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Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Secure Double-Pole Sweep and Top-Three GTD Lockout in Qualifying Sunday for Next Weekend’s 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (January 22, 2023) – Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams WeatherTech Racing, Winward Racing, SunEnergy1 Racing and Team Korthoff Motorsports combined to secure a double-pole sweep and top-three GT Daytona (GTD) lockout in qualifying Sunday for next weekend’s 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). Maro Engel drove the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the GTD Pro class pole with a top lap time of 1:46.784 (120.018 mph). Philip Ellis in turn won the GTD pole in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to give the team its second-consecutive Rolex 24 pole position with a class-leading lap time of 1:46.093 (120.799 mph), which was fastest overall on the day for both GTD categories.

WeatherTech and Winward were the pole winners in a top-four overall Mercedes-AMG GT3 sweep of the GTD classes as Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing competitors left nothing on the table in a perfect qualifying performance on the 3.56-mile DIS road course.

Fabian Schiller held the GTD pole in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with less than four minutes to go and ultimately ended up second fastest, clocking in at 1:46.312 (120.551 mph). The top-three GTD sweep was completed by Mikael Grenier in his first race in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 with a lap time of 1:46.705 (120.107 mph).

Engel and Ellis each won their first Rolex 24 pole positions, but the No. 57 team’s top qualifying effort was the second Rolex 24 pole in a row for Winward Racing. In 2022, Russell Ward and Lucas Auer co-drove the No. 57 to a qualifying race victory to secure the GTD pole for last year’s race. Ellis, Ward, Auer and returning team driver Indy Dontje co-drive the No. 57 in next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona where Winward looks for its second GTD victory in three years after winning in the team’s first attempt at the day-long race in 2021.

Engel, who co-drove with Ellis, Ward and Dontje in Winward’s 2021 victory, now looks to give Mercedes-AMG its first GTD Pro class win next weekend in the WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition No. 79 with co-drivers Cooper MacNeil, Daniel Juncadella and Jules Gounon.

Schiller shares the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with team owner and driver Kenny Habul, Luca Stolz and Axcil Jefferies.

Grenier co-drives the Team Korthoff No. 32 with returning team driver Mike Skeen and their teammates Kenton Koch and Maximilian Götz. The No. 32 Korthoff Mercedes-AMG GT3 team finished third in GTD in last year’s Rolex 24 and led the season-long championship standings for the majority of the season.

On-track action resumes at Daytona International Raceway this Wednesday in preparation for the 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening race, January 28 – 29.

The opening hour of the Rolex 24 airs live on the flagship NBC Network on Saturday, January 28 at 1:30 p.m. EST. Coverage continues on the USA Network on Saturday from 2:30 to 8 p.m. EST and then again from 10 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. EST.

The race can be seen from Midnight through 5:59 a.m. EST Sunday on NBC’s Peacock streaming network before resuming on USA from 6 a.m. to Noon EST. The race then closes out with a return for the final two hours on NBC that takes the coverage to the checkered flag.

Maro Engel, Driver – No. 79 WeatherTech Racing/Proton Competition Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We definitely have an amazing car, that’s for sure. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is well adapted to all of the forms of racing we do in GT racing. From the long distance races as well as the sprint rounds. It’s always confidence inspiring, just gives the driver confidence and I definitely have to thank Mercedes-AMG for that. I think all four of the teams did a really good job today. It’s clear that we were told to push, but I’m not sure that’s the case across the grid. I’m sure there’s a few cars that will suddenly find some pace next week. Overall, it was a strong go from the team. We have some room to improve, from me personally in qualifying, but obviously it was enough for pole, which is great.”

Philip Ellis, Driver – No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Last year at Daytona, and especially in the last half of the 2022 season, we were really, really strong. We’ve been able to keep that momentum going into this year. Of course, the team did great work in the off season. We worked a lot on the car and it shows. All of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams did the job. I was able to have a great, great lap and it showed. I think we hit the nail on the head, as did the other teams, so for us it’s fantastic. It’s the best starting position you can have for the race, but of course then it doesn’t mean anything. It’s going to be a different animal, racing 24 hours, there’s a lot of traffic, a lot can happen and it’s going to be a long, grueling race.”

Fabian Schiller, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We had a good qualifying and have a great package with our Mercedes-AMG GT3. We showed it in the practice sessions and then qualifying went very well for us, finishing P2 overall and one, two, three, four for Mercedes-AMG overall is as good as you can get. But it’s a long race and we will see what the others have for 24 hours.”

Mikael Grenier, Driver – No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Qualifying was good. We improved the car a lot since Friday, because that day was a bit tricky for us. The team did a super job. In qualifying, Mercedes-AMG showed everything, but I believe the others are playing a bit, which is a shame. But I trust IMSA will make the right decision because we showed what we have. Korthoff is a very good team, good people inside the team, good mechanics. I know two of them from last year in Europe. We had some nice tricks. Obviously, I think we can do it, but it’s a long way in front of us before the finish of the Rolex 24.”



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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