INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – All four Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams eligible for Intercontinental GT Challenge championship points in today’s Indianapolis 8 Hour qualified inside the top 10 Saturday in a close Pole Shootout at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jules Gounon was the fastest of the four Mercedes-AMG GT3 entries in the 15-car shootout in the No. 99 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, turning a top lap time of 1:33.515 (99.667 mph) on the 2.54-mile IMS road course. Marvin Dienst was seventh fastest overall at 1:34.013 (99.139 mph) to win the Silver Cup class pole in the No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 while Mikael Grenier locked down the Pro-Am-class pole in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with a lap time of 1:34.232 (98.909 mph).
Raffaele Marciello qualified eighth fastest overall in the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 as Mercedes-AMG was the only manufacturer to place each of its four points-eligible entries in the Pole Shootout top 10. Marciello recorded a top lap time of 1:34.130 (99.015 mph) in the No. 89, which the team took delivery of at IMS for the first time early Saturday morning after a multi-day shipping delay.
The Indianapolis 8 Hour is scheduled to start today at 10 a.m. EDT with live flag-to-flag coverage on the SRO GT World YouTube page and live segment coverage on the CBS Sports Network (CBSSN) from 12 – 2 p.m. EDT and 4 – 6:30 p.m. EDT.
Gounon co-drives with Maro Engel and Luca Stolz in the Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing entry, with Engel slated to start the 8 Hour in the No. 99.
Philip Ellis pulls the opening driving shift in the Winward Racing No. 33 he will share in the 8 Hour with Dienst and Russell Ward.
Marciello’s teammates include Daniel Juncadella and starting driver Timur Boguslavskiy who will take the green flag in the Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP No. 89.
Team owner and driver Kenny Habul will start the 8 Hour in his No. 75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Martin Konrad joining him and Grenier in the driver lineup.
A trio of DXDT Racing entries in the Pro-Am class complete the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport customer teams competing in the Indianapolis 8 Hour.
Erin Vogel, Michael Cooper and Thomas Merrill qualified 18th overall and third in Pro-Am in the No. 19 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 while DXDT’s other pair of entries share row 11 on the starting grid.
George Kurtz, Colin Braun and Ben Keating qualified 21st and sixth in Pro-Am in the No. 04 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and David Askew, Ryan Dalziel and Scott Smithson roll off 22nd and seventh in Pro-Am in the No. 63 DXDT Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The DXDT race-starting drivers are Vogel, Kurtz and Askew.
Jules Gounon, Driver – No. 99 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It was very good. I tried my maximum in qualifying, we missed the pole by nearly nothing, but we still have eight hours to make it up tomorrow. We’re going to work even harder tonight to find a solution on the setup. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 feels good on the long runs, so we are really happy to be back and on the second row for the Indianapolis 8 Hour. It’s such a strong field this year so we can be proud of what has been achieved today. This is the first race in two years for Craft-Bamboo, so they too can be proud of their work. Thanks to the engineers and crew for a fantastic car as always. We’ll try to have a clean race, as best as possible, and hopefully we will have big smiles on Sunday night.”
Marvin Dienst, Driver – No. 33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I drove it and I think myself and the team seem to be quite happy with the performance. We were struggling a bit in the first qualifying round, but the average was quite clear, so we made it into the Pole Shootout. We had one shot with a clean lap, and quite a decent lap as well. It was not a maximum push because we’re fighting in the Silver Cup class and didn’t go all in and taking the full risk to get the overall pole. It’s a long race ahead, so we just tried to get the pole position in class. We are starting P7 and P1 in class by quite a bit of margin as well and we cannot complain in any way.”
Raffaele Marciello, Driver – No. 89 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It was not the best qualifying for us. It was not easy getting the car just Saturday morning, so for sure we can do better. We do not start in a very good position, but we have tonight to work and to see what we can improve.”
Mikael Grenier, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It’s not easy getting to the Pole Shootout, so Kenny and Martin did very well. We were hoping for the top five, but we didn’t have any tires ready because we didn’t expect to make it to the Pole Shootout. You have to pre-heat them, they were not really hot, so we missed the peak on the tire, but we can still be happy. At the start of the race, we have to stay out of trouble. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is really good on tire degradation, but it’s pretty cold, so I don’t think anyone is going to suffer too much, but normally the long run is really good. We also focused the setup more for the long run than for qualifying because it’s an endurance race. Kenny and Martin did really well last year, we finished third in Pro-Am, and it’s the same thing this year. The Pro-Am victory is the main goal.”