Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series secured top-five finishes in a pair of IMSA Michelin Endurance Challenge Weekend races at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta Saturday and Sunday. Gar Robinson, Lawson Aschenbach and Ben Keating co-drove the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 to a fourth-place GT Daytona (GTD) class finish in Saturday’s six-hour IMSA WeatherTech Championship race. On Sunday, co-drivers Russell Ward and Indy Dontje finished fifth in the No. 4 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the four-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.
The No. 74 Riley team’s fourth-place run was the result of a well-executed and largely mistake-free race by the team and the drivers. Gridding 10th in the GTD field, starting driver Robinson steadily moved up throughout his race-opening stint, running as high as fourth late in his shift.
Keating took the wheel for the middle stint and drove flat-out in the peak heat of the day in green flag conditions for two hours. The fast and focused run kept the No. 74 on the race’s lead lap and well positioned for closing driver Aschenbach to take over for the race’s final stint in the top five.
Aschenbach moved up to fourth place in the closing minutes and looked for a chance to make a move for third in a late-race restart, which made for a two-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Unfortunately, too many lapped or faster cars from other classes were in the mix and Aschenbach never had the chance to make a move for the final podium position. He took the checkered flag in fourth, only 4.576 seconds behind the GTD class winner.
Next up for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series is Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, September 25 – 27.
The Mid-Ohio weekend features twin Michelin Pilot Challenge races Saturday and Sunday as well as a two-hour and 40-minute WeatherTech Championship race on Sunday.
Gar Robinson, Driver – No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The Mercedes-AMG GT3 performed excellent. This is the fastest I have ever been around this track. It’s been a big learning curve in my first experience at this track with these cars. I think we really earned this fourth-place finish. It just shows the never quit and always keep fighting attitude of this team at Riley Motorsports. They haven’t stopped impressing me since I got here. I think the team is coming together and we’re learning a lot about each other, especially when we get Ben to come in here as our third. Ben’s been so helpful with us this weekend because he knows the car so much better than us. Lawson did an incredible job. Ben did an incredible job, and I tried to do the best I could too. I think I ran a good race myself. I got the long stint at the beginning. We did pretty well there. I think we definitely have a lot of momentum and we’ll have a really good run at Mid-Ohio.”
Lawson Aschenbach, Driver – No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “First and foremost, the team executed flawlessly in the pits. The strategy was great. That is what Riley Motorsports does. We know they’re going to nail it- every time, every race, every pit stop – and I think that was a really big part of our day. On top of that, it’s a team effort here. Gar had a great stint at the beginning, and Ben ran two great stints to keep us on the lead lap. From that point forward, it was just head down and ready to go. We had a really fast Mercedes-AMG GT3. Once we got clear of some guys, I was able to lay down some good laps and close the gap on everybody. I wanted to make a move for third on that last restart but unfortunately the traffic it negated any type of passing or any opportunity.”
Ben Keating, Driver – No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I was glad to be here because Road Atlanta really likes the Mercedes-AMG GT3. I had two hours of staying ahead of the leader so we wouldn’t go a lap down. Everybody did a great job. I feel like everything went well. It’s tough. You only have two one-hour practice sessions and we have three drivers to get through for this race. So, it’s really hard to get much setup work done. We improved the car there at the end of the race, came in fourth place, and I’m really happy with where we finished. The nice thing is that we will be back here next month with a 10-hour race. If we’ve got a good car right now, we’ll just put it in a box and bring it back in another month, and we’ll be good to go.”