Mercedes-AMG confirms its IMSA program for 2017

Photo: Mercedes-AMG

The long-awaited and expected news that Mercedes-AMG will run in next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship became official on Wednesday, with at least two teams and three cars set to run next year.

Riley Motorsports, which had campaigned the Dodge Viper program through its GTS-R (American Le Mans Series GT and IMSA GT Le Mans) and GT3-R (IMSA GT Daytona) days, will run a two-car effort in GTD.

The longtime pairing of Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen are in the No. 33 AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, and the WeatherTech Racing-backed pairing of Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette in the team’s No. 50 Mercedes. These two have tested at Daytona International Speedway this weekend.

“It’s really an honor to be aligned with AMG,” said AMG-Team Riley Motorsports Team Owner and Director Bill Riley. “The car looks so fast even standing still, and I can’t wait to start running it in anger. I was thinking the other day how many times a Mercedes-Benz has raced at Daytona and I can’t remember once. When I look at it that way, it’s pretty significant to be involved. There’s a lot of new teams in IMSA for 2017 but we are very anxious for the challenges.”

A third program, Kenny Habul’s SunEnergy1 Racing, has also been announced with a third car for IMSA. Additional customer programs would figure to run in the Pirelli World Challenge series.

Mercedes-AMG will be on-site at each race throughout the 2017 race calendar to provide comprehensive technical assistance for all Mercedes-AMG GT3 Customer Sports Teams, which run the naturally-aspirated, 6.3-liter V8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 2017.

The debut of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car for the US market is accompanied by further development of the AMG Customer Sports Program. The focal point of this program is a specifically established technology and logistics center in Mooresville, North Carolina, which ensures a fast and reliable supply of parts and service for all teams in racing in North America. For direct assistance on-site, Mercedes-AMG will send its own service and parts transporter to all IMSA and PWC races.

“Our aspiration for expanding the AMG Customer Sports Program in the US is to provide the same level of comprehensive support that we have provided to teams in Europe for several years. This requires a close collaboration with the teams in terms of know-how and race track expertise, which we are now ideally positioned for. We are very excited for a thrilling and hopefully successful season,” Jochen Bitzer, Director of AMG Customer Sports Program, said in a release.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.