Pole, Podium and Fourth-Place GTD Qualifying Run for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

First Pole and Podium Showing for Mercedes-AMG GT4 Teams in IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park; Fourth-Place GTD Qualifying Performance

– BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams turned in a trio of season-best performances in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series competition Saturday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

The competitive showing included the first pole and podium finish for the Mercedes- AMG GT4 in IMSA Continental Tire series competition and a season-best fourth-place Mercedes-AMG GT3 qualifying effort for Ben Keating and Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class.

Alexandre Premat and the No. 92 Ramsey Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 team set the day's first milestone Saturday morning by winning the pole in qualifying for that afternoon's IMSA Continental Tire series two-hour race. Premat then led the majority of the race's opening hour before handing off to teammate Mark Ramsey at the halfway point. Ramsey ran competitively in only his fifth race start in the IMSA Continental Tire series and brought the No. 92 to the finish in 14th place.

The milestone podium result was a third-place showing by Russell Ward and Damien Faulkner in the No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4. After starting driver Ward kept the No. 33 in lead-pack contention throughout his race- opening stint, Faulkner took over in a pit stop late in hour one and quickly zeroed in on the front runners.

A strategy call by the Winward/HTP crew brought the No. 33 to the pits under caution for a second time with 50 minutes to go, giving Faulkner a fresh set of Continentals and enough fuel to charge to the finish. He rejoined in fourth and pulled off the pass for third as he crossed under the starter's stand on the front straight to take the white flag.

Saturday's Continental Tire series race also saw the debut of Shining Star Motorsport by Atlantic Racing Team, a Canadian team that finished its first race in its No. 6 Mercedes-AMG GT4 with co-drivers Danny Kok and Phil Holtrust.

In the top-level IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Keating, the only driver to qualify the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the 2018 season, relied on a perfect off-the-trailer setup by the Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports crew for his best qualifying result in two seasons of competition in the Mercedes-AMG GT3.

He will take the green flag for Sunday's Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix IMSA WeatherTech Championship race from the outside of row two while co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen will later take over and bring the No. 33 to the finish.

Round 6 of 11 GT Daytona (GTD) races on the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech Championship schedule, Sunday's two-hour, 40-minute Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 2:05 p.m. EDT. The race will be preceded by a 20-minute final warmup session at 9:50 a.m. EDT.

The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix will be televised on FS1 on a same-day delayed basis beginning at 4 p.m. EDT and will be carried live by IMSA Radio on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio. International viewers can watch live streaming of the race on IMSA.tv.

Damien Faulkner, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4: "I have been with these guys now for the second full season and with started last year with a bang. We were fortunate to get third in our Daytona debut [in 2017] but haven't had another podium until today. We have been working really hard, made the switch to the Mercedes-AMG GT4, and Russell and I have just been chipping away. There's not a data session missed, not a video session missed, there's not a debrief missed, and we have seen some results of that from Russell today. He was the fastest in the first sector in final practice today and then made a couple of great moves in the race. When you see little glimpses like that you know that he is doing well."

Russell Ward, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes- AMG GT4: "It's just awesome. We had been struggling so much this year. We are a new team, a close team, and to bring it home for the boys and put in on the podium is just fantastic. We would have liked to have been two places higher, and I think we had the Mercedes-AMG GT4 to do it, but it is still just so great for the team. It's just going to snowball from here. Lime Rock is next and I think the car is going to be really good there. There's not a lot of straights but it does have some high-speed sections. We are looking forward to it."

Alexandre Premat, Driver – No. 92 Ramsey Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: "We are very happy about the pole position today with the brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT4. The package is very strong, especially here, because the track is very short and fast and there is only one corner where we go into second gear. We don't suffer so much from the lack of torque we have in the current balance of performance rules. We are pretty pleased to put the Quest and Ramsey Racing car on its first pole position in the series and the first for our team, for me and for the Mercedes-AMG GT4. We are a brand-new team, but we are working together pretty well now."

Danny Kok, Driver – No. 6 Shining Star Motorsport by Atlantic Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT4: "Both Phil and I were excited to be at the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. This was the first race for the team and there has been lots of testing and planning. In testing, we found that our Mercedes- AMG GT4 really liked the high-speed sections, something that CTMP has lots of. Although I live near Vancouver, I consider this to be my home track. It has been great to receive all the support from friends, clients and the local racing fans."

Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "I feel very happy about qualifying fourth, the first 'am' in qualifying, and the three guys in front of me are all pro drivers. At some point, their 'am' co-drivers will have to get in and they will compete against Jeroen when he is in our car. The Mercedes-AMG Team Riley crew really nailed the setup. We haven't changed anything. We nailed it better than I ever remember it with this car. It's an unusual setup for this car at this track but it has been unbelievably good. I love this track. It is really interesting to compare the driving styles between Jeroen and myself. He's fast, I have been fast here, but we make up our time in different ways. Having courage to go into a corner hard has never been my problem. This is a track is one that really favors that courage and my driving style. It's very nice to be where we are on the grid. I am starting on the outside of row two and my goal is to stay next to Bryan Sellers so I can be on the inside of Turn 2. That's where you want to be to setup for Turn 3. I am hopeful I can be in third place going into Turn 3."

Jeroen Bleekemolen, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We can look forward to a really good chance here tomorrow. The car is running great. From the first time we took our Mercedes-AMG GT3 off the trailer the setup was good. We haven't had to mess around with it really. Ben did an incredibly good job in qualifying against some of the platinum and gold drivers. We are pretty happy, we're ready to go and the conditions are good for our car. It's a great track for our Mercedes-AMG GT3 with all of its downforce and I love coming here."

 

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