Double Mercedes-AMG GT4 Podiums and Mercedes-AMG GT3 Pro-Am Pole Highlight Competitive Showing at Season-Opening SRO Motorsports America Weekend
A pair of Pirelli GT4 America overall podiums and a Blancpain GT World Challenge America Pro-Am class pole highlighted a competitive season-opening SRO Motorsports America weekend for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), March 1 – 3. Six total Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams were competing at COTA where two Mercedes-AMG GT4 entries stepped up to deliver the weekend’s best results.
Parker Chase and Reinhold Renger finished third overall in Saturday’s first 60-minute Pirelli GT4 America race in the No. 89 RENNtech Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4. In Sunday’s second and final 60-minute sprint, Matthew Fassnacht and Christian Szymczak in turn co-drove the No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 to a third-place overall finish.
The podium finishes also earned Fassnacht and Szymczak a GT4 Am-East championship division class win and Chase and Renger earn Pro-Am East runner-up results in both races.
The four Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams competing in the featured Blancpain GT World Challenge America races also performed well last weekend. JC Perez set the bar with a Pro-Am pole-winning effort Saturday morning and then joined co-driver Maximilian Buhk in a fourth-place Pro-Am class finish in that afternoon’s first 90-minute race.
Both Buhk and Perez led Sunday’s second and final sprint only to see a near-podium result thwarted by a late-race penalty for an on-track incident.
Two more Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams continued the podium pursuit in Sunday’s finale on the way to top-five finishes.
Both the No. 04 CrowdStrike/AWS/DXDT Mercedes-AMG GT3 of George Kurtz and Colin Braun and the No. 6 US RaceTronics Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Steven Aghakhani and co-driver Richard Antinucci raced in the Pro-Am top three late in the 90-minute race.
After Braun charged from 15th at the start to as high as sixth in the opening laps, closing driver Kurtz was running second in Pro-Am late in the race only to have contact with a slower competitor. The incident damaged the No. 04 Mercedes-AMG GT3’s radiator, dropping Kurtz to fourth at the finish. Despite the late trouble, the No. 04 was the highest-placing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Sunday’s race.
Antinucci shook off a pit-out blend line penalty early in his stint Sunday to hand off the No. 6 to Aghakhani for the final run to the finish. The 15-year-old driver nearly pulled off a podium showing in his GT3 debut before an eventual fifth-place finish.
The No. 63 USALCO/Security National Mortgage Mercedes-AMG GT3 of David Askew and Ryan Dalziel was also on pace all weekend at the COTA opener. Starting driver Askew improved several positions in the opening laps of Saturday’s first race but retired after an off-course incident in Turn 3. Askew was uninjured but the No. 63 sustained heavy damage and was sidelined for the weekend.
Next up for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams in Blancpain GT World Challenge America and Pirelli GT4 America is the April 26 – 28 race weekend at VIRginia International Raceway.
Matthew Fassnacht, Driver – No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “We really needed a start like this for the year. We’ve had a lot of bad luck and a lot of bad execution in terms of pit mistakes, so we needed a result like this. Yesterday, we had a bad result because we got hit. We got squeezed. We talked last night and kept it positive, Christian and I, and decided, ‘look, we’re just going to go have fun and get it done.’ I got in that zone, the Mercedes-AMG GT4 was fantastic, and we nailed the pit stop. That was a source of weakness we worked on in the off season. We have worked hard on the process and, for the most part, getting done with 10 seconds to spare. It’s key. You absolutely have to get that down.”
Christian Szymczak, Driver – No. 34 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “We’re super happy. I started out on the right foot. We were hoping to pick up where we left off last year with the podium in Utah. Yesterday’s race didn’t go that well, but we get to leave the weekend with something good. In the faster corners, the Mercedes-AMG GT4 is definitely competitive. We’re going to some tracks that are a little bit quicker with some faster corners and not so many slow ones. We’re hoping that will help us. We’re pretty excited.”
Parker Chase, Driver – No. 89 RENNtech Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4: “It was my first time in the Mercedes-AMG GT4, first time with Reinhold and first time with the RENNtech team. I have raced in GT4 for two-and-a-half years and the racing is always really good. It’s good to deliver two podiums, two second-place finishes, and the third overall Saturday. We had some really good battles today. Reinhold did a good job, as usual I’m sure, and I’m just happy with our performance. So far so good, and hopefully we can do some more in the Mercedes-AMG GT4.”
Reinhold Renger – No. 89 RENNtech Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4: “I know the Mercedes-AMG GT4 very well from last year in the Blancpain GT Asia championship. I am happy to be able to compete here in the United States, and the GT4 field is amazing with almost 30 cars. It’s crazy and makes it special fun. Our team did a great job. I’m very impressed with them. RENNtech is new on this scene but did a very proficient job and I hope they can continue. They are pretty new in this series, but we were very quick to find a good balance on the car. Today our big advantage with the Mercedes-AMG GT4 was that we could keep the balance from the beginning to the end. Even on my last lap, I had good performance in the car, and this is what Mercedes-AMG stands for in the end.”