Dubai (UAE) – Competing as part of its final development and testing programme, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 claimed third place at its first attempt in the 24H Dubai race (13 to 15 January 2011). The gull-winged model vehicle entered by the private Black Falcon team with the starting number 7 was driven by Thomas Jäger (Munich/Germany, age 34) Jan Seyffarth (Querfurth/Germany, 24), Kenneth Heyer (Wegberg/Germany, 31) and Sean Paul Breslin (London/Great Britain, 31). After a total of 594 laps, the Black Falcon team finished four laps behind the winner. The first race for three SLS AMG GT3s in the 2011 motorsport season also marked the completion to schedule of the development and testing programme which began in 2010.
The SLS AMG GT3 competing for Heico Motorsport with starting number 9, with Bernd Schneider (Bottighofen/Switzerland, age 46), Lance David Arnold (Duisburg/Germany, 24), Andreas Wirth (Heidelberg/Germany, 26), Brice Bosi (Luxembourg, 24) and Christiaan Frankenhout (Amsterdam/Netherlands, 28) behind the wheel, took seventh place overall, coming in 18 laps behind the winner.
The second Black Falcon vehicle, driven by Ralf Schall (Dornstadt/Germany, 41), Timothy Pappas (Boston/USA, 37), Bret Curtis (Valencia/USA, 44) and David Horn (Steinbach/Germany, 37), finished 69 laps behind the winner to claim 24th place. The vehicle with the starting number 8 was involved in a collision through no fault of the driver in lap 76. After a break of a good two hours for repairs, the vehicle resumed the race, making good ground with continual good lap times and claiming twelfth place in the final standings for class 6.
The SLS AMG GT3 with the starting number 9 began the race from the seventh starting position. Starting numbers 7 and 8 entered the fray from positions ten and twelve.
"It was a problem-free race for my team mates and myself in the new SLS AMG GT3. Black Falcon did a great job, and the AMG team provided us with first-class support. It was a good team performance overall which was rewarded with a third place that we can be proud of. Achieving a good finish for all three cars at the first attempt was an important affirmation for all those involved," observes Thomas Jäger.
"Our first venture here in the 24H Dubai race went off without any technical problems," notes Bernd Schneider. "We have acquired some important experience and achieved our aim of successfully completing the development and testing programme. With the SLS AMG GT3 we were able to keep pace with the front runners day and night over the long distance. The newly established Heico Motorsport team and my young team mates have done a great job."
"Successfully finishing a 24-hour race with all three cars at the first attempt is a respectable result," says Christoph June, SLS AMG project manager. "The high reliability and the good racing performance show that in the SLS AMG GT3 we have developed an appropriate vehicle for the racing series according to the FIA GT3 rules. Delivery of the customer vehicles to the private teams can now go ahead. Thanks are also due to the HWA headed by Gerhard Ungar for their support throughout the development process."
"The result here in the Dubai 24-hour race proves that our customer sports programme is on the right track for 2011 with the SLS AMG GT3," adds Uli Fritz, head of AMG Customer Sports. "Not only team owners and racing drivers will be able to drive the gull-winged model – AMG customers and fans will also have an opportunity to get to know the car at first hand through the AMG Driving Academy. I would like to thank the two customer teams, Black Falcon and Heico Motorsport, who raced our three vehicles here in Dubai."
24-hour race staged for the sixth time, with 84 vehicles in the line-up
The 24-hour Dubai race was held for the 6th time in 2011 at the 5.39-kilometre Grand Prix circuit of the Dubai Autodrome. Over 350 drivers from 20 nations took part in the long-distance race, competing in a total of 84 cars.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, which has been developed in accordance with the GT3 rules of the FIA worldwide governing body for automobile organisations (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), entered the race in class A6. The gull-winged car found itself up against established rival sports cars among the total of 24 vehicles competing in this class. In this first foray into the world of 24-hour racing, the focus was on ongoing technical development and ensuring the car's stability.
Bernd Schneider and Thomas Jäger have accompanied the SLS AMG GT3 throughout its entire development and testing programme. Schneider is one of the most successful German racing drivers, with five DTM titles, one ITC title and one in the FIA GT championship. Jäger was a DTM driver for Mercedes-Benz from 2000 to 2003. In 2009 he won the championship title in the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany. In 2010 he raced in the ADAC GT Masters (Germany). Like Bernd Schneider, Thomas Jäger belongs to the team of instructors at the AMG Driving Academy. Since 1 October 2010, Jäger has additionally been active as a coordinator for AMG Customer Sports. As the central point of contact he supports the customer teams in all organisational and technical matters.
Ducati logo alludes to partnership started with AMG in 2010
All three SLS AMG GT3s in the 24H Dubai race sported the Ducati logo. The striking Ducati lettering on the rear wings alludes to the partnership which was agreed in November 2010 between Mercedes-AMG GmbH and Ducati Motor
Holding S.p.A. From the next MotoGP season the AMG logo will feature on the fairings of the Ducati Corse MotoGP team's racing motorcycles and on the two riders' leather suits – as Ducati's official car partner, AMG will also be active in the field of MotoGP in 2011. In addition to our joint marketing and sponsoring activities, the two companies are also examining further activities and strategic measures for the near future.
A win and a third place in the VLN races in autumn 2010
As part of the development and test programme launched in June 2010, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 competed in three VLN races organised by the Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenmeisterschaft N ürburgring in the autumn of 2010. Thomas Jäger and Christopher Haase won the ninth VLN race for Black Flacon in the gull-winged model, while Bernd Schneider and Christian Mamerow (Mamerow Racing team) claimed third place overall in the tenth and final race.
Delivery to begin at the end of February 2011, following FIA homologation
The appearance of the three SLS AMG GT3 in the Dubai 24-hour race brought
the development and testing programme to an end as planned. Following homologation and specification of the balance of performance by the FIA worldwide governing body for automobile organisations, delivery of the SLS AMG GT3 will commence at the end of February 2011. The sales price will be € 334,000 Euro (net)/€ 397,460 (incl. 19 % VAT). Production of the customer vehicles began at the end of December 2010.
SLS AMG GT3 integrated into the AMG Driving Academy from the outset
Customers of the AMG Driving Academy will be able to drive the SLS AMG GT3 on the race track themselves at selected events in 2011. The concept provides for the exclusive use of SLS AMG GT3 vehicles for the MASTERS skill level, which
requires the highest standard of driving skills. With these unique events, the AMG Driving Academy is offering an opportunity to experience motor racing at first hand at an unprecedentedly high standard of safety.
Racing version of the gull-winged vehicle in accordance with FIA GT3 near-series rules
The racing version of the gull-winged car is designed as a customer sports car for short- and long-distance races in accordance with the FIA GT3 near-series rules. Lightweight design throughout and optimisation of the chassis, brake system and aerodynamics provide for uncompromising driving dynamics. The maximum power output of the AMG 6.3-litre V8 front-mid engine with dry sump lubrication is specified by the FIA in accordance with the balance of performance. This is intended to ensure a level playing field for the participating racing vehicles. Classification, including stipulation of the vehicle's kerb weight, is to take place in the spring of 2011.
The solution whereby the eight-cylinder engine has been fitted as low as possible as a front-mid engine behind the front axle and combined with a transmission on the rear axle leads to a favourable weight ratio and a low centre of gravity. The transaxle configuration also optimises handling and traction. The six-gear racing transmission is connected to the V8 engine with high bending and torque resistance by means of a torque tube. The lightweight aluminium chassis with double wishbones and the steel racing brake system with racing ABS provide for perfect race circuit performance.
Carbon safety cell ensures exemplary standard of safety
Similarly to in the DTM vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, the seat shell of the SLS AMG GT3 is installed in a safety cell consisting of high-strength carbon (carbon fibre-reinforced plastic). As a result of its special design, the safety cell bolted to the roll cage and the aluminium spaceframe offers markedly improved
protection for the driver's shoulders, hips and legs. It is additionally compatible with the HANS system (Head and Neck Support). The seat shell is provided with an individual foam filling and incorporates a six-point seat belt to ensure superlative occupant safety. Additional safety is provided by the roll cage made of steel, which also further reinforces the aluminium spaceframe.