Mercedes-AMG Takes IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport Manufacturer Championship Points Lead After Third Mercedes-AMG GT4 Race Win of Season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Team Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Scores First IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Victory Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

– MONTEREY, California

Co-drivers Russell Ward and Dominik Baumann drove the No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 to the team's first IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series victory Saturday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The team's breakout win capped a strong day for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams, which saw three different competitors lead the race and four Mercedes-AMG GT4 finish in the top eight. The victory, the third of the season for the Mercedes- AMG GT4, gave Mercedes-AMG possession of first place in the Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class manufacturer championship heading into next month's season finale at Road Atlanta.

Starting fifth on the grid after a season-best qualifying effort earlier on Saturday, Ward ran with the leaders from the drop of the green flag. He moved into the top three during his race-opening stint before handing the No. 33 off to Baumann just over 45 minutes into the two-hour race.

In his debut with Winward/HTP, Baumann returned to the race with the No. 33 still among the front runners. He battled for the lead throughout his stint but the key to victory came in the team's final pit stop when the Winward/HTP crew made the strategic decision to change only the rear Michelin tires.

The move saved several seconds, and Baumann returned to the race in the top three after the field cycled through its final pit stops. After another front runner pitted, Baumann zeroed in on the leader and pulled off the winning pass with eight minutes remaining on the clock. The No. 33 crossed the finish line with a 2.786 second margin of victory.

Coming into Saturday's race in a two-way tie for first, Mercedes-AMG now has sole possession of first place in the Michelin Pilot Challenge GS class manufacturer championship standings. Mercedes-AMG is three points clear of the second-place competitor, 274 – 271, with only next month's season-ending race at Road Atlanta left on the schedule.

The race-winning No. 33 led Saturday's race two different times for a total of eight laps up front, including the final six laps, and was one of three Mercedes-AMG GT4 entries to lead.

The No. 35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 of co-drivers Jim Cox and Dylan Murry led 15 laps in the final 30 minutes of the race. The team was forced to pit from the lead for a splash of fuel less than 10 minutes from the finish, but the No. 35 quickly returned to the race and finished fifth.

Reigning GS Champions and defending WeatherTech Raceway race winners TeamTGM finished seventh with co-drivers Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb in the No. 46 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4.

Eighth place went to the race winner's sister entry with Russell Ward's father and team owner Bryce Ward co-driving the No. 57 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 with Christian Hohenadel.

The third Mercedes-AMG GT4 to lead Saturday's race was the No. 92 Ramsey Racing/EXR Team by Premat entry. Starting driver Mark Ramsey led four laps in the race's opening hour but the No. 92 later retired from the race in the pits after a contact incident on course.

Russell Ward, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes- AMG GT4: "Mercedes-AMG builds these cars to win and it shows. It's awesome at places like Laguna Seca and it's going to be awesome at Road Atlanta as well. Both the cars came home clean. Buff them up, clean them up and we'll bring them to Road Atlanta and hopefully repeat the same thing. I'm happy for the crew guys. They're always there to help us when we need it. It means an incredible amount to the team. Everyone works so hard, and we live and breathe this together. To finally bring it home for the team, it just feels incredible."

Dominik Baumann, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4: "I was just replacing Indy Dontje this weekend. He's a good friend of mine, and also the full season guy, but he had a race in Germany. I got the call one week ago and I wanted to do it . The strategy call from the team for just the two tires was just amazing. We gained so much time on track. The car was just great, I could defend at the end and just pulled a gap. It looked easy, but it wasn't. I knew the competition was going to be really hard, but everything just went great, including the strategy that gave us the win. If I can help Mercedes-AMG lead a championship, it feels good. Today was a great race. Thank you to the team, and I hope I filled in quite well. It was a great effort by everyone."

Bryce Ward, Team Owner and Driver – No. 57 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4: "It's just fantastic. It's really a dream come true with this one. It's been coming, but it's been a long time. We've had so many setbacks. We had a couple of podiums last year, which were so important, but to get the first win this year is incredible. You can't pay the crew enough to do this, but you can pay them in wins, and this is the first of many to come. I'm so excited for the team. We have a new team manager and a couple of new guys on the team, and this is a great payback for them. I'm really looking forward to Atlanta because I think we can put this together again."

Dylan Murry, Driver – No. 35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4:  "I  think this was an awesome race considering it was both mine and Jim's first time here. To be able to lead a good majority of the race was incredible. A top five finish was really good, and we hope to get just a little better result at Atlanta. We were definitely gambling on another caution to come out. Unfortunately, it never came out and we had to do a splash and go at the very end. Everybody was gambling on a certain strategy. We just hoped for that caution that could've won us the race."

 

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