On Wednesday, Winward Racing announced that they have joined forces with Blancpain GT Series regulars HTP Motorsport to field two Mercedes-AMG GT4s in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in 2018. Russell Ward and Damien Faulkner, who shared the No. 35 Porsche pictured above for CJ Wilson Racing this year, will drive one of the cars.
The new Mercedes-AMG GT4 has not raced in the United States as of yet. The Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport program has entered one car in the upcoming 24H COTA in November. For that race, Faulkner and Ward will be joined by Maximilian Götz and Indy Dontje. Note that the 24H COTA is sanctioned by Creventic and is not tied into IMSA in any way. In December, the team will race in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill out in California. For that race, former Formula One racer and DTM champion Bernd Schneider will join the driver lineup.
For Faulkner, he’s looking forward to the new deal.
“The partnership is extremely exciting. Having raced with HTP in Europe this year, I got to experience not only how great a team it is, but also the brilliant product that Mercedes AMG produces,” Faulkner stated. “The opportunity to do two, twice-round-the-clock events in the all new AMG GT4 in the “off season” should be a value of immeasurable proportion for Winward. It should allow us to hit the ground sprinting at Daytona in January when our 2018 season begins.”
There is no word on who will drive the second Mercedes-AMG GT4. However, Team Principal Bryce Ward notes some potential for that second seat.
“HTP Motorsport is the best in the business in Europe. We will draw on its experience, helping us to us to further develop as a championship contending team,” Bryce Ward stated. “The Winward/HTP agreement will open up opportunities for European drivers in US events and it could also give US drivers the opportunity to compete in Europe under the Winward/HTP banner.”
For 2017, HTP Motorsport lists 15 drivers that competed for them in various series. As noted above, Faulkner is one of them. So is part-time IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver Mike Skeen. They also include Schneider, former Verizon IndyCar Series driver Franck Perera and a number of stars in the Blancpain GT Series such as Maximilian Buhk. Under current IMSA rules, both Buhk and Götz are ineligible to compete in CTSC because they are platinum-rated drivers. However, the other 13 drivers are either gold or silver-rated. As a result, they would be eligible to race.