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Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports and Drivers Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz Sweep Second-Consecutive Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup Championships at Motul Petit Le Mans

In total, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing teams came to Petit Le Mans leading five different IMSA championships and successfully claimed all five


Mercedes-AMG, Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Luca Stolz and Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports successfully defended their Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC) Championships Saturday, winning for the second-consecutive year the TPNAEC GT Daytona (GTD) manufacturer, driver and team titles in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

After sweeping all three TPNAEC GTD Championships last year in the debut season of competition for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, Mercedes-AMG and the No. 33 team and drivers once again returned to the Road Atlanta finale this week leading the TPNAEC standings.

Keating, Bleekemolen, Stolz and the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 team brought a two- point lead in the driver and team standings to Petit Le Mans. Mercedes-AMG was locked in an even tighter race, leading the manufacturer battle by a single point over the second-place competitor and two points clear of third place going into the finale.

Throughout Saturday's fast-paced 10-hour race, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley split its focus on the overall GTD race win and maximizing TPNAEC points at the four- and eight-hour marks. Bleekemolen and Keating both led the GTD class during their respective stints, and the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was up front and leading to earn maximum points at hour four.

The hour four "win" proved to be just the push the No. 33 needed to clinch the driver and team titles at the eight-hour mark. From there, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley quickly shifted its attention to helping Mercedes-AMG seal its second-straight TPNAEC manufacturer title.

It wasn't decided until the final lap of the race, but when Bleekemolen brought the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 across the finish line in eighth place, it was just enough for Mercedes-AMG to clinch the title by a single point, 41 – 40, over the second- place competitor.

The No. 33 team and drivers won their TPNAEC titles by three points over the GTD runners-up, 40 – 37.

The TPNAEC is a four-round title bout within the overall WeatherTech Championship that awards the top performers in the year's four major endurance races. In addition to the title-clinching performance at Road Atlanta on Saturday, the No. 33 Mercedes- AMG GT3 team and drivers finished fourth in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, third in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March and fifth in this summer's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen.

The No. 33 team and drivers also finished third in GTD points in the full-season IMSA WeatherTech Championship standings, earning eight top-five finishes in the year's 11 races. The highlights were a victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July and a second third-place finish last month at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to go along with the Sebring showing.

The second Mercedes-AMG Motorsport Customer Racing entry in the field at Petit Le Mans this weekend was the No. 71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. Making its GTD debut this year in the TPNAEC, team owner and driver JC Perez was joined for the first time at Petit Le Man by co-drivers Felipe Fraga and Mercedes-AMG driver Maximilian "Maxi" Buhk.

After running out of the top-10 in the race's early stages, and later surviving an early- evening bump-and-spin incident, the No. 71 team persevered to a season-best seventh-place finish that was the team's first top-10 GTD result.

In total, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing teams came to Petit Le Mans leading five different IMSA championships and successfully clinched them all.

In addition to the TPNAEC GTD sweep, Team TGM and co-drivers Hugh Plumb and Owen Trinkler won the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series team and driver championships in Friday's season-ending two-hour race in the No. 46 TeamTGM Mercedes-AMG GT4. The championships are the first for the Mercedes- AMG GT4 in the car's first year of competition in North America.

Stefan Wendl, Head of Mercedes-AMG Motorsports Customer Racing: "Congratulations to Riley Motorsports and TeamTGM. Winning the IMSA North American Endurance Cup for the second time in a row is an incredibly strong performance by Riley Motorsports. The team and the drivers again have done an excellent job throughout the season and really have deserved the title in a thrilling finale. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the Mercedes-AMG GT4 have convinced throughout the season, particularly with impressive reliability and a flexible strategic adaptation. Be it a fast lap in qualifying or consistency and fuel-saving on the long distance, the cars provide a suitable concept to be successful at every race track and in every kind of weather condition. Team TGM was able to complete all of the races and every lap of the season and didn't have a single retirement. Together, with excellent tactics and a top performance by the team as well as the drivers, they have also secured the maiden titles for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in North America."

Ben Keating, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was really good this year. The field is pretty well balanced, it's pretty close, and we felt we were competitive at most races. I came into this weekend with a lot of confidence, but some minor issues in qualifying reminded me of how difficult it is to secure a championship at the end of the day. All it takes is one incident, your fault or not, and it can all be over. I am really proud of the whole team and how the entire day went, the entire year actually. We were in control of our own destiny to a certain extent in this race and leading at the four-hour mark really helped. Even though we weren't in the top three at eight hours, we were still able to clinch the championships. It would have been fun to win the overall race, but luckily we did strong enough at the first three endurance races. Even though its only four races, it is 52 hours of racing and 12 different 'mini races' and segments in the TPNAEC. You have to pay attention to each and every one of those segments to win this championship."

Jeroen Bleekemolen, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We had another very solid season. We ended up third in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship standings and have managed to win the North American Endurance Cup once again. This TPNAEC means a lot to us as you score points at different times during the race and strategy is playing a major role. The team executed it perfectly and has done a really good job. Winning the TPNAEC championship for the second year in a row is super and made 2018 a great season for us. It is always great being able to drive the Mercedes-AMG GT3 on all these cool tracks in North America. Hopefully next year we can improve a position or two in the big one."

Luca Stolz, Driver – No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "The IMSA race series is quite different from European race series, but it really is great fun. I have enjoyed racing together with Ben and Jeroen and the team has done an outstanding job. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was the most reliable car in the field, which has helped us a lot and eventually secured us the North American Endurance Cup championship as well."

Maximilian Buhk, Driver – No. 71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3: "The race was good. Initially, we were having some problems and dropped back two laps. Then, getting us back onto the lead lap with one-and-a-half hours remaining was a strong performance. We had good speed, we were one of the fastest GTD cars in the field, and the team and my colleagues have shown a great performance. I had a lot of fun in my first race in the U.S. and I am very happy."

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