(Photo: MBUSA/Brian Cleary, bcpix.com)

Riley Motorsports Announces Endurance Drivers

On Tuesday, Riley Motorsports announced their full driver lineup for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.  Full season drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating will be joined by Mario Farnbacher and Adam Christodoulou in the No. 33 Mercedes AMG GT3 (the team’s 2016 Dodge Viper GT3-R is pictured above).

Farnbacher will drive in all four of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races after competing full-time for the past three years for Alex Job Racing-Team Seattle.  However, Alex Job Racing has been silent for the entire off-season.  The team’s No. 22 entry pulled out in August last year due to anger over Balance of Performance (BoP) for the Porsche 911 GT3 R.  The Team Seattle entry for Farnbacher and Alex Riberas stayed for the rest of the season with Farnbacher and Riberas finishing fifth in points.

Farnbacher is happy to have a decent ride lined up for the endurance events.

“I have the [Mobil 1] 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans already on my win list,” Farnbacher stated.  “Still on my bucket list is the win at the Rolex 24 and our main goal of the championship.  I am super proud to be part of this team [since] it is one of the best in the paddock.  Riley Motorsports always has the cars to win, and I am 100 percent sure that the Mercedes-AMG package for 2017 will also be the same winning one from the past.”

Christodoulou, who will join the team for Daytona only, is a British racer who originally started in open wheel racing before transitioning to sports cars in 2010.  He’s currently an AMG Customer Sports driver who mainly races in endurance events for GT3-spec cars.  Christodoulou comes to Daytona after winning the 24 Hours Nürburgring with co-drivers Maro Engel, Bernd Schneider and Manuel Metzger earlier this year.

Christodoulou is happy to be back racing in the United States.

“I’m really looking forwards to coming back to where my GT career first started back in 2010,” Christodoulou said in a press release.  “I’m extremely grateful and honored that Riley [Motorsports] and AMG have entrusted me to be a part of their team.  I’ve been lucky enough to race in the same car as Jeroen [Bleekemolen] before and I know Ben [Keating] and Mario [Farnbacher] are both fast, so I’m really looking forward to working and racing with them.”

Christodoulou has only about a full season of American sports car racing experience.  In 2010, he ran all but the Rolex 24 in a Mazda RX-8 for SpeedSource in the Rolex Series’ GT class.  Christodoulou won at Lime Rock Park with current BMW Team RLL racer John Edwards and had three other podium finishes on his way to a ninth-place finish in points.  Christodoulou’s only Rolex 24 start was in 2011 in SpeedSource’s primary No. 70 Mazda.  He shared with SpeedSource owner Sylvain Tremblay, Edwards and current Mazda regular Jonathan Bomarito to a sixth-place finish.  He has not raced in the United States since 2011.

The full four driver lineup will test together at the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway on Jan. 6-8, 2017.  The team has already completed a couple of tests on the 3.56-mile road course with the new Mercedes AMG GT3, but that will give them a chance to see where they stand among everyone in the GT Daytona class.

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Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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