Mercedes-AMG made its long-anticipated debut in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in last month’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, with three of its new-for-2016 GT3 contenders, including the No. 33 Riley Team AMG entry, which scored a podium finish in the GT Daytona class.
With at least one additional entry expected in the WeatherTech Championship this year from Lone Star Racing, and up to five entries set for Pirelli World Challenge, the German manufacturer is set for a large-scale effort in North America this year.
Sportscar365 caught up with AMG Chairman Tobias Moers to get his thoughts on the effort and look to the manufacturer’s potential growth.
Why bring the Mercedes-AMG GT3 into the U.S. market now?
“It was always the strategy to bring [the car to] the U.S.; that was part of the plan. But in 2016, we had a lot of things to do. It was the rollout in Europe, so we had to provide all of the cars and we had a limited amount of production.
“We had to fulfill our pipeline in Europe and we had some past SLS customers in Asia and Australia [too]. So we fulfilled that and it was always part of the strategy to come in 2017, to be present in the U.S.
“We started discussions with IMSA one-and-a-half years ago. And everything’s been in line with our strategy [since].”
Do you have a target for customer car sales in North America?
“No. We’ll see what happens. We know that everybody’s talking about our car. We were approached by several potential customers.
“We’ve set up our spare parts program, together with Multimatic, so we have the support on our side, both in PWC and in IMSA. So we’ll be supporting them in every race. I think this is key.”
With the car already having a proven track record, does that give you more confidence heading into your first season in IMSA?
“Absolutely. The car is already proven in the Nürburgring 24, in Spa… everywhere. It’s s durable car so I’m looking forward.”
The majority of SLS AMG GT3 customers have upgraded to the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Are you pleased to see the majority of teams remain with the brand?
“We had teams running an SLS, move to another brand and then come back. Everybody’s happy with the car.
“The drivability is outstanding and it’s not too peaky. I’ve seen it all the time, when teams come to Hockenheim to test the car, they’re always so appreciative.
“That’s the key of that car’s success.”
Are you still looking at a potential DPi program?
“No. We were approached about the engine. Everybody knows the 6.2-liter is a durable engine.
“We never had detailed discussions about [doing a full DPi]. Never say never, but there’s nothing in the plans right now.”