Connect with us

GT World Challenge Europe

Sky-Tempesta Enlists GruppeM to Run Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo

Former Ferrari team Sky-Tempesta enlists GruppeM to run its new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

Sky-Tempesta Racing has enlisted DTM squad GruppeM Racing to run its new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in the 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS season.

GruppeM staff and equipment are on-site at Imola for this weekend’s Endurance Cup opener and will be present at all of the subsequent long-distance and Sprint Cup events.

British outfit Sky-Tempesta previously fielded a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 with technical support from AF Corse, but has switched to a new operating partner to coincide with its move to a different brand.

The Sky-Tempesta-owned Mercedes chassis will be based at GruppeM Racing’s European facility near Mercedes-AMG’s headquarters in Affalterbach.

GruppeM is owned by Hong Kong-based businessman Kenny Chen, who is also at Imola this weekend. The team is set to run two Mercedes-AMGs in the DTM this year.

Froggatt, Jonathan Hui and Eddie Cheever III are continuing as Sky-Tempesta’s drivers in the new Gold Cup class after Froggatt and Hui won the Pro-Am title last season.

“Even though we’re Sky-Tempesta, we’ve been very open that our engineering is outsourced to who we deem to be best in the business with that car,” Froggatt told Sportscar365.

“It’s no secret that AF Corse are the best at running Ferraris, so it was clear that we had to have a white-label product from them. I’m very confident in GruppeM. I know Kenny very well.

“From their history and how long they’ve run the Mercedes, and with their experience in the DTM last year, they have a lot of programs going on to continue building experience.

“But they have a good platform to start with already. It’s a team of a nice size. AF felt like a family, and GruppeM does as well.

“I like the feeling of everyone working together well: it’s not two parties coming together and clashing. It’s a very easy fusion. That was a big reason why we chose them.”

According to Froggatt, the agreement to run a Mercedes-AMG with GruppeM support was reached in January.

The partnership has since run the car for two days at Portimao and Paul Ricard respectively, the latter for the official GTWC Europe tests.

Froggatt also drove a Mercedes-AMG at Oulton Park last week but with 2 Seas Motorsport, which is set to operate the Sky car at the British GT season-opener.

GruppeM will be back on board for the Silverstone and Brands Hatch rounds of British GT that dovetail the 10-round GTWC Europe program.

Froggatt hopes the Sky-Tempesta/GruppeM association can continue in the long run so that the organizations can tackle the 24 Hours of Le Mans together when GT3 cars become eligible in 2024.

“Kenny has been very supportive of the program,” he said. “On the racing side, he also has the dream of competing at Le Mans. It looks like [the WEC GT class] will essentially be a [GTWC Europe] Gold Cup car, so it’s nice to be working together from now, getting to know each other.

“Having a three-year run up is going to be extremely helpful for when we do get to Le Mans and are able to compete in WEC.

“I think we’ll have a great experience becoming the well-oiled machine we were at the beginning of last year with the Ferrari.

“It takes time for everyone to really bond and become uniform, but I think we’re going to get there. it’s been a good start and we’ve done a bit of testing. It’s already a good foundation.

“GruppeM are successful and our driver lineup is successful, so it should be a good combination. We’re not expecting it to be completely smooth.

“There will be learning curves. But we’re expecting things to progress quickly and we’re willing to put the time in to do it.”

Off-Track Options Gave Mercedes-AMG Appeal

Froggatt said that while it was “hard to step away” from Ferrari after winning GTWC Europe class titles with the 488 in the last two years, he believes the switch to Mercedes-AMG enables Sky-Tempesta to achieve more of its off-track objectives.

The team unveiled its new car at the UK’s Mercedes-Benz World, where Froggatt intends to run a series of ‘masterclass’ days for people wanting to learn advanced driving skills.

He is also planning for Sky-Tempesta to invest in grassroots motorsport by setting up pathways for young drivers to enter GT racing, as well as promoting the sport through other promotional activities.

“A lot of it comes from what we as a team want to do outside of racing, in engaging with our fans, friends and sponsors,” Froggatt said.

“What we can offer outside the motorsport experience, in terms of building a footprint wider than just racing.

“Building a partnership with Mercedes-Benz World to allow people access to driving masterclasses… that was one of the first activities we wanted to look at.

“Then there’s the brand itself: how we can build more alignment from people to the brand that we have.

“I think AMG is a more attainable brand from a public perception. Ferrari is a very aspirational brand, but not so achievable. So it was about aligning ourselves with a brand that is not only aspirational but also one that people can touch.

“For me, it’s not only about racing. It’s also about what impact we can have on the sport.

“When people get involved in driver courses, and they have a very memorable experience and might come to the next race in the UK and get involved with the team there.

“We’re essentially just trying to, at a very ground level, spark interest in the sport that we love. I think this is an interesting way to do that.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

Click to comment

More in GT World Challenge Europe