DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Nov. 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) and Mercedes-AMG announced today that it will compete in North America's premier endurance racing series for the first time. The Mercedes-AMG Customer Sports Program will enter the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech Sports Car Championship with several top teams. For the upcoming 2017 IMSA season, Mercedes-AMG is partnering with the successful Riley Motorsports team, which will campaign two Mercedes-AMG GT3 race cars. One of the team's cars will run with extended AMG assistance as "AMG-Team Riley Motorsports," while the second car will run as WeatherTech Racing, with sponsorship from the series' title sponsor. The AMG Customer Sports team SunEnergy1 Racing will also campaign an AMG GT3 in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
Additional teams are scheduled to announce their intent to race as AMG Customer Sports teams in advance of the 2017 season. 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. With the entry in the popular series, Mercedes-AMG enhances its motorsport presence within the US market. Previously, the Mercedes-AMG brand was successfully represented in the US by private race teams with the SLS AMG GT3 in the Pirelli World Challenge. All AMG Customer Sports teams in the US will race the latest version of the naturally-aspirated, 6.3-liter V8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 2017. Based on the Mercedes-AMG GT S road car, Mercedes-AMG GT3 race cars are competing in the IMSA GT Daytona (GTD) class, which features vehicles built in accordance with international GT3 regulations. The 2017 IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship consists of 12 events that take place between January and October. Among the highlights of the race season are the popular Rolex 24 at Daytona (January 26-29), the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring ( March 15-18) and "Petit Le Mans," which takes place at Road Atlanta ( October 5-7). 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 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Pirelli World Challenge Series races. Dietmar Exler, President and CEO, MBUSA: "We are thrilled to see the three-pointed star compete in North America's premier endurance racing series in 2017. Our Mercedes-AMG GT3 race car has already proven itself in worldwide competition and should quickly become a fan favorite. We are very excited about our prospects for the 2017 racing season." Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management, Mercedes-AMG: " North America is traditionally a very important market for Mercedes-AMG and the enthusiasm for our performance vehicles is tremendous. The high demand for the Mercedes-AMG GT3, particularly after the legendary 1-2-3-4 finish at this year's 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, has inspired us to establish a Customer Sports Program in the US. I'm very much looking forward to cooperating with all of the teams and wish them success in the upcoming season." Jochen Bitzer, Director of AMG Customer Sports Program: "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." For more information on AMG Customer Sports, please visit www.mercedes-amg.com/customersports. Further information from Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Benz USA is available on the Internet: www.media.daimler.com, www.mercedes-benz.com, www.media.mbusa.com and www.mbusa.com. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161108/437223