Three Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing Teams to Compete in Season-Opening SprintX Doubleheader in Virginia
Danville, Virginia – Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing teams CRP Racing, Black Swan Racing and MCC Motorsports will compete in the 2017 season-opening weekend of the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX Championship at Virginia International Raceway (VIR), April 28 – 30. Ryan Dalziel and co-driver Daniel Morad will drive the No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the top-level GT Pro division. In the GT Pro/Am division, Tim Pappas and Jeroen Bleekemolen will co-drive the No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, and the father-and-son team of Alexandre Negrao and Alexandre Negrao Sr. will co-drive the No. 92 MCC Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.
A complementary series to the Pirelli World Challenge championship, in which both CRP Racing and Black Swan Racing also compete, SprintX is a 10-race series run over five doubleheader event weekends. SprintX blends the multiple-driver tradition of sports car endurance racing with the excitement of sprint racing, as a driver change is required in each of the weekend’s pair of races.
A further strategy twist requires drivers to swap driving slots for each race. The driver that starts the first race must drive the closing stint in the next day’s race. The driver that closes out the opening race is required to start the second race of each weekend.
The SprintX GT Pro class has two professional drivers in each car. Dalziel, CRP Racing’s full-season GT-class driver in the main Pirelli World Challenge series, will be joined by emerging Canadian talent Morad for the SprintX rounds.
Racing in the GT Pro/Am class, which pairs up a professional with a sportsman driver teammate, Pappas and Bleekemolen reunite at Black Swan. The duo first raced together at Black Swan in 2010, Dutchman Bleekemolen’s first year of competition in the U.S., and were a dominant duo in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GTC division. In 2010 and 2011, the co-drivers won two GTC championships and nine races, including the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
Pappas is Black Swan’s full-season GTA-class driver in the main Pirelli World Challenge series, while Bleekemolen is also a full-season co-driver with Ben Keating at Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Bleekemolen, Keating and their team currently lead the GTD driver and team championship, and Mercedes-AMG leads the GTD manufacturer championship in the IMSA series.
A Brazilian team with a Miami-based U.S. race shop, MCC Motorsports is taking delivery of its new Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the first time on-site at VIR. The senior Negrao has experience in everything from the Stock Car Brazil series to Porsche Supercup and ALMS GT2 competition. The younger Negrao is equally experienced from competition in the FIA GT Championship, GP2, Stock Car Brazil and a 2008 GT1-class start in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
SprintX Round 1 from VIR is scheduled from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. EDT this Saturday, April 29, while Round 2 runs between 1:15 – 2:15 p.m. EDT this Sunday, April 30.
Both 60-minute races will be live streamed on www.world-challenge.com and www.motortrendondemand.com in addition to coverage on the CBS Sports Network in May on a taped-delayed basis.
Ryan Dalziel, Driver – No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I’m really looking forward to VIR. I haven’t been there since the resurfacing, but it sounds like it’s perfect now. I’m excited about the first SprintX race of this season and hoping Daniel and I can get a win. It will be great to finally race our Mercedes-AMG GT3 on a permanent road course after opening the year on two street circuits. We learned a lot about what the Mercedes-AMG GT3 likes at those races, but a true road course should really show what this car can do.”
Daniel Morad, Driver – No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I’m really happy to join CRP for the 2017 SprintX Championship. The past 12 months have been career changing, winning two championships in 2016 and recently winning the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona in the GTD class. I really appreciate the opportunity from Nick Short and the whole team. There were a lot of top drivers in the mix for the seat so it’s a real honor to have been chosen to pursue this exciting challenge. I can’t wait to meet the team and drive the Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the first time at the opening rounds of the SprintX Championship at VIR.”
Tim Pappas, Driver – No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It’s great to have Jeroen back with us. The SprintX format give us a unique opportunity to bring in a second driver for an all-out push to the finish, and Jeroen couldn’t be a better fit. Not only did many of our team’s greatest accomplishments come with him, but he’s had a lot of experience with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and should be able to provide valuable insight. Hopefully we can add another chapter of success to the team.”
Jeroen Bleekemolen, Driver – No. 54 Black Swan Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3: “The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has repeatedly proven to be a great car in categories all over the world, and we hope to have the same success here. SprintX is a unique approach to multi-driver racing, and it should be interesting to compete in an all-out sprint. It’s great to be back with Black Swan Racing. I really appreciate the opportunity from Tim and the whole team. They played an instrumental role in beginning my U.S. career.”
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