Rain chaos in Dubai brings successful progress with new Mercedes-AMG GT3 to a premature halt

SPS automotive performance concludes the season opener, the Dubai 24-hour race, in seventh place overall. However, the competition debut of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the hands of the team from Willsbach, Germany, and the successful progress from 13thplace on the grid came to a premature halt as a result of the rain chaos in Dubai: too heavy downpours were the reason the race was interrupted after a little over seven hours. As rain continued throughout the night and the entire pitlane was flooded, it was decided not to continue the race and the organiser used the order at the time of the interruption as the classification. As a result, team principal Stephan Sohn has a mixed verdict: “As we aren’t contesting the full 24H Series season, we are considering Dubai as an initial season test, during which we already were able to achieve significant progress with the new car. However, it is obvious that we would have liked some more time for testing and to complete the full race distance, but that was beyond our control.”

  • Seventh place overall in rain chaos during 24H Dubai
  • Successful competition debut with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3
  • High-class race series on the SPS calendar for 2020

Dubai – SPS automotive performance ranked among the first teams worldwide to take delivery of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 and it had the honour of running the car for its competition debut during the Dubai 24 Hours. The focus was on completing as many laps of testing as possible and to get a better understanding of the new car from Affalterbach. In the first practice sessions, the mechanics and the driver quartet with the team’s two regular drivers Valentin Pierburg (GER) and Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) as well as Lance David Arnold (GER) and Dominik Baumann (AUT) still had to sort out some things on the car. However, after qualifying with 13thplace on the grid, things were to go considerably better from the start of the Dubai 24 Hours onwards.

Starting driver Valentin Pierburg having completed an early pit stop after the first few laps, the team started its progress. In still dry conditions, the car with starting number 10 moved up into the top ten. As the first rain set in some three and a half hours into the race with Dominik Baumann behind the wheel, the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 showed its strengths. As the race went on, there were repeated rain showers after which the track dried out again each time. The team and the drivers dealt with the weather conditions in a perfect way and made up three further positions to seventh place, until the race had to be interrupted at 22.17 hrs local time as a result of too heavy rain, bringing the team’s progress to a halt.A longer break until the morning hours didn’t bring any improvements. Quite the opposite, in fact, as large parts of the pit lane and the track were flooded, preventing continuation of the race. Eventually, the SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 was classified seventh of the 68 participants in total, the car’s position at the time of the interruption of the race.

Following the positive competition debut of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Dubai, team principal Stephan Sohn is looking forward with anticipation to the following races of the 2020 season. Final details still have to be sorted, but with GT World Challenge, GT Open, Le Mans Series and selected rounds of the Intercontinental GT Series, the programme definitely includes high-class race series.

Stephan Sohn, team principal SPS automotive performance: “First and foremost, the Dubai 24 Hours was a test race for us to further familiarise ourselves with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 and to prepare for the upcoming season. After we had used the first test sessions to get a better understanding of the car and we only managed to secure 13thplace in qualifying, things were going considerably better during the race. Therefore, we would have loved to complete the full distance and we preferably would have had another practice day as well. But all in all, we were able to make significant progress, which is making us positive for the upcoming assignments. We are still in the final planning process for the 2020 season, but I can already say that, with GT World Challenge, GT Open, Le Mans Series and selected rounds of the Intercontinental GT Challenge, we can look forward to a really thrilling season.”

Dominik Baumann: “The first race of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 went well, even though we had hoped for a little bit more than 13th place in qualifying. In the race, however, we were soon able to move up to tenth in the dry. As the rain set in, the GT3 was running even better and we made up further positions, all the way up to seventh. Too bad that the race was stopped. I reckon that we could have made up some more. And we could have done with every further lap as test time for the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. But at the end of the day, you have to accept that the race was stopped. A normal race wouldn’t have been possible anymore for safety reasons.”