Riley Mercedes doubles up at Encore

November 12, 2019

Riley Mercedes doubles up at Encore

November 12, 2019

Forty 7 Motorsports captured the overall win in Sunday’s Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore and in LMP3.

Meanwhile Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports swept both GT3 and GT4. The GT4 win was fairly straightforward, while the GT3 win relied on a tire strategy play.

STRATEGIC TIRE PLAY PAYS OFF FOR RILEY IN GT3

Bill Riley’s team’s 2020 season is off to an early, strong start. The team’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 and GT4s, respectively, swept the two GT class races.

The GT3 battle was intense all race between the four cars entered. A blanket covered all of the No. 74 Mercedes, the No. 48 Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo and No. 16 Wright and No. 54 Black Swan Porsche 911 GT3 Rs.

Encore, IMSA, Sebring International Raceway, Sebring FL, November 2019. (Photo by Brian Cleary/BCPix.com for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports)

Riley’s team made a key strategic call to vault to the front. The team took two left side MICHELIN(R) Pilot(R) Sport GT tires on its last stop. That brought them forward from third to first. It ensured Lawson Aschenbach and Gar Robinson, who ran a partial season this year with the Lone Star Racing team, won on debut with Riley’s team ahead of 2020.

“For me, this year ended at Road Atlanta, so this is really part of the new 2020 season,” Riley explained.

“To get something going in our first race for the 74 car, and with Lawson and Gar, it really couldn’t have gone much better. Then, to see Dylan and Jim drive like that, I just thought that was great. Jim drove an awesome opening stint, just like Gar, and it was a super solid start for both teams for 2020.

“We definitely had fast pit stops all day. Tyler Hook, Chris Miller and I called a two-tire strategy from our pit for the 74 to bring it up to the front. I thought that was the play of the race in my eyes. On top of that, we had the Mercedes-AMG reliability. Both cars just ran like clockwork all day.”

PAIR OF PORSCHES ON PODIUM; PAUL MILLER PACE UNREWARDED
Orange juice podium selfies are a thing, apparently. Photo: Michelin North America

Wright Motorsports was second with team veteran Jan Heylen joined by Ryan Hardwick and Max Root making their first runs in a Porsche. Black Swan was third with returning driver Tim Pappas sharing the car with Spencer Pumpelly and Marc Miller. Paul Miller’s weekend pace and time up front – Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow combined to lead a class-high 49 laps after scoring the pole – wasn’t rewarded with the result.

MURRY, COX CLAIM ANOTHER FOUR-HOUR RACE WIN
Encore, IMSA, Sebring International Raceway, Sebring FL, November 2019. (Photo by Brian Cleary/BCPix.com for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports)

GT4 was more straightforward. Dylan Murry and Jim Cox led 90 of 99 laps as the only car without an issue in the four-car class in their No. 35 Mercedes. They also won the most recent four-hour race they entered, the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race at Watkins Glen in late June.

No. 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4. (Photo by Brian Cleary/BCPix.com for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports)

CarBahn’s Sameer Gandhi and Tom Dyer were second in their No. 93 Audi, with PF Racing securing both its first IMSA pole and podium in third after rallying back from a brake issue. Jade Buford, James Pesek and Shane Lewis shared the “50 shades of pink” No. 40 Ford.

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