Start of the season for the Mercedes-AMG customer sport teams at Nogaro, France
Victory and podium places for the Mercedes-Benz
SLS AMG GT3 in the FIA GT season opener
During the traditional “Coupes des Pâques” at the Paul Armagnac circuit in Nogaro in the south-west of France, the FIA GT1 World Championship and the FIA GT3 European Championship started into the new season over the Easter weekend. In both series, customer teams were competing with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. In the championship race of the FIA GT1 World Championship, the two gullwings entered by the ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport team with Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock and Nicky Pastorelli / Thomas Jäger ended up third and fourth. In the FIA GT3 European Championship, Dominik Baumann and Maximilian Buhk won the second race of the weekend with the HEICO GRAVITY CHAROUZ TEAM’s Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. On the day before, they had already scored a podium result by finishing third.
Good team performance in the FIA GT1 World Championship’s race
With third and fourth place in the FIA GT1 World Championship’s championship race, Mercedes-Benz customer team ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport showed a good team performance. In the opening stages of the race, the two gullwings were at the front of the midfield. With fast lap times, Nicky Pastorelli and Marc Basseng were already able to make up some positions before the driver changes. After the mandatory pit stops, Markus Winkelhock, who had taken over the car previously driven by Basseng, was third. Thomas Jäger was fourth with the team’s second car, in which he had replaced Nicky Pastorelli. In these positions, the two SLS AMG GT3s crossed the finish line at the end of the one-hour race.
The qualifying race at a damp track on Sunday saw Markus Winkelhock and Marc Basseng end up sixth in their gullwing with starting number 38. Their team-mates Thomas Jager and Nicky Pastorelli crossed the finish line in seventh place in their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 with starting number 37. In the opening stages, the two Mercedes-Benz cars were in fifth and tenth place respectively. Winkelhock came into the pits for a driver change at an early stage, Marc Basseng was able to defend sixth place and bring this result home. A relatively late pit stop by Thomas Jäger allowed the second SLS AMG GT3 to move up, so that Nicky Pastorelli was able to finish seventh after an entertaining final stage of the race.
René Münnich, team principal ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport: “Scoring a podium finish in the opening round of the new FIA GT1 World is probably more than we had expected. Competition was strong, but our strategy of trying to make up ground with a late pit stop worked out very well. Our SLS AMG GT3 cars ran like clockwork and once again convinced with their immense reliability. Of course, you always need a little bit of luck, too, and that is what we had today. Thanks to the entire team for the great performance.”
Markus Winkelhock: “Our SLS AMG GT3 was quick from the very beginning and our strategy with the late pit stop turned out to be the right one, too. With third and fourth place, this was a good start of the season for our team.”
Victory in the second FIA GT3 European Championship race
With the HEICO-GRAVITY CHAROUZ TEAM’s Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Dominik Baumann and Maximilian Buhk drove victory home in the race of the FIA GT3 European Championship on Easter Monday. In the first half of the race, Baumann already showed an upward trend, which promoted him to second place. After the phase of the mandatory pit stops with driver changes, Buhk was able to take the lead and went on to drive victory home with a comfortable margin. Team-mates Max Nilsson / Mika Vähämäki crossed the finish line in fifth place.
In the first race on the day before, Buhk and Baumann had already claimed a podium position: in challenging conditions in the rainy race, the German/Austrian pairing was classified third. Max Nilsson / Mika Vähämäki finished sixth.
Maximilian Buhk: “I am delighted to have scored such top results together with my team-mate Dominik Baumann in the first races of the hotly-contested of the FIA GT3 European Championship right away. Our SLS AMG GT3 was among the top cars throughout the weekend. Of course, victory is a great motivation for the remainder of the reason. Many thanks to the entire HEICO-GRAVITY CHAROUZ TEAM!”
Brice Bosi, team manager HEICO-GRAVITY CHAROUZ TEAM: “Of course, scoring a race win in this strong field at the season opener right away, is great. All weekend here at Nogaro, we didn’t have any problems with our pair of SLS AMG GT3 cars. Now, the entire team is already looking forward to the next races. Our position couldn’t be better.”
~ Official photos and report courtesy of Mercedes-AMG GmbH ~
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