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Wendl: Mercedes-AMG Chose to Delay GT3 Evo Launch

Mercedes-AMG chose to postpone launch of GT3 Evo until rivals debuted their cars…

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

Mercedes-AMG chose to delay the launch of its GT3 Evo to wait until several of its rival manufacturers released their new cars, according to its head of customer racing Stefan Wendl.

The Affalterbach-based brand revealed its 2020-spec GT3 car at the Nürburgring on Friday ahead of this weekend’s 24-hour race at the ‘Green Hell’.

Wendl explained that the decision to postpone the launch of the new car, rather than debuting in early 2019, was to see how Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini’s new or updated cars fared.

“For two years we have been thinking about when is the right time to put something in place and make something new,” he told Sportscar365.

“Do we bring in a new car or an Evo kit? We have been constantly selling cars and having our cars successfully out on the track, so we delayed it.

“Then there were all the cars coming at the beginning of 2019 with the Evo kits, so we decided to wait a little bit and see how the market and the BoP react.

“We are a little bit more confident with what we need and how we should place the car.”

Updates to the new car, an evolution of the AMG GT3 which debuted in 2016, focus on reducing running costs and protecting vulnerable areas such as the engine and steering.

The brand has already sold 130 examples of the current model, including several orders in recent months.

Wendl says Mercedes-AMG informed recent customers about the new model, and will offer them the chance to purchase an upgrade kit at a reduced price.

“All the customers who bought the car from July 2018 onwards [will be offered a discounted price]. This is something to attract those customers who decided to go to the brand – we want to keep them and make them happy.”

He expects some teams to simply purchase the upgrade kit while others are more likely to buy new cars.

“We could possibly have all kinds of customers,” he said. “We have sold cars each year, so I think there is quite a high number of cars around which is quite old.

“That’s why we expected some teams to change to a new generation of car. But there will also be a high number of teams that owns fresh cars. I think it will be mixed, but we will see.”

Pre-Homologation Race Debut Soon

Wendl hinted that the car could make its debut in the next couple of months, most likely in VLN or Creventic competition, similar to how Porsche debuted its new 911 GT3 R last year.

The official debut will come early next year, either at the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai in mid January or Rolex 24 at Daytona two weeks later.

“We will debut earlier [than 2020],” Wendl confirmed. “We will go into a race series which allows it, like VLN SP-X, to get more test mileage under race conditions.

“This is where the car was made for and this is where we learn the most.

“You will for sure see the car running earlier running with our test drivers and in customer hands to get the best possible feedback, but the official homologation is earliest on January 1, so our goal is to make it ready for Dubai and Daytona.

“We are working on [finding a debut event] until yesterday, we were still in discussions with race series to find the right environment to do it. It’s an ongoing process.

“If you take an unhomologated car, what is the BoP for it? We want to race and face the conditions with a huge amount of cars to get pickups, slipstreams and all those things.

“We want to have a tough track to test the car, also over 24 hours, but we also need a proper BoP to be able to test it. That’s why discussions are ongoing.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake

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