Monza (I) / Nürburgring (GER) - Together with the Belgians Anthony Kumpen und Koen Wauters, the AMG brand ambassador and former Formula One driver Karl Wendlinger claimed the third place with the SLS AMG GT3 of the customer team KRK Racing in the first race of the season of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
The three-hour race in the Royal Park in Monza had to be started behind the Safety Car because of heavy rain falls. The Belgian-Austrian team had finished the qualifying in the eighth position but was able to quickly establish itself among the top drivers when the race, which had an extraordinarily high number of participants with 56 cars in starting positions, was started after 30 minutes. With weather conditions remaining wet, start driver Wendlinger was the first to catch up in the positioning, then Wauters and, in the last stint Kumpen, followed him. A good 20 minutes before the end of the race they finally managed to claim the third position with which they crossed the finish line unendangeredly. The time discrepancy to the winner was 20.9 seconds, while the time discrepancy to the second podium place was only 3.3 seconds.
The second SLS AMG GT3 of KRK Racing, which was driven by Raf Vanthoor, Marius Ritskes and Dennis Retera finished the endurance race on the Italian Grand Prix track in the 27th position. The British Customer Sports Team Preci-Spark with the twins David and Godfrey Jones as drivers showed a remarkable race to catch up from the 49th starting position to the 30st position. The two SLS AMG GT3s of Black Falcon from Meuspath in the Eifel (Germany) crossed the finish line scoring the 43rd and 44th position. Ricardo Brutschin, Oliver Morley und Jérôme Thiry continued to have the upper hand in the race over their team colleagues Bret Curtis, Sean Edwards and Steve Jans.
Karl Wendlinger, driver of KRK Racing: "This race was not an easy one! The track and the visibility conditions provided us serious difficulties. However, even under those conditions, the SLS AMG GT3 was a harmonically balanced and fast race car which did not cause us any problems. The fight for the lead was hard but exciting. We did not make any mistake and thus completely deserve the third position."
Raf Vanthoor, team manager of KRK Racing: "Finishing third in this highly competitive race and in face of the difficult conditions on the track, we have definitely had a good start in this year's Blancpain Endurance Championship. We managed to prove the potential of the SLS AMG GT3 as the car showed an excellent performance. We can now build up on the results and are looking forward to the next race."
Second race of the VLN Endurance Race Championship at the Nürburgring
The second race of this year's Nürburgring Endurance Race Championship has also been marked by changing weather conditions. Only towards the half of the 4-hour race on the legendary Nordschleife ("north loop") were the conditions on the track continuously dry before it continued to rain a quarter of an hour before the finish and the race had to be ended ahead of schedule as it had previously happened in the first race of the season.
Due to the difficult weather conditions, the AMG Customer Sports Teams were already caught on the wrong foot in the qualifying, when rainfalls prevented them from driving fast lap times. Thanks to constantly fast driving, the two SLS AMG GT3 of ROWE RACING managed to reclaim a top ten position in the race. The gullwing car of Thomas Jäger and Jan Seyffarth starting in the 20st position crossed the finish line claiming the seventh position while their sister car with Roland Rehfeld / Marko Hartung / Alexander Roloff managed to finish eighth from starting position 19. The SLS AMG GT3 of Hankook-Team HEICO Motorsport of Bernd Schneider / Pierre Kaffer / Kenneth Heyer / Alexandros Margaritis had to make two unscheduled pit stops because of a tyre failure and a consequential damage resulting from it and were thus severely thrown back. The quartet ended the race on position 57.