Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Overcomes Penalty and Hard Hits for Fifth- Place Finish in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Race at Road America

Keating, Bleekemolen and the No. 33 Mercedes- AMG GT3 Team Power Through Early Penalty and Late-Race Hits to Finish Fifth Sunday at Road America

– ELKHART LAKE, WI.

Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports persevered through an early drive-through penalty and a string of late hard hits from an overly-aggressive competitor to finish fifth in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in Sunday's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The top-five finish was rewarding in that the team was competitive in Sunday's race after an overnight rebuild of the No. 33 following a Friday practice accident, but the two-hour and 40-minute race also had its fair share of frustrations.

After qualifying fifth in the rebuilt No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Saturday morning, Keating started the race and ran in the lead GTD pack in the early stages of his opening stint. He was in tight formation with the other GTD contenders only to be hit with a drive-through penalty for slight contact with a BMW.

Keating served the penalty and then steadily worked his way back into contention before handing the No. 33 off to Bleekemolen at the race's one-hour mark.

Bleekemolen soon cracked the top five and moved into third before pitting the No. 33 for the final time just under an hour from the finish. He rejoined the race in fourth and right behind the three race leaders, well positioned to fight to the finish for a podium spot.

Bleekemolen was just zeroing in on the top-three when a Ferrari competitor delivered a string of deliberate blows to the back of the No. 33 in the final 10 minutes of the race.

The hard hits wrecked the right rear bodywork and rear splitter of the No. 33 and shuffled Bleekemolen back to fifth in a needlessly damaged car he was able to nurse to the finish line.

Next up for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is Round 9 of 11 GTD races on the 2018 schedule at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR), August 17 – 19.

Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "First of all, I am very, very grateful to the team. The amount of work they did to get this car ready to go for today was unbelievable. One of my disappointments is that we never really had a chance to show the car's full capabilities in the race because we had a great car today, and that is all thanks to the team. Early in the race, I took a drive-through penalty when I tapped the back of the BMW. Everybody kept going, everybody was fine, but the fact is I hit the back of him. I caused him to lose a couple of positions and took the drive-through penalty just fine. So, for the Ferrari to hit us three times, really damage our car, treat us and every other car on the track like a pinball, and then be on the podium is very frustrating. I am upset with the inconsistency of the calls. I had a small tap and had a drive- through penalty for it. We get hit three times and there is no call."

Jeroen Bleekemolen, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "The whole team did an amazing job getting the car back out. The whole weekend, all the laps I did, the car was so good. It was a weird race with so many yellows and strategies going on out there, some lucky, some not so lucky. In the end we were fighting for the podium, but we came up just short. We got hit from behind, which cost us a position, that's sometimes part of racing, but hopefully he will get in some trouble for that. Still, it was good racing I think, the fans would have enjoyed it and most of the time I enjoyed it also."

For more information on AMG Customer Sports, please visit www.mercedes- amg.com/customerracing.

 

# # #

 

Array ( [domain_id] => 1 [subdomain] => intl-stars-section-raffle.mbca.org [sitename] => MBCA [scheme] => https [valid] => 1 [weight] => -1 [is_default] => 1 [machine_name] => benzowners_org [path] => https://www.mbca.org/ [site_grant] => 1 )