by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

AMG customer sports teams successful at Sepang and Moscow: SLS AMG GT3 with a 1-2 in Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER)

For the second time, an SLS AMG GT3 wins the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER). Like in 2011, the PETRONAS Syntium Team’s gullwing with Nobuteru Taniguchi (JPN), Masataka Yanagida (JPN) and Dominic Ang (MAS) came out as the winner with a dominant performance in the twelve-hour race of Sepang / Malaysia. The sister car with Tatsuya Kataoka (JPN), Farique Hairuman (MAS) and Melvin Moh (MAS) completed the success of the Malaysian team in its home race by finishing second.

In qualifying for the 13th running of the Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race, the two SLS AMG GT3 already convinced with the second and third fastest time at the 5.543 kilometres long Sepang International Circuit. In the race, the good performance seamlessly continued: both Nobuteru Taniguchi with the number 1 gullwing and Tatsuya Kataoka with the number 28 sister car were able to defend their starting grid positions. The race turned into a high-class endurance affair with a thrilling battle for the lead in the 30-car field. On lap 90, Masataka Yanagida moved up into the lead for the first time with his SLS AMG GT3, but he lost it again during the subsequent pit stop. Back in the hunt, the two gullwing crews proved that they had strong nerves. Eventually, their stamina was rewarded at the end of the ninth racing hour: both PETRONAS Syntium cars benefited from an unscheduled pit stop of the race leader to take the lead. During the three final hours of the race, the pair of Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars continued their trouble-free ride and held on to their undisputed double race lead until the finish. After twelve hours, the double success for the PETRONAS Syntium Team was perfect: with a total of 319 laps, the crew of final driver Taniguchi claimed victory like last year. The sister car with number 28, which had finished third in 2011, came home in second place this time, two laps down.

David Wong, team principal of the PETRONAS Syntium Team: “For us as a Malaysian team, the MMER at Sepang is a kind of home race and, of course, a highlight on the racing calendar. Our consistency throughout the twelve hours’ duration was the key to today’s success. This 1-2 is a dream coming true. My thanks to the entire team that has worked so hard to achieve this.”

FIA GT3 European Championship: The HEICO Gravity Charouz team was one of the dominating teams in the fifth round of the FIA GT3 European Championship that took place at Moscow / Russia. In both qualifying sessions on Saturday, the driver pairing of Maximilian Buhk (GER) and Dominik Baumann (AUT) set the fastest time with their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. In the first race on Sunday, the German-Austrian gullwing pairing turned their pole position into a dominant race win, their fourth victory during the 2012 European Championship season. In the second race, which followed only a few hours later, heavy rain prevented a repeat of this success: in the turbulent race, Buhk / Baumann secured fifth place and scored more points in the battle for the drivers’ title. With only one round remaining (Nürburgring, September 22nd and 23rd), they are leading the European Championship standings with an advantage of 26 points. Driving the sister car of the German-Czech AMG customer team, Max Nilsson (SWE) and Mika Vähämäki (FIN) retired from the first race and weren’t classified. In the second race, they finished seventh and thus added valuable points for the teams’ standings, in which the HEICO Gravity Charouz team remains in a promising second place.

Norbert Brückner, team manager HEICO Gravity Charouz team: “The weekend here at Moscow got off to a very good start for us. In the first race, Maximilian and Dominik were able to convert their pole-position into a great victory. Too bad that it didn’t work out in the second race as well. However, our position prior to the Nürburgring finale is still very good. We are able to win the drivers’ title and with a little bit of luck, we are also able to defend our teams’ title.”

FIA GT1 World Championship: ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport has used the sixth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship to remain on course towards the title: with two rounds remaining, the AMG customer team maintains its lead in the World Championship teams’ standings with an advantage of 34 points. At the newly-opened, 3.931 kilometres long Moscow Raceway, where the GT1 World Championship and the European GT3 Championship had their races together, Marc Basseng (GER) and Markus Winkelhock (GER) scored the team’s best results: in the qualification race, the duo finished second and in the subsequent championship race, they ended up fifth in extremely challenging track conditions. With the sister car, Nicky Pastorelli (ITA) and Thomas Jäger (GER) finished fifth in the qualification race. In the championship race, they were in a promising third place until they dropped back after they innocently had become involved in a collision and eventually were classified eighth. In the drivers’ standings, Basseng / Winkelhock remain in second place, Jäger / Pastorelli are fifth.

* Official photos and details courtesy of Mercedes-AMG GmbH *

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