With an outstanding performance in the two final races of the Asian Le Mans Series at Yas Marina Circuit, Valentin Pierburg (GER), Ian Loggie (GBR) and Mikaël Grenier (CAN) claimed the GT-AM championship in the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Two exciting and dramatic final races were very demanding for team and drivers, but finally the Willsbach-based team prevailed against the competition.
The cornerstone for this success was already laid in the two qualifying sessions for the two four-hour races. Mikaël Grenier set the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 on pole position in the GT-AM class for both races of the weekend, providing an ideal grid position for the championship decider.
The key scene of the first race already came on lap one, where the team initially suffered a setback. Ian Loggie, who had taken over the starting stint, was touched by a competitor and forced into a spin. The Scotsman initially had to let the entire field pass before he could resume his drive. Thanks to a strategy that had been changed as a result of this incident and a strong recovery, the black Mercedes-AMG GT3 was already back in the top group of its class after one hour of racing. Several incidents on the track subsequently caused a 30-minute race interruption, which again thwarted the team’s tactics. Valentin Pierburg swapped into the Mercedes-AMG GT3 shortly after the restart and again had to accept a gap to his competitors. Mikaël Grenier, who took over the #20 in the closing stint, fought his way back to the podium positions with a strong final spurt and was almost within striking distance of the leader before the race was flagged off at the end of the four-hour distance. However, with this runner-up position, the Willsbach-based team defended its lead in the GT-AM standings ahead of the crucial final race.
The fourth and final race of the Asian Le Mans Series also provided some drama and was again marked by several Full Corse Yellow and Safety Car phases. After a good start by Ian Loggie, he had to serve a drive-through penalty due to a jump start, which set the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 back once again. However, a strong run by Loggie pushed the team back to the front of the GT-AM class until the first pit stop. Valentin Pierburg continued to defend the overall lead during his stint in second class position. Mikaël Grenier took his seat again in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the final phase of the race. The Canadian increased his lead over his direct championship rivals lap by lap. In the final phase, Grenier took the lead in the GT-AM category after a safety car period shortly after the restart. About half an hour before the end of the race, Grenier pitted again for the final stop, which caused him to relinquish the lead. The Canadian fought for the top position in class until the last minute, but took no more risks and crossed the finish line in second place in GT-AM. This second place secured him and his teammates the championship title in the GT-AM class of the Asian Le Mans Series.
After the successful conclusion of the winter season in the Middle East with a championship, overall podiums and class wins, SPS automotive performance will now prepare for the European season.
Mikaël Grenier, #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I am very happy we were able to take the title. The team and my driver mates did a great job. It wasn’t easy this weekend, but I think we deserved to prevail.”
Stephan Sohn, Team Principal SPS automotive performance: “Unbelievable. I can’t really believe it yet. We arrived as championship leaders but had to fight to the end to bring the title home. But the team and the drivers did an incredibly good job and really deserved it.”