Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Secure Three Race Wins and Five Additional Podium Finishes in SRO Motorsports Group America’s Return to Racing at VIR
– DANVILLE, Virginia
No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 co-drivers George Kurtz and Colin Braun secured their first GT World Challenge America Presented by AWS race win Sunday at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), capping off a successful race weekend. The breakout victory highlighted a competitive showing by Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams in SRO Motorsports Group America's return to racing after a more than four-month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With competitors in both GT World Challenge America and the Pirelli GT4 America series, the victory by the No. 04 DXDT team and drivers anchored a weekend tally of eight total podium finishes by Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams, including three race wins.
Braun started Sunday's 90-minute race on the outside front row and kept the No. 04 in touch with the leader in second place throughout his race- opening stint. Kurtz took over from Braun just past the halfway point and returned to the race in first place after a quick pit stop by the DXDT Racing crew.
Kurtz built a nearly 10 second lead on the field only to see the gap disappear when a yellow flag was shown 15 minutes from the finish. The race restarted with 10 minutes to go, and Kurtz kept the field at bay, taking the checkered flag with a 0.226 of a second margin of victory.
In addition to being the first win in top-tier GT World Challenge competition for Kurtz and Braun, Sunday's victory was also the first for DXDT Racing in GT World Challenge competition.
The weekend's other victories were first-time and back-to-back Pirelli GT4 America SprintX Am-class race wins by John Allen and Kris Wilson in their Mercedes-AMG GT4 debut.
In Friday's first SprintX victory, Wilson took the lead early in the 60- minute race in the No. 16 Rearden Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. Allen stepped in for the run to the finish and overcame a late spin to score a dramatic last-lap victory.
Wilson took over from Allen in Saturday's SprintX race and charged to the No. 16 team's second-straight victory and a strong eighth-place overall finish.
Three-straight second-place finishes were earned by Jeff Courtney in the No. 99 RecStuff.com Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the single driver Pirelli GT4 America Sprint series. In only his second race weekend in a Mercedes- AMG GT4, Courtney led or challenged for the lead in all three races.
The additional podium results at VIR included a third place showing by co- drivers David Askew and Ryan Dalziel in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Saturday's first GT World Challenge America race.
Another debut Mercedes-AMG GT4 team and driver hit the podium at VIR. Chris Gumprecht was competing in his new No. 79 CG Racing Mercedes- AMG GT4 for the first time, and led and finished third in the Am class in Saturday's Pirelli GT4 America Sprint race.
The third Mercedes-AMG GT3 competing at VIR was the No. 33 Winward Racing entry, which Wilson and Russell Ward co-drove to a weekend-best fourth-place finish on Sunday.
Next up for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams is this weekend's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge races at Sebring International Raceway, July 16 – 18.
The GT World Challenge America and the Pirelli GT4 America series next return to action at Sonoma Raceway, August 7 – 9.
George Kurtz, Driver – No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: "Everything went right today. We put it all together. To get our first overall win and GT3 win with Colin is really special. We put our heads down and got it done. It's the best win of my career. I knew there was going to be the late full-course yellow. I radioed in, Colin and I spoke a little bit on the strategy, and we executed well. Once we got the gap again we were able to keep it. This new car is the best Mercedes-AMG I have driven. I have driven a bunch of them, and this one is fantastic. The support has been great and the evolution and enhancements to the Mercedes-AMG GT3 really work for me and Colin as well."
Colin Braun, Driver – No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: "George drove super well and has been driving well. Last year, we were really just focused on trying to build experience. Make all the laps, check all the boxes we could, but this year is our second year with the Mercedes- AMG GT3 and second year at all of these tracks. We have a little more experience and that has really helped us this year. Having the Mercedes- AMG GT3 evo car has really helped. It better fits our driving styles than the previous car. What we showed this weekend is the form we want to have all year."
Ryan Dalziel, Driver – No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: "It was really great to get back to racing. I have been working with David Askew for the last 18 months now. For a guy who is really new to racing, it has been just a massive step forward for him this weekend. Our Mercedes-AMG GT3 was obviously fast and it was really encouraging to see him race Saturday and Sunday. It was a good weekend, seeing the racing family again and just coming back to the track. This is a good track for the Mercedes-AMG GT3, and it was great to see George and Colin get the win. It was for sure a team win, the first win for DXDT Racing. We will enjoy this one collectively, come back for the next one and hopefully switch positions."
Russell Ward, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: "The guys did a great job getting the car ready. We were right there for every session. For us, it is just a bit of a learning experience, a lot of our people are new to the car, but overall, I am really proud of the team. They did an awesome job. I love driving the Mercedes-AMG GT3. It is just a complete wild animal! I am looking forward to the rest of the season but for now want to thank everyone at SRO, all the corner workers and everyone at VIR. I really think they set a precedent with how things should be run in this new environment. They were really cautious with everybody and it was good to see."
Kris Wilson, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and No. 16 Rearden Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: "John Allen has come a long way. Really, that is key and a big help. Every race he gets better and better. The team, Rearden Racing, is new to the Mercedes-AMG GT4 but they have some main guys who really know the car. It's hard jumping between two cars, but it was so much easier going from one Mercedes- AMG GT to another. No question about it. Everything was tactile. I was like, 'oh, I have been driving this car all day.' We had a pair of wins with the Mercedes-AMG GT4, and The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is a great handling car and easy on the tires."
John Allen, Driver – No. 16 Rearden Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: "This weekend's results really were not surprising. I had high expectations. In the Friday race, we even had some karma go our way. We had several races last year where karma didn't go our way, and we honestly felt we were due. Unfortunately, the lead car in class ran out of fuel on the last lap in Friday's race and I was able to get by right at the end. But we had to put ourselves in that position to be able to take advantage, and we did. I love the Mercedes-AMG GT4 so much I bought a second one! We have done a lot of testing, and even some club racing, so having the second car was absolutely the right thing to do."
Jeff Courtney, Driver – No. 99 RecStuff Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: "I think we brought a lot of excitement to VIR this weekend! All in all, we had a good Mercedes-AMG GT4 this weekend. Really competitive, and the total package – you could see by our lap times – was good. I am starting to get used to driving the car and making the adjustments during the race. I am confident we will continue to get better, but I do feel like we gave two, if not three, races away this weekend. So, frustrated a little right now but hopefully we will be in the conversation for the rest of the season."