The beautifully aggressive Mercedes-AMG GT3 will finally be racing in the U.S. next year! The German marque will debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with three entries – two of which will be fielded by Riley Motorsports. The eighth manufacturer to join the GT Daytona field in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Mercedes-AMG is not the only new kid on the block as Acura and Lexus debut their GT3 programs in the class as well.
Bill Riley’s race team will field the returning WeatherTech Racing team of Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette in the No. 50 WeatherTech Racing AMG GT3. The series title-sponsored team returns after a brief stint in the Pirelli World Challenge after departing due to a reported disagreement over balance of performance issues with their Porsche 911 GT3R.
Ben Keating, who’s previous purchase of a Riley Mk. XXX hinted at a Prototype entry, will continue his partnership with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Riley Motorsports. The team trades their Viper GT3-R’s growling V10 for an equally potent 6.3L naturally aspirated V8. The No. 33 Riley/Mercedes-AMG will look to better the team’s second place finish in the championship last year.
“This appears to me to be the perfect combination of one of the best GT3 cars in the world, one of the best endurance racing teams in the world and a great group of drivers,” Keating added. “This should be a very strong package for 2017. How could I not be excited?”
The third entrant comes from the newly formed SunEnergy1 Racing, headed by Kenny Habul. Habul raced in last year’s Rolex 24 in the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Audi, which was clad in the colors of his company. The Australian driver’s previous experience includes Nascar, Australian F3 and Formula Ford.
Though the AMG GT3 will race it’s first season Stateside next year, it’s already earned success worldwide including a win at the 24 Hours Nurburgring.
The GT Daytona field will take to the track next at the November Daytona test scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. A total of 10 cars are entered in the class for the test, including Habul’s AMG GT3.