BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada – Six Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams competing in three different classes across a pair of IMSA racing series make their first visit to Canada since 2019 this weekend at Canadian Motorsport Park (CTMP), July 1 – 3. Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams WeatherTech Racing Proton USA and Winward Racing compete in the GTD Pro and GTD classes, respectively, in Sunday’s featured two-hour and 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race. On Saturday, four Mercedes-AMG GT4 entries from two different teams – Murillo Racing and Capstone Motorsports – compete in that day’s featured two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.
Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer teams in both series made the trek to Canada just days after last weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech and Pilot Challenge races at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York. The full weekend event marks the first top-tier IMSA races in Canada since 2019 after the CTMP events scheduled the last two years were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sunday’s WeatherTech Championship race is scheduled to start at 3:05 p.m. EDT with live coverage in the U.S. on the flagship NBC Network beginning at 3 p.m. EDT. International viewers can watch a free livestream of the race at www.IMSA.tv.
The No. 79 Weather Tech Racing Proton USA Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be shared by full-season driver Cooper MacNeil and Daniel Juncadella at CTMP in the GTD Pro division. Russell Ward and Philip Ellis in turn co-drive the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Both teams ran competitively in last Sunday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen only to see a race win for Winward and a possible podium finish by WeatherTech thwarted by the implications of a red-flag stoppage due to a thunderstorm late in the race.
When the race resumed with 35 minutes to go – with an adjusted “drive time” and nearly 10 minutes of cars on track during a clock hold – both Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams saw their chances of making it to victory lane evaporate.
Ellis drove the Winward No. 57 across the finish line in first place after joining Ward and the team’s third driver, Marvin Dienst, in leading a class-high 52 laps and pacing the GTD field for the majority of the last half of the race.
Unfortunately, Ellis and Winward had no way of meeting the adjusted drive time requirement, and the No. 57 was one of nine finishers – including seven in the GTD class – moved to the back of the race’s finishing order for drive time violations. Ellis’ total time at the wheel was less than a minute shy of the adjusted drive time and the No. 57 was relegated to an 11th-place finish.
The WeatherTech No. 79 was one of several entries forced to the pits for a splash of fuel in the final minutes but recovered to secure a top-five GTD Pro finish.
Both teams have left the disappointment of last Sunday’s race back in the United States, and instead head to CTMP encouraged by the overall performance of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 at The Glen. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has also been successful at CTMP, winning in the GTD class in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech race in addition to securing victories in other sports car racing series events on the 2.459-mile Canadian circuit.
Mercedes-AMG GT4 teams competing in the top-level Grand Sport (GS) class at The Glen last Saturday were as competitive as their GT3 counterparts and were able to leave with the results to show it.
The top overall finisher was the No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 and team drivers Christian Szymczak and Kenny Murillo who garnered their first podium finish in their inaugural season of GS competition together. Both starting driver Murillo and closer Szymczak led the race, and their combined seven laps up front was the same number of laps led as the race winner.
Szymczak led a tight field of other GS top contenders to the green flag for the final restart of the race with just under 15 minutes to go. The ensuing battle was one of the highlights of the overall weekend, and Szymczak stayed in the thick of it to the checkered flag and a season-best third-place finish.
Eric Foss and Kenton Koch overcame mechanical issues through the weekend to join Murillo teammates Szymczak and Murillo as the only driving duos to lead laps in the Watkins Glen race. Foss and Koch combined to lead nine laps and secured a sixth-place finish in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. Foss and the No. 56 team remain second in the GS class driver and team championships, just 140 points out of first place heading into Saturday’s race at CTMP.
Another Mercedes-AMG GT4 entry has led its Pilot Challenge championship since the first race of the season at Daytona in January. Gary Ferrera and Kris Wilson won their fourth Bronze Cup class race in the year’s first five races at Watkins Glen in the No. 11 Capstone Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4.
The only race the Capstone teammates didn’t win was at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May where Brent Mosing and Tim Probert took the win in the No. 65 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4.
Saturday’s two-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge race, which is scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m. EDT, promises to be another bronze battle between the Capstone No. 11 and the Murillo No. 65.
Szymczak and Murillo will be looking to improve two podium positions over last Saturday’s race at The Glen while Foss will be looking to close the gap on the GS championship lead with debuting co-driver Marc Miller.
Cooper MacNeil, Driver – No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Proton USA Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It will be good to get right back at it just five days after The Glen. We thought we deserved more at the last race. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is a tough and fast track. From the exit of Turn 10 all the way to the exit onto the Mario Andretti straight, you are up on the wheel running the car on the absolute edge. We will have to unload with a setup in the handling window to have a good weekend. It’s good to have Daniel back, I think he is really going to like the CTMP circuit. We haven’t really had a good result together yet this year, so hopefully we can get on the podium come Sunday.”
Daniel Juncadella, Driver – No. 79 Proton WeatherTech Racing USA Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I have never raced at CTMP. However, I think it is going to be my new favorite circuit. I have practiced on the SIM a lot. I know the layout very well and I love the way it flows. There are a lot of high-speed corners. I think my favorite part is sector one, where there are three high-speed corners. I think it really suits my driving style, and I think the layout of the track will also suit our WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3 as well. It is a good car in the high-speed sections where downforce helps. I am looking forward to driving again with Cooper and the WeatherTech Racing Proton team this weekend.”
Russell Ward, Driver – No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I am super proud of the team. We have had a rough year so far. We have always had the pace but haven’t quite been able to put it all together, but last weekend we did. I love Watkins Glen International. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the calendar, and the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is a sweet car to drive around there. We even overcame a couple of issues during the race, a radio failure and the failure of an air gun on the first pit stop. So, just really proud of the guys overall. We jumped a lot of guys in pit lane, passed a few on the race track and brought it home for what we know was a victory. There are some definite similarities between The Glen and CTMP, so we think the setup we had at Watkins is going to work equally well at Canada. We are in high spirits, we know the pace is there, the crew is ready to go, and we are looking forward to it.”
Philip Ellis, Driver – No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I think we will take the momentum we had at Watkins Glen up to CTMP. For me personally, it is another new track to learn, as it was for Watkins Glen last weekend. It will be a cool experience, and it’s great to not have a big break between races. It’s nice to go there directly after the run we had, which was a great team performance and a great Mercedes-AMG GT3. Honestly, to me the tracks in North America are a lot more fun and much more old school to drive than a lot of the tracks we have in Europe, except for maybe the Nordschleife. It’s more fun to drive over here because you don’t have the runoffs that allow you to make a mistake. That makes it much more risk-reward, so it’s a lot more driver related than in Europe.”
Kenny Murillo – No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4: “We are feeling very good heading to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park after our first podium finish of the season at Watkins Glen. Honestly, I am more relieved we didn’t get hit and taken out again at The Glen. It’s great to be able to finish a race and have it be a third-place result. I am incredibly grateful to be driving a Mercedes-AMG GT4 with Christian Szymczak under the Murillo Racing tent. I couldn’t ask for more. I am so excited for the team. We finally caught a break, and we will be on the top step this weekend in Canada. It was a good team effort, and we are coming off a really good overall team result.”
Gary Ferrera – No. 11 Capstone Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4: “The Capstone team has been flawless this season. It’s all about the team. The car setup, we’re having struggles with, but the team did their pit stops perfectly last weekend at Watkins Glen and we had no baubles with the seat belts as we have in the past. In a series as competitive as the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, it is more about not making mistakes, not getting flat tires and things like that, and that’s really helping us out this season. For me, that’s the key.”