: “The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is bringing characteristics to the race track that are typical for AMG: driving performance from A to Z. The car leaves no doubt that it aims for maximum sporting performance, already in its production version. As a racing driver, I am particularly impressed by how light and exact the handling of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is. Combined with the high level of safety and the durability, the car is perfect for all customer sports target groups.”
Which are the main improvements compared to the SLS AMG GT3?
Bernd Schneider: “In many areas, we have been able to improve the performance even further. That applies to the agility I have already mentioned: the car simply gives a much more direct and precise feeling. Moreover, it allows for quicker gear changes. For the benefit of our AMG Customer Sports Teams, we have done our best to implement particularly user-friendly solutions, ranging from an enhanced overall efficiency via longer intervals between engine rebuilds up to optimized repair solutions.”
Jochen Bitzer, head of AMG Customer Sports, about the 2016 season
The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 is in its first full season. What goals have you set yourself at the start of this year?
Jochen Bitzer: “Basically, we have already exceeded them. Already now, the quadruple victory in the Nürburgring 24-hour race has its place in motorsport history books. Moreover, contesting a new season with a new car always is a particular challenge. We are following in the huge steps of the SLS AMG GT3 and we have some titles to defend as well. That is what we intend to build on and we also want to be among the contenders for top positions in the next major endurance racing classics at Spa-Francorchamps again.”
What, according to you, are the chances of repeating the Nürburgring victory at Spa?
Jochen Bitzer: “At Spa, we will have to deal with a fully different race than at the Nürburgring. Not only because the track is shorter, but particularly because of the field, that is much more compact and includes nearly all the European top teams and drivers from GT3 racing. Competition at Spa will be huge and over such a long distance, many things can happen, particularly because of the weather. In order to end up on the top step of the podium, drivers and teams have to do a perfect job. The strategy has to be right, but the necessary bit of luck is needed as well. Our Performance Teams are also very well prepared for Spa and we are looking forward to the new challenge.”
And are you equally happy with your driver line-up?
Jochen Bitzer: “Absolutely. We have, together with the teams, thought a lot about the driver line-ups and we have found a very good mix in the end. The spirit among the drivers is great, they live the AMG spirit, they have the necessary speed and, of course, also the experience that is required for a 24-hour race.”
Technical data Mercedes-AMG GT3
Engine 6.3 liter V8 high-revving naturally aspirated engine
Output Approx. 550 hp (404 kW), depending on air restrictor size
Gearbox Newly developed six-speed competition gearbox allowing for 10,000 km of running
Bodywork Aluminum space frame construction with optimized repair solutions Roll-cage of high-strength steel Full bodywork of carbon
Length 4,746 mm
Width 2,049 mm
Height 1,238 mm
Wheelbase 2,625 mm
Homologated weight 1,285 kg
Aerodynamics Efficient aerodynamics for reduced drag with high downforce levels
Chassis Single-wheel suspension with double wishbones front and rear
Brakes Competition brake system with adjustable ABS and traction control
Wheels 18 inch AMG forged light-alloy wheels
Brake discs front (diameter) 390 mm
Brake discs rear (diameter) 360 mm
Tires (front & rear) 12 x 18 inch 315/680 (front) 13 x 18 inch 325/705 (front)
Major achievements SLS AMG GT3: AMG Customer Sports 2011-2015
Year Series / Race Team / Drivers Result
2011 FIA GT3 European Championship HEICO MOTORSPORT Teams Champion
2011 Portuguese GT & Iberian Supercars Championship SPORTS & YOU / Miguel Barbosa, José Pedro Fontes Drivers Champion
2011 Malaysia Meredeka Endurance Race (12h) PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM / Dominic Ang, Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida 1st place
2012 Dunlop 24H DUBAI ABU DHABI BY BLACK FALCON / Khaled Al Qubaisi, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sean Edwards, Thomas Jäger 1st place
2012 FIA GT1 World Championship ALL-INKL.COM MÜNNICH MOTORSPORT / Marc Basseng, Markus Winkelhock Drivers & Teams Champion
2012 FIA GT3 European Championship HEICO-GRAVITY CHAROUZ TEAM / Dominik Baumann, Maximilian Buhk Drivers & Teams Champion
2012 ADAC GT Masters KFZTEILE24 MS RACING TEAM / Sebastian Asch, Maximilian Götz Drivers & Teams Champion
2012 Super Taikyu Series PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM / Dominic Ang, Fariqe Hairuman, Nobuteru Taniguchi Drivers & Teams Champion
2012 Brazilian GT Championship BVA RACING / Cléber Faria, Duda Rosa Drivers & Teams Champion
2012 Australian GT EREBUS MOTORSPORT Teams Champion
2012 Brazilian GT Championship SERINGAL RACING / Cléber Faria, Duda Rosa Drivers & Teams Champion
2012 Malaysia Meredeka Endurance Race (12h) PETRONAS SYNTIUM TEAM / Dominic Ang, Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanagida 1st place
2013 Dunlop 24H DUBAI ABU DHABI BY BLACK FALCON / Khaled Al Qubaisi, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sean Edwards, Bernd Schneider 1st place
2013 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour EREBUS MOTORSPORT / Bernd Schneider, Thomas Jäger, Alexander Roloff 1st place
2013 24H Barcelona HOFOR RACING / Roland Eggimann, Christian Frankenhout, Kenneth Heyer, Michael Kroll 1st place
2013 ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen Nürburgring BLACK FALCON / Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sean Edwards, Bernd Schneider, Nicki Thiim 1st place
2013 Total 24 Hours of Spa HTP MOTORSPORT / Maximilian Buhk, Maximilian Götz, Bernd Schneider 1. place
2013 Blancpain Endurance Series HTP MOTORSPORT / Maximilian Buhk Drivers Champion
2013 Race Trophy Austria PREMIUM MOTORSPORT POLAND / Piotr Krawczyk Drivers Champion
2013 Gulf 12Hours Abu Dhabi ABU DHABI BY BLACK FALCON / Jeroen Bleekemolen, Khaled Al Qubaisi, Bernd Schneider 1st place
2013 FIA GT Series (Gentlemens Trophy) HTP GRAVITY CHAROUZ / Petr Charouz, Jarek Janis, Jan Stovicek Drivers & Teams Champion
Major achievements SLS AMG GT3: AMG Customer Sports 2011-2015
Year Series / Race Team / Drivers Result
2013 FIA GT Series (PRO-AM) HTP GRAVITY CHAROUZ / Sergej Afanasiev, Andreas Simonsen Drivers & Teams Champion
2014 Hankook 12H Zandvoort CAR COLLECTION MOTORSPORT / Christian Bracke, Peter Schmidt, Mirko Schultis, Renger van der Zande 1st place
2014 Australian GT EREBUS MOTORSPORT / Richard Muscat Drivers Champion
2014 Blancpain Sprint Series HTP MOTORSPORT / Maximilian Götz Drivers Champion
2014 DMV TCC ANTEAM / Frédéric Yerly Drivers Champion
2014 FIA CEZ & ESET V4 CUP & MMCR CHAROUZ RACING SYSTEM / Jakub Knoll Drivers Champion
2014 Hankook 12H Hungary SPS AUTOMOTIVE PERFORMANCE / Lance David Arnold, Tim Müller, Valentin Pierburg 1st place
2014 Spezial Tourenwagen Trophy CAR COLLECTION MOTORSPORT / Josef Klüber Drivers Champion
2014 SUPER GT SERIES GT300 GAINER / Katsuyuki Hiranaka, Björn Wirdheim Teams Champion
2014 Macau Grand Prix MERCEDES-AMG DRIVING ACADEMY / Maro Engel, Renger van der Zande 1st place 2nd place
2015 ADAC GT Masters ZAKSPEED / Sebastian Asch, Luca Ludwig Drivers Champion
2015 Blancpain Sprint Series (PRO-AM) GT RUSSIAN TEAM/ Alexey Karachev Drivers & Teams Champion
2015 Hankook 12H Zandvoort HOFOR RACING / Roland Eggimann, Christian Frankenhout, Kenneth Heyer, Michael Kroll 1st place
2015 Hankook 24H Barcelona HP RACING / Sean Johnston, Reinhard Kofler, Hari Proczyk, Reinhold Renger, Bernd Schneider 1st place
2015 Hankook 24H Dubai BLACK FALCON / Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal, Yelmer Buurmann, Hubert Haupt, Oliver Webb 1st place
2015 Hankook 24H Paul Ricard RAM RACING / Adam Christodoulou, Thomas Jäger, Tom Onslow-Cole, Paul White 1st place
2015 Hankook 24H SERIES (A6) RAM RACING / Thomas Jäger, Tom Onslow-Cole Drivers & Teams Champion
2015 Spezial Tourenwagen Trophy (KL. 1) HIRSCH TRACKSPORT BY KORNELY MOTORSPORT / Mario Hirsch Drivers Champion
2015 Pan Delta Super Racing Festival D2 RACING SPORT / Kuo Kuo Hsin Drivers & Teams Champion
2015 Pirelli World Challenge (GTA) DRAGONSPEED / Frank Montecalvo Drivers & Teams Champion
2015 FIA GT World Cup Macau MERCEDES-AMG DRIVING ACADEMY / Maro Engel Drivers & Teams Champion
Major achievements Mercedes-AMG GT3: AMG Customer Sports 2015-2016
Year Series / Race Team / Drivers Result
10/ 2015 VLN Langstrecken-meisterschaft MERCEDES-AMG GMBH / Yelmer Buurman, Thomas Jäger, J. Seyffarth 2nd place (first podium INT)
03/ 2016 Australian GT SCOTT TAYLOR MOTORSPORT / Craig Baird 1st place (first victory INT)
04/ 2016 Super GT LEON RACING / Naoya Gamou, Haruki Kurosawa 1st place (first victory in JAP)
04/ 2016 ADAC GT Masters / Oschersleben AMG-Team HTP Motorsport / Dominik Baumann, Maximilian Buhk, Thomas Jäger, Christian Vietoris 1st place (first victory in GER)
04/ 2016 ADAC Qualifikations-rennen 24h-Rennen AMG-Team HTP Motorsport / Dominik Baumann, Maximilian Buhk, Thomas Jäger, Christian Vietoris 1st place
05/ 2016 Blancpain Sprint Series / Brands Hatch HTP Motorsport / Bernd Schneider, Jules Szymkowiak 1st place (first victory in GBR)
05/ 2016 Blancpain Endurance Series / Silverstone HTP Motorsport / Dominik Baumann, Maximilian Buhk, Jazeman Jaafar 1st place
05/ 2016 ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen Nürburgring AMG-Team BLACK FALCON / Adam Christodoulou, Maro Engel, Manuel Metzger, Bernd Schneider 1st place
05/ 2016 ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen Nürburgring AMG-Team HTP Motorsport / Christian Hohenadel, Marco Seefried, Christian Vietoris, Renger van der Zande 2nd place
05/ 2016 ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen Nürburgring HARIBO Racing Team-AMG / Uwe Alzen, Lance David Arnold, Maximilian Götz, Jan Seyffarth 3rd place
05/ 2016 ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen Nürburgring AMG-Team BLACK FALCON / Yelmer Buur-man, Hubert Haupt, Dirk Müller, Maro Engel 4th place
05/ 2016 ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen Nürburgring MANN-FILTER Team ZAKSPEED / Sebastian Asch, Kenneth Heyer, Daniel Keilwitz, Luca Ludwig 6th place
06/ 2016 GT Sports Club / Paul Ricard AKKA Motorsport / Daniele Perfetti 1st place (first victory in FRA)
Further information about AMG Customer Sports can be found at www.mercedes-amg.com/customersports
... notes from STP