16 November 2016Rollcentre first to enter new-gen Mercedes-AMG GT3 in British GT
Rollcentre first to enter new-gen Mercedes-AMG GT3 in British GT
Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing have become the first team to enter a new-generation Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the British GT Championship full-time after Richard Neary and Martin Short confirmed they would be returning for a second season together in 2017.
The Am/Am pairing ran a BMW Z4 GT3 during their maiden campaign together but have reconfirmed their commitment to the championship by purchasing a brand new car, which debuted in 2016, direct from AMG in Germany.
Indeed, the much newer Mercedes-AMG proved its credentials by winning the Blancpain GT Series and Nurburgring 24 Hours in its maiden season. A brace of Black Falcon-run AMG GT3s also finished third and fourth during one-off British GT appearances at Spa-Francorchamps, but Neary and Short will be the first drivers to campaign one full-time domestically.
It will also be the first full-season Mercedes entry since RAM Racing’s Alistair MacKinnon and Lewis Plato competed with the older-specification AMG SLS GT3 throughout 2015.
“I served my apprenticeship in 2016 and next year we’re aiming for better results,” said Neary. “The BMW was already four years old when we bought it and the difference between it and the newer generation cars was immediately apparent. But with the Merc we’ll definitely be in with a shout. It’s not especially powerful but the brakes and aero are a big step forward. Every aspect feels like an improvement.
“Martin has a lot of prototype experience and we did look at other championships but I love the GT3 cars and British GT in general. I remember going to Oulton many years ago, and probably watching Martin actually, but also being captivated by the GTs. So there was a big personal draw to come back and do ourselves justice. We certainly have unfinished business.”
Short explained that Rollcentre has been keen on the Merc for some time, and that recent testing confirmed his and Neary’s initial thoughts.
“It’s one of the latest cars and proved its credentials in Europe last season,” he said. “We were able to have a good look at it when Black Falcon joined British GT at Spa. It was immediately clear how good the build quality and AMG customer service was, and then following it on track gave us an idea of how well it handles. That was very apparent when Richard and I tested one at Hockenheim eight weeks ago. It’s the best GT car I’ve ever driven and should be well suited to British circuits.”
Neary and Short are the first all-Am crew to sign up for British GT in 2017. However, the latter sees no reason why they shouldn’t be mixing it with the Pro/Am contingent.
“Maybe there’s a perception that, as an Am/Am pairing, we’re content to make up the numbers, but that’s not the case at all,” said Short. “I think the Z4 masked our potential last season; for whatever reason we just weren’t comfortable with it.
“Investing in a new-generation GT3 car shows our commitment but also the belief that, in the right circumstances, we can spring a surprise or two. Richard is a very good Am – one of the best in fact – and exceptional in the wet, and I gained a lot of confidence from testing the Mercedes in Germany. We know we’re better than last season’s results suggest and are really up for it. We don’t expect to be winning races but want to do well and will be disappointed if we don’t.”
Asked about his aim for 2017, Neary replied (not entirely tongue-in-cheek): “To win the championship!”
Doing so, as an all-Am crew, would represent the greatest achievement in British GT history…
Look out for further British GT3 announcements later this week.
Oulton Park hosts the opening round of the 2017 British GT Championship on April 15 & 17.
Photo and article: British GT