Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing team Riley Motorsports and No. 74 Mercedes-AMG GT3 co-drivers Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach secured a sixth place GT Daytona (GTD) class finish Saturday night in the WeatherTech 240 at Daytona International Speedway.
The first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race run since January, and just the second event of 2020, the two-hour, 40-minute race restarted this year’s season on the Fourth of July following a five-month hiatus due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The race brought the IMSA WeatherTech Championship back to where the season began with the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 25 – 26, and gave the No. 74 team and drivers a successful shot at redemption on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course.
Saturday night, the No. 74 team and drivers put in a trouble-free run in a caution-free race to score solid points counting towards the 2020 WeatherTech Championship standings.
Robinson started the race after qualifying ninth, less than a second behind the pole-winning car in a tight GTD field.
Despite starting on slick tires on a track damp from late afternoon rain showers, Robinson quickly moved up in the field from the drop of the green flag.
He picked off two spots in the opening laps of the race and settled into a competitive pace throughout his race-opening stint that kept the No. 74 securely on the lead lap.
Pitting from seventh place for the team’s first pit stop 53 minutes into the race, Robinson handed off to Aschenbach who soon cycled back to seventh after the Riley crew quickly got the No. 74 back into the race.
As Aschenbach drove through the final two stints of the race, the competitive long-run pace of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 came into play.
Aschenbach moved to sixth place in the race’s final hour and then built a nearly one-minute gap over the seventh-place competitor. The cushion let the Riley crew call Aschenbach to the pits for a quick splash of fuel two minutes from the finish, yet still maintain sixth place for the finish at the checkered flag.
Next up for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer teams is the SRO Motorsports Group America weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, July 9 – 12. The VIR race marks the return of both the GT World Challenge America Presented by AWS and the Pirelli GT4 America series for the first time in more than four months.
Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer teams in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship return to competition in two weeks at Sebring International Raceway, July 16 – 17, where the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series will also see its 2020 season resume.
Gar Robinson, Driver – No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It was great to be back in a race car. We had a pretty good start and passed a few guys in the first few laps. We were one of the first teams to decide to start on slick tires despite the rain.
The race start was delayed while we waited for some lightning in the area to clear, and some other teams made the same move to slicks. That took away what might have been an advantage, but it was still good to get some sixth place points today. We will look for even better results at Sebring in two weeks.”
Lawson Aschenbach, Driver – No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We were flat out the whole race and came up just short on fuel to make it to the end. Some others had the same issue but, in our case, we had some fuel taken away from us in a rules adjustment before the weekend, and that made a big difference. The thing to take away from this race is that we executed flawlessly.
That was the important thing. You have to execute and be on top of your game. That’s important because a lot of these races are going to go green all the way this year. You are going to be flat out the entire time and can’t make any mistakes. Today our pit stops were perfect, our strategy was perfect and the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was perfect.
Gar did a great job in the beginning gaining a lot of spots. With a little bit of Balance of Performance (BoP) rules help hopefully we will be there and able to fight for the win at Sebring.”