TR3 Racing has been in a “crash course” in coming to grips with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo according to Daniel Morad, ahead of this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS season opener at Sonoma Raceway.
Morad, a Mercedes-AMG affiliated driver, has joined the Florida-based squad amid its switch from Lamborghini to Mercedes-AMG machinery in the top series of SRO America competition.
The Canadian hot shoe, who is making his first full-season GTWC America campaign since 2017, has teamed up with TR3 regular Ziad Ghandour in the No. 9 entry, which will compete for Pro-Am class honors.
With only a two-day test at Sonoma last week prior to unloading on Wednesday at the Californian circuit, Morad said it’s been a whirlwind period for the team in learning the nuances of the front-engined beast.
“It’s a crash course for the team,” Morad told Sportscar365. “The car is completely backwards from what it was at the test [last week].
“Where we were — and you can’t expect much — it’s a team with a new platform. So switching from a Lambo to an AMG is completely [different]. The engine is a different spot. This is a completely different animal.
“The [operating] window is quite large in the AMG to get the setup right.
“You can be pretty far off from the ideal and it’s still reasonable to drive, which is why the AMG platform is so popular, especially in a Pro-Am series.
“It’s just really nice for gentlemen drivers to jump in and go and also for teams with less experience to get the car working OK.”
Despite the tight turnaround for this weekend’s pair of 90-minute races, Morad said he feels like they’re in a solid position to build from.
“I’m happy with where we are,” he said. “In such a short amount of time we’ve taken a huge step forward with the car, so it’s looking good for the year.
“If we maximize our program, we’ll be in the front. We have the right package, the right team, the right drivers. We really just have to focus on ourselves.”
The 32-year-old, who was recently elevated to a Mercedes-AMG ‘expert’ driver, which is one rung from its lineup of full factory ‘performance’ pilots, said he’s been able to quickly fit in with the Romanelli family-run team.
“Since 2017 I’ve been driving the AMG, on and off,” Morad explained. “Through the pre-Evo and now with the Evo, I have a bunch of data that I can bring to the team.
“I know what I like as a driver and what works on tracks in North America, so I can bring that valuable information to them.
“Also just working with Ziad has been really, really nice as well.
“I’m doing a lot of coaching on the side. That’s just as important, in a Pro-Am series, to get your co-driver comfortable and get him up to speed.
“I think just the combination of the experience plus the coaching aspect really helped out.”
Morad, who finished runner-up in the 2017 World Challenge SprintX season in a CRP Racing Mercedes, said he feels fortunate to have secured two full-time drives this year despite his reclassification by the FIA from Silver to Gold driver rating.
“It’s been tough the last few years with COVID, with WRT leaving [IMSA] and not being able to come race here [in 2020], that ruined my one program,” he said. “Then with Alegra on and off and picking and choosing…
“Everyone said the kiss of death is being upgraded to Gold. And I thought, ‘I’d guess I’d focus on my company, Moradness.’ It’s great as it’s my fallback plan, just in case, you never know.
“You get upgraded to Gold and everyone’s like, ‘OK, be prepared to not drive’ and I have a GT4 full season drive with a great team (Winward Racing), one of the best teams in the paddock and then TR3 is another incredible team.
“I should be Platinum at this point!”