INDIANAPOLIS – Mercedes-AMG Team Winward Racing and Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli championship leader Jules Gounon won the pole Friday in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Saturday’s Indianapolis 8 Hour powered by AWS at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Gounon and Mercedes-AMG Team Winward came out on top of quick and close Pole Shootout that featured the top-10 fastest cars from group qualifying earlier on Friday. Gounon co-drives the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the car’s full-season teammates Russell Ward and Philip Ellis in tomorrow’s eight-hour race on the 2.439 mile, 14 turn IMS road course.
Gounon turned in the top lap late in the 15-minute qualifying run and then went even quicker a few minutes later with a new track record time of 1:22.190 to lock down the pole just before the end of the session.
Friday’s pole continues an impressive streak of success for Mercedes-AMG in this year’s Intercontinental GT Challenge season. Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams swept the podium earlier this year at Bathurst in Australia and finished one-two in the Spa 24 Hours in Belgium this summer.
Similar success Saturday, or any combination of finishes ahead of their nearest championship rivals, could see both Mercedes-AMG and one of its drivers leave Indianapolis with the respective Intercontinental GT Challenge manufacturer and driver titles all but wrapped up.
Gounon was a winning co-driver at both Bathurst and Spa and brings a seven-point lead atop the championship standings over his fellow Mercedes-AMG Motorsport driver Daniel Juncadella into the Indy 8 Hour. Juncadella and Raffaele Marciello, who co-drove with Gounon for the Spa victory, compete this weekend at Indy with Daniel Morad in the No. 77 Mercedes-AMG Team Craft-Bamboo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
In other Friday action at Indy, George Kurtz put an exclamation point on his recently clinched championship in the GT America powered by AWS with yet another series win in his No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing with Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Kurtz sealed the GT America crown two weeks ago at Sebring International Raceway and picked up his ninth win of the year for good measure in Friday’s first of two 40-minute sprints on the card this weekend at Indianapolis.
The Indianapolis 8 Hour runs from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday with flag-to-flag livestreaming available on YouTube at the GT World channel and Twitch at SROMotorsports.
Jules Gounon, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It was an amazing job by the team. My co-drivers were also very quick in qualifying earlier, we are a really strong lineup, and I think we are looking very good ahead of the Indianapolis 8 Hour. Pole position is always a nice reward, but the race is very long tomorrow and will be tough. To be representing Mercedes-AMG in the Pole Shootout was a nice feeling, but qualifying is good for the show, and we really want the win tomorrow. It’s like in golf: you drive for the show, and you putt for the money! I hope we can convert this pole into a nice win and memory tomorrow. This is my first race with Winward, and I have been looking forward to working with them. They are a very successful team in here and in Europe.”
Russell Ward, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We are just really proud to be representing the Mercedes-AMG brand in the Pole Shootout. It’s a long race but we really wanted to be on pole for this one. The competition is really stiff, but Jules put down an amazing lap that really shows the performance of the car.”
Philip Ellis, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I think we have a super-strong car, especially in the long run. Jules really nailed a lap today in qualifying. It was great to see. He just got everything out of the Mercedes-AMG GT3. It will be tough tomorrow, but we will just do everything we can with the team. We have great guys for our pit stops and I think some of the best driver lineups in the paddock too with Russell and Jules. We will see what we can do.”