Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing wins both GT Masters races at Nürburgring
With a victory and a second place, Raffaele Marciello (SUI) and MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF put themselves back in contention in the battle for the ADAC GT Masters championship title. Following a commanding lights-to-flag win on Saturday, Marciello and and his new teammate Maro Engel (GER) added a second-place finish with the #48 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Sunday race at Nürburgring. Jules Gounon (FRA) and Fabian Schiller (GER) also showed outstanding achievements throughout the weekend and rewarded themselves and Drago Racing Team ZVO with a third place and a race win. In the second race of the weekend on Sunday, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams also impressed as a collective with four results among the best five.
- Raffaele Marciello moves up into the lead of the drivers’ standings after a win and a podium result
- Race 1: MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF #48 claims first win of the season on Saturday
- Race 2: Four top five results for Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing on Sunday
Only one week after the historic 1-2 in the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams were already back on track again. Following a start of the season with highs and lows, the Nürburgring Grand Prix circuit served as the venue for the next ADAC GT Masters race weekend. The field also included the two Spa race winners Jules Gounon and Raffaele Marciello.
For the fourth of seven rounds in the international German GT championship, the teams had made some changes in their driver pairings. Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador Maro Engel made his comeback in the series to support Raffaele Marciello in the #48 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF. In 2021, the DTM driver was still a regular ADAC GT Masters racer alongside Luca Stolz (GER), who also returned to the cockpit for the Nürburgring race weekend. As Daniel Juncadella (ESP) raced in the US IMSA series, Performance Driver Stolz stepped into the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Mercedes-AMG Team ZVO at the last minute. Like at Zandvoort already, Maximilian Götz (GER) shared the Madpanda Motorsport cockpit with team owner Ezequiel Perez Companc (ARG).
Race 1: Victory and podium result for Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing in the Saturday race
In free practice on Friday, Marciello already posted the fastest time of the day with the #48 MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF Mercedes-AMG GT3 and confirmed this lap in first qualifying. With his time of 1m 25.544s, he even established a new ADAC GT Masters qualifying record at the Nürburgring’s short circuit configuration. For the first race of the weekend, this meant pole position ahead of fellow Mercedes-AMG driver Fabian Schiller, who had qualified the #4 Drago Racing Team ZVO Mercedes-AMG GT3 in second place to complete the lock-out of the front row of the grid for Mercedes-AMG.
In the one-hour race on Saturday afternoon, the #48 car once again was the fastest car in the field. During his stint, Marciello managed to build up a reassuring margin over Schiller as his main rival on two occasions. However, he lost his advantage due to safety car interventions each time. Nevertheless, during the mandatory pit stop, Maro Engel took over the wheel of the #48 car with a time advantage of around five seconds. With all his routine, Engel managed this comfortable situation and drove home an undisputed lights-to-flag victory on Saturday, also the first success of the season for MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF.
The #4 Drago Racing Team ZVO car lost its second position during the pit stop, but Jules Gounon still brought home a good third-place finish for the team. The #48 MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF entry with Frank Bird (GBR) and Elias Seppänen (FIN) as its drivers secured its best result of the season to date in sixth place. The #8 Mercedes-AMG Team ZVO car with Jan Marschalkowski (GER) and Luca Stolz finished the race in ninth place and therefore also ended up in the top ten.
Race 2: A 1-2 and four Mercedes-AMG GT3s among the first five on Sunday
In qualifying on Sunday morning, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams continued where they left off on the previous day. Maro Engel emulated the achievement by his teammate and put the #48 car on pole position for the second time this weekend. Next up were no less than three further Mercedes-AMG GT3s in second to fourth place on the grid: #4, #48 and #8.
The Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams used this ideal initial situation to hold on to their positions in a turbulent opening stage. While Luca Stolz had to park the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 early during his comeback due to a collision for which he wasn’t at fault, the #48, the #4 and the #84 cars slotted into first to third position.
Subsequently, Maro Engel led the field throughout the first stint with the #48 Mercedes-AMG GT3 from Drago Racing Team ZVO’s Jules Gounon and Frank Bird in the #48 MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF GT3. To avoid loss of time while lapping other cars, the two leading cars came into the pits after 30 minutes. Marciello took over the #48 car from Engel while Schiller replaced Gounon in the #4 car.
As Marciello had allegedly been too slow while driving down pit lane, race control imposed a penalty lap. That enabled Fabian Schiller to move up into the lead with the #4 car, the #48 car still remained in second place. As the time was insufficient to close the gap, Gounon, Schiller and Drago Racing Team ZVO scored their second win of the season. Marciello and Engel secured second place.
With the #84 sister car, Frank Bird and Elias Seppänen finished the race in fourth place and therefore topped their sixth place from the previous day. The drivers of the #90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3, who had started the race from 14th place on the grid, benefited from the chaos at the start to put in a spectacular recovery drive. At the finish, Maximilian Götz and Ezequiel Perez Companc were in fifth place, the best result for the Spanish team in its debut season to date.
Marciello leading the points’ standings prior to the next round at Lausitzring
With the excellent results at Nürburgring, Raffaele Marciello has moved up into the lead of the drivers’ standings. Prior to the ninth and tenth race of the season at Lausitzring on 20th and 21st August, his margin over Gounon and Schiller in second place is 16 points. After that, the German GT series, also known as “super sports car league”, is racing at Sachsenring on 24th and 25th September while the battle for the championship title will be decided at Hockenheimring on 22nd and 23rd October.
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “For our customer sport teams, this motorsport week couldn’t have been more successful. First of all, the long-awaited victory at Spa and now also a dream result here at Nürburgring. Both achievements also underline the endurance and sprint racing qualities of our Mercedes-AMG GT3. And our teams and drivers have converted these qualities into outstanding results in a perfect way. Having had a couple of difficult ADAC GT Masters races recently, the victories this weekend are all the more important. Now, it is also down to us to support MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF and Drago Racing Team ZVO in their battle for the championship in the best possible way.”
Raffaele Marciello, driver, MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF #48: “This weekend, we have scored many important points, which is very good, of course. Nevertheless, the issue with the penalty today is still very annoying. All in all, however, things are going into the right direction and Maro had a super pace as well. We would have loved to achieve the maximum score, but we can still be happy.”
Maro Engel, driver, MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF #48: “First of all, I would like to express huge thanks to MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF for taking me on board in a great way and for providing us with an excellent car. In hindsight, we are slightly disappointed because of the questionable penalty against us, even though the weekend in general was very successful.”
Fabian Schiller, driver, Drago Racing Team ZVO #4: “It was a good race weekend for us. Firstly third place on Saturday, then victory today. The fact that we qualified on the front row twice shows that we extracted the perfect thing from the car as a team. I am very happy with the performance we have shown. This weekend, Raffaele and Maro were incredibly fast. Had it not been for the penalty, we probably wouldn’t have won, but we are happy to take it, of course.”
Jules Gounon, driver, Drago Racing Team ZVO #4: “We had a few chequered weekends at Zandvoort and Red Bull Ring. Accordingly, we are very happy with the two races at Nürburgring. Even though we would have liked to win on track, this success after the victory at Spa rounds out a perfect motorsport weekend for me.”
Frank Bird, driver, MANN-FILTER Team LANDGRAF #84: This was a really good weekend. After the difficult start of the season, we worked our way up step by step. We can be very happy with our qualifying performance in particular. Now, we have to keep this level for the remainder of the season.”