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Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams Fourth and Eighth in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Race Saturday at the Detroit Grand Prix

Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Finishes Fourth and SunEnergy1 Racing Leads First 2018 Race Laps in Competitive Mercedes-AMG GT3 Showing in Detroit


Mercedes-AMG Team Riley used a two-pit-stop strategy to score its third top-four finish of the season while SunEnergy1 Racing led the GT Daytona (GTD) field for the first time this year and finished eighth Saturday in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar race at the Detroit Grand Prix.

Ben Keating and co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen raced in the top-five throughout the 100-minute sprint race to finish fourth in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Kenny Habul, who led his first race laps of the season, and Bernd Schneider co-drove the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the eighth-place showing.

Starting sixth on the GTD grid in the No. 33, Keating pulled off at tricky pass for fifth right at the start of the race on the tight, 2.35-mile Detroit Belle Isle street circuit. He was running in the top-five and staying in touch with the class leaders before pitting under caution just 22 minutes into the race.

Mercedes-AMG Team Riley quickly got Keating and the No. 33 out of the pits and back in the race. Keating, who soon cycled his way up to as high as third as the other GTD frontrunners began to pit, brought the No. 33 in for its second and final stop 40 minutes into the race.

Bleekemolen took over, and following another great pit stop by the Mercedes-AMG Team Riley crew, the No. 33 remained in the lead pack after returning to the race. Bleekemolen moved up to fourth early in his stint and successfully defended the position in the race's final hour.

Keating, Bleekemolen and the No. 33 team have now finished fourth or better in three of the year's first four WeatherTech Championship GTD races. The highlights have been a season-best third at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March and the year's first fourth-place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

The solid showing at Detroit also let Keating, Bleekemolen and the No. 33 team maintain third-place in the 2018 WeatherTech GTD driver and team championship standings. With 108 points in both championships, Keating, Bleekemolen and the No. 33 team are 17 points back from the first-place team and drivers and just 14 points shy of the second-place competitors.

Starting ninth in the GTD field, Habul was on pace throughout his opening stint in the SunEnergy1 Racing No. 75. He moved to the front as the GTD field cycled through the pit stops and brought the No. 75 in from the lead for its only stop of the race at the 42-minute mark.

Habul handed the SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 off to sports car racing veteran Schneider, who was making his debut on the Detroit Belle Isle circuit.Schneider set the fastest GTD-class lap of the race halfway through his closing stint but never found an opportunity to advance on the hard-to-pass Detroit circuit, crossing the finish line in eighth.

Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We played the right strategy and had the best race we could have had. I had a really good start, got in front of the fifth-place car, and it gave me a little gap to the guys behind me. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was a little more competitive, we were off the map in the last race at Mid-Ohio, but in Detroit we were competitive. A lot of the cars in the field seem to be in the same range, but this is a bumpy track where the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is at its best. A street circuit like this is about as good as it gets for a track that suits our car, but this was our only street race of the year. The cars on the podium at Detroit seemed to cruise around the competition, so we will see how it plays out the rest of the season."

Jeroen Bleekemolen, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is good on the brakes but it is still hard keeping the competition behind. We practiced our driver change a lot and it worked out really well. We did everything right, we had no mistakes, so it's a little bit frustrating to not be able to take the fight to the leaders. We know each other really well on this team, we figure out together the best way to go into each race, no matter what the performance. This team is really good with strategy, we are all in on the conversation, and for today we came up with what we thought was the right thing to do and it turned out OK."

Bernd Schneider, Driver – No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We started pretty good Friday in practice. I didn't know the track before but after practice I felt quite comfortable. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was really good from the beginning. We made small changes and improved but Kenny was really unlucky to be held up on his fastest lap in qualifying. That meant we started ninth on a track where overtaking is hard. Otherwise, I think we had a really good chance at a top-five finish. The experience and the team effort were very good, but position eight was not what we were aiming for."

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