PORTLAND, Oregon - Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing team Murillo Racing scored its fifth victory of the 2019 Pirelli GT4 America season Saturday at Portland International Raceway. Christian Szymczak and Kenny Murillo co-drove the No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 to their second-straight Pirelli GT4 America SprintX victory after first winning as a duo last month at Sonoma Raceway.
Saturday’s victory, the fifth for Murillo Racing in the last four Pirelli GT4 America race weekends, marks another strong 2019 performance for the California-based team and the Mercedes-AMG GT4. Szymczak started the race after winning the SprintX pole position earlier on Saturday morning, handing the No. 34 off to Murillo halfway through that afternoon’s 60-minute race.
After a well-executed pit stop by the No. 34 crew, Murillo returned to the race in third place. He was soon up to second and pulled off what would be the race-winning pass in traffic with 22 minutes to go.
Splitting a lapped car with the race leader exiting the Portland circuit’s front-straight chicane, Murillo maintained enough momentum on the inside line to take the lead. He stayed up front for the rest of the race, crossing the finish line with a 2.142 second margin of victory.
Portland and Sonoma were the debut weekends of GT4 competition for Murillo, the son of Murillo Racing team owner Ken Murillo, and the 22-year-old came home a race winner in both events.
Saturday’s Portland win and last month’s Sonoma victory for Szymczak and Murillo follow a Pirelli GT4 America SprintX win by Szymczak and Matt Fassnacht in May at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP). In April, Fassnacht scored Murillo Racing’s first two race wins of the year with a sweep of the weekend’s single-driver Sprint races at VIRginia International Raceway.
The Portland weekend marked the 2019 Pirelli GT4 America debut of the No. 592 Ramsey Racing/EXR Team by Premat Mercedes-AMG GT4. Co-drivers Mark Ramsey and Alexandre Premat rebounded from a challenging race finish several laps down on Saturday to take the checkered flag just one lap behind the winners in Sunday’s second and final race.
Murillo and Szymczak rebounded from some early-race issues Sunday to finish sixth in the No. 34 Mercedes-AMG GT4. Closing driver Szymczak made up several positions in the closing minutes and set the race’s fastest lap in the charge through the field.
Next up for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams in Pirelli GT4 America is the Labor Day Weekend event at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York, August 30 – September 1.
Kenny Murillo, Driver – No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “The Saturday race was different from anything I’ve ever driven. It was a lot of fun and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 was great. The Murillo guys did such an amazing job with this car. We were actually in no-conserve mode, just trying to get around people as fast as we could so I could build a little bit of a gap and then maybe save some tires. There was some really fast guys out there, so I knew I needed some tire for them. I was just trying to manage traffic and saw the chance to take the lead coming from a mile away. I tried to back off the corner, I knew the inside was going to be the right lane, and just managed the oversteer and drag raced to the next corner. We’re really happy.”
Christian Szymczak, Driver – No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “I messed up at the start of Saturday’s race and quickly found myself second, then third and fourth. I was really worried that we were in a bad spot when I gave the car to Kenny. He did a phenomenal job so congrats to him and the whole team. I tried to lose the race, but he had other plans! It was awesome.”