Tales from the paddock – Luca Stolz: “We proved last year that we are a race-winning trio”

10.
April 2019
Stuttgart

Ahead of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup season opener this weekend in Monza, Luca Stolz talks about his prospects and ambitions for 2019.

  • This is what happened: Results and facts
  • News from the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport teams
  • Three questions for Luca Stolz
  • Social media news: What’s new online?

This is what happened: Results and facts

  • Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia: Alessio Picariello and Jeffrey Lee win the first race in Sepang ahead of runners-up Gabriele Piana and MG Choi
  • Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia: P3 finish in Race 2 puts Christina Nielsen and Darryl O’Young on the podium

News snippets

Shanghai, here we come: When Shanghai International Circuit hosts the Chinese Grand Prix this coming weekend, Formula 1 will pass another milestone, namely its 1,000th race. Mercedes travel to China with a brace of one-two victories from the first two races of the season. The team registered four consecutive wins in Shanghai between 2014 and 2017: three times with Lewis Hamilton (2014, 2015, 2017) and once with Nico Rosberg (2016). In qualifying, the team even managed to secure six successive pole positions between 2012 and 2017. Lewis started from grid position 1 on four occasions, while on the other two it was Nico who led the field away. Shanghai was where the 2016 world champion scored his maiden Grand Prix victory in the 2012 season. Drivers of Mercedes-powered cars have won eight times on the Shanghai International Circuit since the inaugural Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2004 – more than any other manufacturer.

Successful start to the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia: An overall victory, a class win and other class podiums were among the results coming in from the first Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia race weekend of 2019 at the Sepang International Circuit. Overall victory in the first race was secured by the pairing of Alessio Picariello (BEL) and Jeffrey Lee (TPE) in the number 88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 fielded by Craft Bamboo Racing. The Solite Indigo Racing duo of Gabriele Piana (ITA) and MG Choi (KOR) in the number 97 Mercedes-AMG GT3 were close behind in second place, which also brought victory in the GT3S class. Other podium finishers included Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahim and Jazeman Jaafar (both MAS) of Triple Eight Race Engineering with second place in the GT3PA class, as well as the Craft Bamboo Racing partnership of Darryl O’Young (HKG) and Christina Nielsen (DEN) who came third in the GT3S class. There was also double cause for celebration in the GT4AM class where Brian Lee (TPE) and Tony Fong Wai Shing (HKG) at the wheel of the number Mercedes-AMG GT4 entered by GTO Racing with TTR finished in second place. The number 111 car of Team iRACE.Win driven by Ringo Chong (SIN) and Setiawan Santoso (INA) rounded off a strong all-round result with third place.

In the second race of the weekend, it was again Craft Bamboo Racing who ensured a podium finish, with Nielsen and O’Young in the number 99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 crossing the finish line in overall third place (second in class). Frank Yu (HKG) and Jean-Marc Merlin (FRA) in the number 77 Mercedes-AMG GT4 fielded by Craft Bamboo Racing also made a podium appearance for second place in their class. Third again were Chong and Santoso of Team iRACE.Win.

Preview Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup: Mercedes-AMG Motorsport embarks on a new Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup campaign this weekend in the season opener at Monza in Italy (12 - 14 April). After multiple title successes in 2018 – a grand total of eight – the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach is back with a strong squad for the 2019 Blancpain GT Series. The driver line-up includes the victorious trio of Yelmer Buurman (NED), Maro Engel (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER). Also Nico Bastian (GER, overall and Sprint Silver Cup winner) and Lewis Williamson (GBR, winner of Endurance Cup Pro-Am Driver) will be aiming to add more trophies to their cabinets. Raffaele Marciello (ITA) takes his place in another of the eight Mercedes-AMG GT3 that will be competing in the season opener; at Monza, the reigning champion of the Blancpain GT Series will begin the defence of his title in the overall standings.

Three questions for Luca Stolz

Luca Stolz made his big breakthrough as a racing driver in 2018. Last year, he provided impressive evidence of his strength in endurance racing, securing class victory in the Suzuka 10 Hours and the driver and team titles in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. The 23-year-old is now aiming to get his title defence in the Blancpain GT Series off to a good start in the first fixture of the 2019 season at Monza next weekend (12th - 14th April).

Although you are only 23 years of age, you already have approximately six years of experience driving Mercedes-AMG cars, first in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and subsequently in the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Starting this season, you are under exclusive contract to Mercedes-AMG. How much does that mean to you?

Luca Stolz: It’s an honour to be competing all around the world for Mercedes-AMG. Between my stints in the SLS AMG GT3 and the Mercedes-AMG GT3, I had a brief spell driving for the opposition. But especially over the course of the last year, I think it’s become apparent which car suits me best. I’m really pleased that Mercedes-AMG have signed me up to drive exclusively for them. I hope I can live up to their expectations.

What are your personal objectives for this season?

Luca Stolz: In 2019, I definitely want to build on my success last year. The highlight of the season for me will be the ADAC TOTAL 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. On the one hand, it is my home track, and on the other, it is also by far the most challenging race on the calendar. Last year we ended up on the podium in P3, so a win there would mean a lot to me.

As defending champion in the Endurance Cup, you’ll be competing in all ten rounds of the Blancpain GT Series this year, including the sprint races of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. What are your feelings ahead of the season opener at Monza next weekend?

Luca Stolz: I’m really happy that I’ll be contesting all ten rounds of the Blancpain GT Series with Maro Engel as co-driver. In the five Endurance races, we’ll be sharing the cockpit with Yelmer Buurman. We proved last year that we are a race-winning trio, and we intend to prove it again this year. The five sprint races are extremely competitive, going flat out for one hour on both the Saturday and the Sunday. You can’t afford to make a single error here; even the pit stop at the halfway stage, which calls for the fastest possible change of driver and tyres, can be decisive in the outcome of the race.

Social Media News

#PurePitWall: Prior to the third round of the season in China, our Technical Director James Allison answered fans’ questions about the 2019 Bahrain Grand Prix, including why Lewis opted for soft tyres in the second stint and whether the team was thinking about a one-stop strategy.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkOZoxN9iwM

#EpsonSavesEnergy: Save energy! Five-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton goes head to head with 12-year-old Isaiah to show how important it is to save energy with Business Inkjet.

Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID9rFu8-oFM

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    12h Bathurst 2019 - Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour - Intercontinental GT Challenge Round 1 Foto: Gruppe C Photography; #76 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Mercedes-AMG Team Craft Bamboo Black Falcon: Luca Stolz
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