Successful kick-off to the 2023 motorsports season at the 24H Dubai. SPS automotive performance claimed a class podium with The Heart of Racing’s #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 right at the start of the year. Ian James (GBR), Gray Newell (USA), Roman de Angelis (CAN) and Ross Gunn (GBR) finished third in the GT3 Pro-Am class in their first outing with a Mercedes-AMG GT3. The German-American collaboration project also set the fastest race lap on the circuit at the Persian Gulf.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 from The Heart of Racing was in action for the first time at the 24H Dubai. SPS automotive performance took care of the car with the starting number 27 for the season opener at the Dubai Autodrome with the entry Heart of Racing by SPS for the US-American team. After successful and productive tests on the desert circuit, the team made its mark in qualifying. In the combined result of the four sessions, the #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished seventh overall, equivalent to the pole position in the GT3 Pro-Am class. Thus, the team from Willsbach had the best preconditions to achieve the first good result of the new season.
Ian James took over the start of the first 24h race of the year 2023. With an eye on the race distance, the Briton avoided all duels for positions in the early stages, but lost a few places as a result. Particularly in the first half of the race, the 24H Dubai was marked by a number of incidents and Code 60 phases. These neutralizations of the race as well as many different strategies of the competitors initially jumbled up the 52-car grid. Through almost faultless and fast stints of all drivers and a smart pit stop tactic, the #27 pushed back to the front during this phase. At the halfway point of the race, the driver quartet re-established itself in the top group of its class, took over a podium position in the night with position three and continuously extended its lead over the chasing pack. In the final quarter of the race, the team launched another attack on the runner-up in class and made up a lot of ground, but the gap to second place was too large to allow them to intervene decisively in the fight for positions. At the end of the 24 hours, final driver Roman de Angelis crossed the finish line in eighth place overall, which ultimately meant third place in the GT3 Pro-Am. With this result, Heart of Racing by SPS also finished as the best Mercedes-AMG car in the overall standings and also set the fastest race lap of all competitors.
After this successful start, SPS automotive performance will start the European motorsport season in spring, when once again some interesting projects will be tackled.
Roman de Angelis, #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We finished the race in P3 in class and in the top ten overall – a great result for SPS and The Heart of Racing at the first appearance with the Mercedes-AMG GT3. I really enjoyed the whole weekend. We worked great together and I’m looking forward to more races this year.”
Ian James, #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “What a race! A podium finish is more than I could have dreamed of at the first race with our new car. But the whole team and also the car was fantastic. It was also important to bring the car home alive. It was a great collaboration between The Heart of Racing and SPS. We look forward to future projects that will hopefully be just as successful.”
Stephan Sohn, team principal SPS automotive performance: “We are very happy with the result. This is the first time we have worked with Heart of Racing. The cooperation was really great. I’m very proud of everyone. We brought the car home without a scratch, set the fastest race lap, scored a podium finish and are the best Mercedes-AMG overall. A great start to the new season.”