GruppeM Racing's DTM Venture Kicks Off at Monza

  • Successful first session at Monza season-opener for GruppeM
  • Focus on Mercedes-AMG GT3 race prep in hot conditions
  • Kenny Chen: "We are very happy with our consistency"

Monza, Italy - Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing kicked off its debut season in the DTM with a successful first day of practice running at the Monza curtain-raiser.

The Hong Kong-based team and its driver, DTM race winner Daniel Juncadella, focused on the race setup of the #8 Mercedes-AMG GT3 during Friday’s opening 45-minute Free Practice session, which took place in high summer temperatures.

Juncadella appeared at the top of the timing charts early in FP1 with an impressive 1:48.084 effort straight out of the gates. The Mercedes-AMG driver went on to complete 22 laps of the 5.8 km, 11-turn high-speed track to return plenty of data for GruppeM’s crew to analyse ahead of this weekend’s pair of single-driver races.

The early low 1m 48s figure was enough to put Juncadella sixth at the end of the session, setting the Spaniard right at the sharp end of the 19-driver leaderboard.

While that glimpse of outright pace was encouraging, GruppeM Racing’s primary objective on Friday was to perfect its approach and vehicle setup for the DTM’s 50-minute race length. FP1 saw the team achieve this, building on the extensive pre-season testing work carried out at several circuits including Monza.

Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing elected not to take part in Free Practice 2 due to some damage to the car's underside after a brief moment outside track limits. The experienced crew used this time to work on the car and go through its findings from FP1 to be in the best possible position for Saturday’s competitive track action.

After a successful Friday spent running to its own program, the reigning FIA GT World Cup champion squad is confident in its GT3 package heading into its first DTM race.

The opening qualifying session of the 2021 DTM season gets underway at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. Race one is due to start a few hours later at 1:33 p.m. (times CEST).

Kenny Chen: GruppeM Racing Team Owner: "We were very happy with our consistency today. The car was performing very well and the pace was good, working towards our own plans. This was exactly the performance we had hoped for and expected."

Daniel Juncadella, Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing driver: "It was a very good FP1. We focused on doing a long run to see the tyre degradation in the heat. It was very positive. We had very low deg, and performance was very strong compared to our competitors. Monza is a difficult track to set up a GT3 car for because you have very long straights where you want to have a lot of top speed. But on the other hand, you have a few high-speed corners in the second and third sectors. It's a bit of a compromise, but we were testing here a couple of months back so we know where we want to be."