After a fantastic comeback Ian James (GBR), Gray Newell (USA) and Roman de Angelis (CAN) in the #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished third overall and took class victory in GT3-AM at the 12H Mugello. After dropping back a few laps at the beginning of the race, the team, named Heart of Racing by SPS, fought their way back impressively and triumphed with a clear lead over their competitors in the GT3-AM category.
Already in qualifying on the picturesquely situated track in Tuscany, it became apparent that the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the starting number 27 was one of the contenders for the top positions at the 12h race in Mugello. In the three qualifying sessions, in which the average lap time of all drivers is evaluated, Ian James, Gray Newell and Roman de Angelis qualified for second place on the grid and thus for pole position in their class.
At the beginning of the first race section on Saturday, starting driver Ian James held his ground in the leading group of the GT3-AM, but with an eye on the long race distance, avoided fighting for positions. However, already in the early stages of the race, there was an incident on the track in which the number 27 car slipped into the gravel trap. As a result, the team lost several laps to the leaders and dropped back a long way in the overall standings. However, the blue Mercedes-AMG GT3 was able to continue the race. With fast and faultless stints by all drivers as well as a clever strategy, the team quickly found its way back to the competition and caught up lap after lap. At the halfway point of the race, James, Newell and de Angelis had closed the lap gap on the GT3-AM class leader and were in third place in their category.
After the restart on Sunday morning, the team continued to make up ground unabated with strong tactics and fast lap times. By the beginning of the final quarter of the race, the #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 had moved to the top of GT3-AM and up to third overall. At the end of the race, final driver Ian James crossed the finish line as both the deserved winner in GT3-AM and the best-placed Mercedes-AMG. This position also meant an excellent third place overall at the 12H Mugello for SPS automotive performance. After third place in the GT3-AM at the 24H Dubai, this result means the second podium finish at the second event in the 24H Series in 2023.
The next outing in the 24H Series will take place in just a few weeks’ time, on 6-7 May, at the 12-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.
Roman de Angelis, #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We are very happy with our result. After being a few laps down at the start, we fought back and got a strong result. Everyone worked hard so we could come back like this. Thanks to the whole team and my teammates. I’m looking forward to being back at Spa.”
Gray Newell, #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We were able to drive a great race today. Unfortunately, we were initially three laps down after my mistake. But everyone did an amazing job to get us back to the front. It’s nice to see that everyone is pulling together, even if someone makes a mistake. Compliments to the whole team.”
Stephan Sohn, Team Principal SPS automotive performance: “A big compliment to the drivers and the whole team. After the incident at the beginning, we were initially behind. But we didn’t give up and fought our way back. Everyone did an incredibly good job and got the maximum out of it. That makes me very proud.”