Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams secured three race wins across a pair of SRO Motorsports America racing series and put an early lock on a 2023 manufacturer championship title in a productive full weekend of competition on the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway road course Saturday and Sunday. TKO Motorsports and CRP Racing will take the GT America powered by AWS driver championship battle down to the wire in next month's season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), but their sweep of this weekend's 40-minute races at Sebring was enough to give Mercedes-AMG its second consecutive GT America Manufacturer Championship one race weekend early. Along with CrowdStrike Racing by Riley and Bartone Brothers Racing with RealTime, TKO and CRP have combined to win 15 of the 16 GT America races run to date this season.
Saturday's opening GT America sprint was a record-extending sixth victory of the season for driver championship leader Memo Gidley in the No. 101 TKO Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4. He built a slight overnight points cushion on the No. 27 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, that finished second Saturday, but Gidley's title rival Jason Daskalos turned the tables with an equally convincing victory ahead of Gidley in the No. 27 in Sunday's final 40-minute race. Daskalos' win was his fourth GT America race triumph of the season.
The Sebring weekend's other race winner was the No. 34 Conquest Racing/JMF Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 of co-drivers Michai Stephens and Jesse Webb that scored its second overall Pirelli GT4 America victory of the season.
After just missing the podium with fourth place finishes in the first two races of the weekend, the Conquest team and drivers put it all together for the overall victory and Silver-class triumph Sunday. The Saturday and Sunday 60-minute races were Sebring's scheduled championship rounds while Friday afternoon's opening sprint was a makeup race for a rained-out event earlier this season in New Orleans.
Stephens started Sunday's finale and moved up to third before being among the first of the race leaders to pit just before the race's halfway mark. After a fast and flawlessly executed pit stop by the Conquest/JMF team, closing driver Webb rejoined in a top-three battle for the lead. He moved into second with 20 minutes to go and a few laps later pulled off what proved to be the winning pass of the race. Webb kept close control of the field to the checkered flag, crossing the finish line with a 1.642 second margin of victory.
Sunday's win was the second overall Pirelli GT4 victory in a row for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 and the Conquest/JMF team. The No. 34 team and drivers also scored an overall victory at Road America one race ago in addition to their first Silver-class win earlier in the season.
The Sebring weekend's other podium player was the duo of George Kurtz and Colin Braun who finished third in the Pro-Am class in both Saturday's and Sunday's 90-minute Fanatec GT World Challenge America races in the No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing with Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Kurtz and Braun head into next month's season-ending race in Indy locked in a tight battle at the top of the Pro-Am driver championship standings.
The SRO Motorsports America season finales at Indianapolis are the main supporting races for and – as is the case for GT World Challenge – part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge 8 Hours of Indianapolis, October 4 – 8.
Memo Gidley, Driver – No. 101 TKO Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "Prior to this weekend at Sebring, we didn't test here. So, I was concerned coming here that we would be playing catch up, but we unloaded with a really good car right from the get-go. A car never feels perfect around Sebring because it just punishes you no matter what you are in. We just kept making slight little progress here and there. In most of the practices, everything was really close, but I knew once we got into the race I could settle in and just click off consistent laps, and that's where we were really able to stretch out the lead in the TKO Motorsports car. The Mercedes-AMG GT3, when you unload it, is really good, and then when you find the sweet spot, it is exceptionally good. It is a great car to drive, and I really enjoy it."
Jason Daskalos, Driver – No. 27 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We definitely needed that win Sunday to catch back up and we got it done. Two races to go and I think anything can happen. We did well this weekend and now we are going to Indy to close out the season with two more wins. I have been there before and that always helps. This Mercedes-AMG GT3 is just incredible. It does everything well. It's a new platform for us and I love it. Nic Short and everyone at CRP Racing have a lot of experience with AMG and it shows. We are doing well, second in the points behind Memo, who is such a great driver, and he has a great team behind him too. We are really proud to have this Mercedes-AMG."
George Kurtz, Driver – No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing with Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We are disappointed because we thought we would come away from Sebring with a bit more points, but we will regroup, focus on Indy and a one-race shootout for the title. I think we have a good team, we have been to Indy this year already in testing and some other areas, so hopefully we will come away with the win. It's going to be super tight but hopefully we have a little bit of an edge. We will see where it all shakes out."
Colin Braun, Driver – No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing with Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We are excited to get to Indy and we are right in the thick of the championship battle. Obviously, we would have liked to have a nice cushy lead, but that's not the way this sport goes. We are looking forward to getting in there, battling with those guys and we have a good driver lineup with a lot of endurance racing experience. Obviously, the Riley guys really have it dialed in from the pit-stop strategy side and I am looking forward to getting that race started and getting to work."
Michai Stephens, Driver – No. 34 Conquest Racing/JMF Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4: "Yet another weekend to remember, which is genuinely a product of every single individual on this JMF Motorsports/Conquest Racing team. We have the privilege to drive the most beautiful platform out there, and that's the Mercedes-AMG GT4, and there's nothing more one can say besides priceless gratitude to Mr. John Farrow, Eric Bachelart and the entire supporting staff. Jesse had his day today and it was rightfully coming. The pit stop strategy ended up being super paramount and a tremendous contributing factor to the result on Sunday. At the forefront of the weekend, things did not look all that optimistic, but everybody hung in there and we had some kumbaya moments in the evenings. We all believed in ourselves and our team as one and it was nice to be able to stand on the top step. We are all just very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to moving on to Indy."
Jesse Webb, Driver – No. 34 Conquest Racing/JMF Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4: "What a race! That was a thrilling one, battles all the way through and kept going right to the end. The second-place team kept the pressure on, but we were able to stay up front. I can't thank this JMF Motorsports/Conquest Racing team enough with John Farrow, Eric Bachelart, all of the mechanics and everybody on the team. Michai Stephens put in a wonderful first stint, it is really exciting to be here in victory lane, and we weren't really expecting it. We were able to throw it down, get it done and it was quite the weekend. Quite the way to finish the weekend. I was able to get the winning pass made in the corner, defended down the front straight into the next corner, and in those next sectors I was faster. I was able to get in front and run away."
For more information on AMG Customer Sports, please visit www.mercedes-amg.com/customerracing.
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