2018 Hankook 24H DUBAI class winner SPS automotive performance will collaborate with America’s Heart of Racing at the 2023 race, and has now confirmed its driver line-up aboard the #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Words – James Gent
Images – SPS automotive performance / Monaco Auto Design / Petr Frýba
SPS automotive performance has confirmed the driver line-up for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 it will enter for the 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI in a collaborative effort with Heart of Racing.
The German team first competed at the Hankook 24H DUBAI in 2015, and having sealed A6-Am victory at the 2018 edition, SPS enjoyed one of its most successful outings at the Dubai Autodrome last year when both of its Mercedes-AMGs finished inside the overall top 10. Impressively, the team’s ‘SunEnergy1’-entered Mercedes finished 3rd overall while SPS’ standalone entry finished 2nd in GT3-AM.
For the 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI, ‘Heart of Racing by SPS’ has now confirmed Heart of Racing team principal Ian James, and team drivers Roman de Angelis, Alex Riberas and Gray Newell – who makes his GT3 debut at the Dubai Autodrome – will compete together aboard the #27 Mercedes. This reunites the American team’s line-up from its event debut in 2022, at which the quartet finished 2nd in GT4 with an Aston Martin Vantage AMR.
While the 18th edition of the Hankook 24H DUBAI marks the first time SPS automotive and Heart of Racing will compete together, SPS team principal Stephan Sohn believes a strong result is conceivable.
“We are very proud to welcome Heart of Racing to our team,” Sohn explains. “In the past, the team has achieved very strong results with other manufacturers and deservedly won the championship in IMSA. Now we are happy to support Heart of Racing in their first steps with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and offer advice and support.
“We have a lot of experience with the Mercedes-AMG cars and also with the race in Dubai, where we were very successful, especially last year. So the omens are good to be able to achieve a good result again.”
“Personally, I love this race and the intensity of everything with so many cars out there,” Ian James continues. “To drive with Gray, Alex, and Roman is so much fun, and the Mercedes is a great car. I hope we can be in the Pro-AM mix come raceday with the support of SPS Automotive Performance.”
Alongside its Hankook 24H DUBAI debut in 2022, Heart of Racing made its 24H SERIES debut just a few months earlier at the 2021 Hankook 24H SEBRING, at which its Aston Martin Vantage AMR was classified 4th in GT4.
Heart of Racing’s racing program will also promote the team’s charitable concerns, which raises awareness of high-quality paediatric care. In 2022, Heart of Racing raised funds for the Seattle Children’s Cardiology Research Fund.