The Mercedes-AMG GT3 completed its first full season in competition with success: in 2016, the international Customer Sports and Performance Teams scored a total of 18 overall wins and another 32 podium finishes with the car from Affalterbach – including the historic quadruple success in the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen. During its end-of-season party, Mercedes-AMG awarded the best drivers and teams from the brand’s internal AMG Customer Sports Championship.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 already showed a great performance in the season opener. After victory in the ADAC qualification race 24h-Rennen, the new GT3 race car went on to score the biggest success since the AMG Customer Sports programme was founded in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring at the end of May: outright win, pole position, fastest race lap and positions two, three, four and six feature in the motorsport history books. The clean sweep of the podium in the world’s biggest car race saw AMG-Team BLACK FALCON (p1), AMG-Team HTP Motorsport (p2) and the HARIBO Racing Team-AMG (p3) share the honors.
The debut of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 followed after an intense test and development phase, thanks to which the ‘newcomer’ proved to be competitive right away in further events and series as well. Another proof is the title win in the Blancpain GT Series: after a thrilling finale, Dominik Baumann (AUT) and Maximilian Buhk (GER) secured themselves the drivers’ title in the hotly-contested GT3 race series. The AMG-Team HTP Motorsport crowned the performance by winning the teams’ title. The SLS AMG GT3 showed that it is also still competitive with the drivers’ and teams’ title in the Creventic 24H Series by AMG Customer Sports Team Hofor Racing.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was able to score further overall wins around the globe: in the Australian GT, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 claimed its maiden race win in March 2016 and went on to score another four outright victories. Three victories in the Blancpain Sprint Series, one first place in the Blancpain Endurance Series and another pair of wins in the Blancpain GT Sports Club are also on the achievements list. In the German ADAC GT Masters series, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 won two races and there was one victory in the Japanese Super GT Series. The VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft at the Nürburgring brought two overall wins to celebrate. There was also a podium finish in the 24-hour race at Spa, where the Mercedes-AMG GT3 came second overall. At Spa, the car designs by Californian rock band, Linkin Park, also caught the attention.
Expansion of the Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports programme
With almost 70 Mercedes-AMG GT3 delivered, expectations for the debut season were clearly exceeded. Customer teams and drivers appreciate the high safety level and the further development based on the experience from the SLS AMG GT3, aimed at longer service intervals, handling and, of course, performance. Strengthened by the successful debut season of the Mercedes-AMG GT3, the continuing great demand and the increasing popularity of GT racing, Mercedes-AMG confirmed the development of a GT4 race car. It is the goal to address an even larger target group of amateur and professional drivers and teams.
Moreover, Mercedes-AMG is envisaging another milestone in the expansion of its Customer Sports programme and will be entering the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Pirelli World Challenge, the two leading North American sports car series, from 2017. At the same time, the support in the US will be extended with a dedicated technical and logistics centre in Mooresville, North Carolina, to ensure fast and reliable service and supply for the AMG Customer Sport Teams in North America.
During the 2017 season, Mercedes-AMG will again be participating in various motorsport highlights all over the world: in January already, two 24-hour races are scheduled with the events in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and Daytona (USA). The twelve-hour races of Bathurst (Australia) and Sebring (USA) are to follow in February and March, with the German season highlight, the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, on the calendar for the end of May, followed by the Ardennes classic at Spa (Belgium) in July. With additional participations in national and international race series, among others in the newly-introduced Blancpain GT Series Asia, Mercedes-AMG will again be competing all over the world in 2017.
A festive end-of-season party 2016
At the occasion of the Mercedes-AMG end-of-season party that took place on 3 December, teams and drivers looked back upon the GT3 motor racing season once again. During the event, the winners of the 2016 AMG Customer Sports Championship* were honoured as well: Kenneth Heyer (GER) scored the most points in the PRO DRIVER standings from Christiaan Frankenhout (NED) and Morgan Moullin Traffort (FRA) in second and third place respectively. Top honours in the DRIVER class go to Frenchman Jean-Luc Beaubelique from Chantal and Michael Kroll (both SUI). The new TEAM champion is the AKKA ASP TEAM from France, with HTP Motorsport (GER) and BLACK FALCON (GER) following in second and third place.
Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Management Board of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: “The GT3 motorsport year 2016 was a big success story for Mercedes-AMG. Our expectations in the debut season of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 were exceeded in every aspect, both in sales figures and with the sensational achievements in racing. For us, Customer Sports ranks very highly: next to Formula 1 and the DTM, it is one of the three pillars of Mercedes-AMG’s involvement in motorsport. Therefore, and because of the globally increasing interest and popularity of the GT segment, we will continuously expand our Customer Sports activities. With the new presence in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the US, the development of the GT4 race car and the festivities for the 50th anniversary of Mercedes-AMG, there will be many highlights in 2017 as well.”
Jochen Bitzer, head of AMG Customer Sports: “ The impressive achievements in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring or the drivers’ and teams’ titles in the Blancpain GT Series show that the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is another considerable step ahead in terms of precision and performance compared to its predecessor, the SLS AMG GT3. Nevertheless, the gullwing is anything but an oldie yet: the SLS AMG GT3 is still competitive and racked up numerous victories in international races, including the 24H Series drivers’ and teams’ titles with AMG Customer Sports Team Hofor Racing. My thanks go out to all the drivers, teams and employees who have turned the 2016 season into a very special year of success with their effort, their ambition and their passion.”
Facts and figures of the 2016 season:
- Mercedes-AMG GT3: 115 races. 152 top 10 results. 50 podium finishes, including 18 overall wins.
- SLS AMG GT3: 146 races. 102 top 10 results. 34 podium finishes, including 13 overall wins.
- 51 teams and 201 drivers raced in GT3 competition with a Mercedes-AMG.
- At ‘working temperature’ after 3,375 kilometres: during the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, the winning car (Mercedes-AMG GT3 #4 / AMG-Team BLACK FALCON) posted the fastest race lap time (8m19.002s) on the penultimate lap (lap 133).
- Around the world in 24 hours: during the 24-hour race at Spa, all eight Mercedes-AMG GT3 together racked up 29,319 kilometres. That equals once around the world at the latitude of Frankfurt (approx. 25,770 km).
- 29 switches and buttons have been built into the Mercedes-AMG GT3, nine of them on the steering wheel. The shift pedals are used most frequently, followed by the high beam flash.
- Jet setters: The Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the SLS AMG GT3 raced in 23 countries at 51 race tracks.