MONTEREY, California. Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams compete this weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in two IMSA racing series. Five entries from three different racing teams will attempt to secure a third-straight IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series victory for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in Saturday’s two-hour race on the 2.238-mile road course. In the weekend’s featured race, co-drivers Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 carry the Mercedes-AMG flag in the GT Daytona (GTD) class, in the two-hour and 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race that closes out the Laguna Seca event Sunday.
A victory in Saturday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge race by any one of the Grand Sport (GS) class-high five entries will keep the Mercedes-AMG GT4 undefeated in IMSA competition at Laguna Seca.
The next-to-last race of the 2020 Pilot Challenge season is scheduled to start at 3:35 p.m. PDT this Saturday, October 31, with a live stream on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. International viewers can watch live at www.IMSA.tv.
After a Pilot Challenge win at Laguna Seca in the debut season of competition in North America for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in 2018, Winward Racing stepped up to secure the second-straight victory for the car on the Monterey track last year.
Russell Ward co-drove to the 2019 win with Dominik Baumann and returns this weekend to defend the victory with co-driver Nico Bastian in the No. 4 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
The No. 4 team brings to California the momentum of a top-five finish at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta two weeks ago, in what was the debut race for German Mercedes-AMG driver Bastian in the U.S.
Ward and Bastian compete alongside the sister No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 shared by Ward’s father, Bryce Ward, and his co-driver Alec Udell.
Another two-car Mercedes-AMG GT4 entry comes from Central-California-based team Murillo Racing. Co-drivers Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss were the highest finishing Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing team at Road Atlanta, with Foss bringing the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 across the finish line in fourth place, just ahead of Bastian.
The No. 65 Murillo Racing entry will be shared by full-season driver Tim Probert and Kenny Murillo, son of team owner Ken Murillo, for the second time this season. The younger Murillo made his IMSA Pilot Challenge debut in the No 65 with Probert at Sebring International Raceway in July, but Saturday’s start comes on the circuit the Murillo family considers one of its home tracks.
The No. 35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 and team drivers Jim Cox and Dylan Murry arrive in Laguna Seca looking for a return of the good fortune that helped secure a victory in January’s season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.
The No. 35 team has continued the quick pace all season, but more recently has been hampered by contact incidents and a penalty in three of the last four races. Their most recent highlight was a second-place finish last month in the second race of a doubleheader at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech Championship race is the final two-hour and 40-minute sprint race of the 2020 season. Live flag-to-flag coverage on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold begins at 1 p.m. PST with same day coverage available later on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. PST/6:30 p.m. EST on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).
Robinson, Aschenbach and the No. 74 team have secured their top 2020 finishes in sprint races this season, led by a third-place finish at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) in August.
A three-day weekend event, on-track action gets underway Friday with a pair of afternoon Pilot Challenge practice sessions.
The WeatherTech Championship takes to the track for the first time Saturday for a pair of practice sessions. Pilot Challenge GS qualifying takes place Saturday morning at 9:40 a.m. PDT to set the grid for that afternoon’s two-hour race that is scheduled to go green at 3:35 p.m. PDT.
Sunday’s schedule begins with WeatherTech Championship GTD qualifying at 8:30 a.m. PST ahead of the featured two-hour and 40-minute race later that afternoon at 1:05 p.m. PST.
Russell Ward, Driver – No. 4 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “Laguna Seca is probably my favorite track. I was sitting there watching TV yesterday, but I looked over and had a Laguna track map on my wall in preparation. It is just a beautiful area but a really technical track that I think suits the Mercedes-AMG GT4 really well. A lot of high-speed stuff, a lot of elevation change, it is all very exciting. It’s a good overall track for the car and also for the team. The guys have trained pretty hard on the pit stops and they will shine there too. I am looking forward to getting back there. We were able to get the win last year and I think we can repeat the same thing this weekend. There is no doubt.”
Nico Bastian, Driver – No. 4 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “In the end, I was satisfied with a top-five finish at Road Atlanta, but that isn’t the reason I came the long way from Europe to America. I wanted to be on the podium, and that’s why I’m looking forward to Laguna Seca. The track should suit us a little better because there aren’t long straights and even more tire degradation. Our strength with the Mercedes-AMG GT4 is normally saving tires at the end of a stint. I’m really looking forward to it, and now I have more experience for the race. Everything is all in for Laguna Seca. I like the atmosphere here in America. The paddock is different, but I really enjoy it. I like it.”
Lawson Aschenbach, Driver – No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I’m excited to get to Laguna Seca for the penultimate round of the IMSA Season. This track has it all: high speeds, heavy brake zones, elevation changes, and limited grip levels, so it makes for great racing. You really have to ‘get up on the wheel.’ I believe that the track can play to the strengths of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the emphasis on braking performance, acceleration and stability during heavy changes in elevation. Tire wear and stint performance will come into play as well and we know the Mercedes-AMG GT3 will shine in those areas. In my mind, Gar and I are going for wins at all costs at this point in the season. I have no doubt that Bill Riley, our engineer Tyler Hook and the rest of the Riley group will work their magic in pit lane to help put us in contention to win.”