SPS automotive performance, with its drivers Valentin Pierburg and Fabian Schiller (both GER) in the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Team Germany, won the silver medal in the GT Cup at the FIA Motorsport Games at Circuit Paul Ricard. Luca Stolz (GER), who started for Germany in the highly-competitive GT Sprint Cup, narrowly missed out on a medal in fourth place. The #54 Team Suisse Mercedes-AMG GT3, which was also run by the Willsbach-based team, also performed admirably. Dexter Müller and Yannick Mettler (both SUI) finished fifth in the GT Cup. Mettler, who also started in the GT Sprint Cup, ended that competition in the top ten.
The German team showed in the two one-hour qualifying races for the GT Cup, in which each car was shared by a bronze and a silver driver, that it would be a challenging for medals over the course of the weekend. Valentin Pierburg and Fabian Schiller emphatically won both races to secure pole position for the all-important main race on Saturday afternoon. At the start of the main race, which also lasted 60 minutes, Pierburg was initially passed by a number of stronger silver drivers, slotting into fifth place overall after the early stages. As soon as the pit stop window opened, Pierburg came into the pits and handed the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 over to team-mate Schiller. Once all the mandatory pit stops had been completed, the black, red and gold Mercedes-AMG GT3 was running third. Schiller launched an incredible fightback during his stint. The youngster from the Rhineland region of Germany produced the fastest laps of the race to eat up a deficit of 30 seconds and trailed the leaders by just four seconds going into the closing stages of the race. Everything pointed towards Schiller using his pace to take the lead in the closing laps. However, with roughly five minutes of the race remaining, the safety car appeared and the race was neutralised. That brought Schiller’s fightback to an abrupt end. The #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 crossed the finish line behind the safety car in second place to earn the silver medal for Team Germany.
Dexter Müller and Yannick Mettler, who started for Team Suisse, once again showed their comeback qualities – just as they had done during last season’s International GT Open. Having been the innocent party in a number of contacts during the qualifying races, the duo initially dropped back through the field. However, they battled their way back into the leading group and secured a fine fifth place on the grid for the main race. When the main race got underway, it was a familiar story: start driver Müller was again embroiled in many battles in the midfield, losing positions through collisions with rival cars – through no fault of his own – and initially dropping out of the top ten. However, the #54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 regained several positions with Müller still at the wheel, before he came in for the mandatory pit stop and handed over to Mettler. Mettler continued where his team-mate had left off, fighting his way back into the leading group. Come the end of the race, Mettler crossed the finish line in fifth place to secure a more than respectable result for the Swiss team.
On Sunday, Luca Stolz lined up for the German team in the GT Sprint competition, which featured just one one-hour race. Stolz qualified third as the best Mercedes-AMG driver, putting himself in a good position to challenge for a medal. After a turbulent start to the race, with many contacts and changes of position, Stolz slotted into fifth place. He spent long stretches of the race scrapping for position in the leading group and, after a lengthy battle, finally managed to take fourth place with 20 minutes remaining. Stolz produced some fast lap times in the closing stages, as he looked to close the gap to the cars in the medal positions. However, that gap had grown too large whilst he was fighting for fourth place, and he was ultimately unable to have a say in the battle for the podium. Stolz eventually finished fourth, again as the best-placed Mercedes-AMG driver.
Mettler was back at the wheel for the Swiss team in this ultra-competitive discipline. Starting from eleventh on the grid, Mettler found himself up against some of the best GT drivers in the world. Mettler made up ground on the opening lap and was running eighth in the early stages. The Swiss strived to defend his position in some lengthy battles, but was eventually unable to stop a number of rivals from passing him. After an hour of racing, the #54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 ended the final race of the FIA Motorsport Games in tenth place.
As the best-placed team with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 and one medal to its name, SPS automotive performance can look back positively on the weekend. However, the season is not yet over for the Willsbach-based team, which next heads to the finale of the Intercontinental GT Challenge at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in December.
Yannick Mettler, Team Suisse, #54 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “At first we had to get used to the Pirelli tires, on which we had no experience. But the learning curve was quite steep and things went better and better for us, although we weren’t quite as happy with the pace on these tires. We can live very well with fifth place in the GT Cup. In the sprint race I was initially in P8, but had to give up this position again due to a small problem. Nevertheless, it was a lot of fun. We definitely want to come back.”
Luca Stolz, Team Germany, #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “We had a good qualifying and were quite happy with P3. Unfortunately, I had contact at the start and lost two places as a result. After that, I couldn’t get past the car in front of me for a very long time, even though I was clearly faster. That ultimately cost us a better position. Nevertheless, many thanks to the whole team. A mega job from everyone.”
Stephan Sohn, team principal SPS automotive performance: “Firstly, I would like to thank our team and the drivers, who once again did a super job. We were a little disappointed with second place yesterday. Without the safety car at the end of the race, we would have had a realistic chance of winning the gold medal. We were also a bit unfortunate in today’s GT Sprint, but held our own in the high-class field. Thank you to the German and Swiss motorsport federations for this opportunity. I believe we represented both nations well.”