Winward Racing has joined forces with HTP Motorsport for a two-car Mercedes-AMG GT4 effort in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge next year.
The Houston-based organization, which had raced a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in conjunction with CJ Wilson Racing this season, has formed a new alliance with the Blancpain GT Series championship-winning squad, which will kick off with next month’s 24 Hours of COTA.
The team, to be known as Winward/HTP Motorsport, has entered a Mercedes at COTA for Winward regulars Damien Faulkner and Russell Ward alongside HTP’s Maxi Gotz and Dutchman Indy Dontije.
Mercedes-AMG factory driver Bernd Schneider, meanwhile, is likely to join the team for an additional end-of-year outing at the Thunderhill 25 Hours in December.
It adds up to 49 hours of racing between the two enduros, which the team will use in preparation for a two-car, factory assisted Continental Tire Challenge program in 2018.
“The partnership between CJ Wilson Racing and Winward Racing was a great success and we thank CJ Wilson Racing for all they have done for us throughout the season,” said team principal Bryce Ward.
“HTP Motorsport is the best in the business in Europe. We will draw on its experience, helping us to us to further develop as a championship contending team.”
Winward will rely on engineering support from HTP, which will bring a number of staff from Germany to the events. It will mark the team’s foray into North American racing.
“This new project in the USA means another big step in the development of our team,” said HTP team boss Norbert Bruckner.
“I am excited to have a strong partner like Winward Racing at our side, who have knowledge of the both the country and the racing series. I am sure Winward and HTP will create a formidable partnership and a team that can’t be ignored.”
Faulkner, who has played an instrumental role in managing Winward’s program, raced for HTP in selected Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup races this year.
“Having raced with HTP in Europe this year, I got to experience not only how great a team it is, but also the brilliant product that Mercedes AMG produces,” he said.
“The opportunity to do two, twice-round-the-clock events in the all new AMG GT4 in the “off season” should be a value of immeasurable proportion for Winward.
“It should allow us to hit the ground sprinting at Daytona in January when our 2018 season begins.”
The team’s full-season Continental Tire Challenge lineups have yet to be announced but will feature both Faulkner and Ward.
Massive Interest in Mercedes-AMG GT4
Mercedes-AMG GT4 entries in the Continental Tire Challenge could reach into the double-digits next year, with a significant level of interest in the new car for North America.
It’s understood both newly crowned GS champions RS1, as well as ST title winners Murillo Racing will be among the teams making the switch to Mercedes next year, alongside at least one entry from Riley Motorsports.
Other teams are also likely to run the twin-turbo V8-powered car, which made its competition debut earlier this year.
“You can expect more than ten cars [in the U.S.],” AMG Chairman Tobais Moers told Sportscar365. “We are limited always when you start production.
“We actually discussed, we’ll deliver the first cars before the Roar [in Decmeber].”