Today, IMSA announced a multiple-car factory-supported Mercedes-AMG effort in its WeatherTech Sports Car Championship’s GT Daytona class. It looks as if someone, somewhere made nice with the series after the WeatherTech Porsche quit last year, because one of those Mercs sports a WeatherTech livery.
Earlier this year, the GTD-class No. 22 Porsche 911 GT3 R owned by WeatherTech company founder David MacNeil withdrew from the endurance racing series, which has WeatherTech as its title sponsor. The teams that withdrew from races cited concerns over IMSA’s ability to put on a fair race among the different marques.
To stay competitive with the other cars in the pro-am GTD class, the Porsche teams who withdrew from races alleged that they had to make their cars very difficult for their amateur drivers to drive. In other words, David’s son Cooper MacNeil, the amateur driver for the No. 22, probably wasn’t having much fun anymore.
MacNeil the Elder swore the withdrawal of the No. 22 wouldn’t affect WeatherTech’s commitment to sponsoring the series, so I suppose it’s not too surprising to see WeatherTech return on a car—so long as that car isn’t a Porsche 911 GT3 R.
WeatherTech’s latest, greatest foray into car sponsorship is the No. 50 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for 2017, to be driven by Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeanette.
Cooper MacNeil told IMSA of the new Mercedes:
When I first drove the Mercedes at Hockenheim in Germany, I was blown away. I could tell within the first three corners that the car was so well balanced and was an absolute dream to drive.
The No. 50 is part of a two-car effort run by ex-Dodge Viper squad Riley Motorsports. Riley’s other car, the No. 33, will feature drivers Jeroen Bleekemoelen and Ben Keating. Additionally, a third Mercedes-AMG will be run by Kenny Habul’s SunEnergy1 team.
Mercedes, Lexus and Acura have all committed to joining the series next year, which means there will be eight different marques in WTSC. That’s going to be fun.