Silver Arrows Score 1-2 Finish at Suzuka Mercedes-Benz Leads FIA GT Championship Points as CLK-GTRs Dominate in Japan
MONTVALE, N.J. (August 26, 1997) -- Mercedes-Benz swept into the manufacturer's championship lead with its third one-two finish in the last four Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) GT Championship races this past weekend at Suzuka, Japan. Each of three CLK-GTR supercoupes -- the spiritual sibling of Mercedes' soon-to-be-introduced CLK coupe -- took turns leading the 1,000 kilometer race, as the AMG-prepared Mercedes Silver Arrows paced all but three laps of the nearly six-hour contest. Mercedes driver Bernd Schneider moved to within three points of the driver's championship lead, teaming with co-drivers Alessandro Nannini and Marcel Tiemann to take the Suzuka victory. Mercedes-Benz now leads the points standings for manufacturers in two of the world's top motorsports series. In addition to the GT category, Mercedes tops the PPG CART World Series manufacturer's points on the strength of seven wins, five poles and 16 podium finishes in 14 CART races. Klaus Ludwig was the fastest qualifier on the 3.64-mile Suzuka road course, recording the mid-engined, V12-powered CLK-GTR's fourth pole position in this the seventh round of the FIA GT Championship's 11-race inaugural season. The silver Mercedes trio ran one-two-three until just after the halfway point of the race when Alexander Wurz was forced to pit with a broken suspension pull-rod. The team lost three laps to the leaders while repairs were made, but Wurz and guest driver Aguri Suzuki recovered to finish seventh. The team of Schneider, Tiemann and Nannini won by a margin of more than a minute, as the second-place car of Ludwig and Bernd Maylander turned the fastest lap of the race in pursuit. Team AMG-Mercedes travels to England's Donington Park for round eight of the FIA GT Championship, Sept. 14. The GT series will travel to the United States for the two final events of the season at Sebring, Fla (Oct. 19) and Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. (Oct. 26). Mercedes-Benz is the only engine manufacturer to score race victories this season in the PPG CART World Series, Formula One and FIA GT Championships. The current success is a continuation of a Mercedes sporting heritage that dates back more than one hundred years.
FIA GT Manufacturer's Points (Following 7 of 11 Rounds)
1. AMG Mercedes 65 2. Team BMW Motorsport 61 3. Gulf Team Davidoff 29 4. Porsche AG 12 5. Roock Racing 8
FIA GT Driver's Points
1. J.J. Lehto BMW 45 Steve Soper BMW 45 3. Bernd Schneider Mercedes 42 4. Klaus Ludwig Mercedes 28 5. Marcel Tiemann Mercedes 22 A. Nannini Mercedes 22 7. P. H. Raphanel BMW 20 8. B. Maylander Mercedes 16 R. Ravaglia BMW 16 P. Kox BMW 16 11.A. Wurz Mercedes 15
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