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Old 04-06-2011, 10:40 AM
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Lightbulb Podium finishes for Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Ford Focus BTCC at race debuts

Filed under: Motorsports, Europe, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, UK, Racing

SLS AMG GT3 and Ford Focus touring car make their race debut - Click either image for high-res gallery

Teething pains are normal when developing a race car. Save for series like Formula One where every team is starting with a new car at the beginning of each season, it's to be expected that a new race car will face some difficulties when competing in its first race. That's what makes this past weekend's results so extraordinary.

Instead of being relegated to the garage with mechanical troubles, as you might expect from a new racing machine, both the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and the Ford Focus touring car scored podium finishes on their race debuts this past weekend.

The race-prepped neo-gullwing finished third overall and first in the GT3 class at the opening round of the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Championship, fielded by the Black Falcon team. A second SLS followed in fourth place overall, with another two finishing 7th and 19th. The series consists of ten endurance races, all competed around a combination of the Nordschleife and Grand Prix circuits at the Nürburgring, and this race marked the first time that the SLS GT3, having completed its testing phase, was fielded entirely by privateers with no factory support. BMW claimed victory with a one-two finish in the M3 GT, while the Pininfarina P4/5 failed to complete the race.

The Ford triumph, meanwhile, came in the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship. As we reported recently, the BTCC is benefiting from a large field of competition that's unprecedented in size, but the new Focus surmounted the odds by cementing a third-place finish in the first of three races on the Indy configuration at Brands Hatch. Tom Chilton scored that podium finish in the "Global Ford Focus" racer while Andy Neate finished 11th in the second car, and while neither fared as well in the second or third races (finishing 11/12 and 8/15 respectively), that they finished each race at all was an accomplishment in and of itself for the new Focus and for Team AON which fielded them.

The checkered flags in the first two races went to Fifth Gear presenter and defending series champion Jason Plato in the Chevrolet Cruze, with two-time former BTCC champ Matt Neal taking the win in the third race behind the wheel of the Honda Civic. Press releases after the jump.

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 race debut ?? VLN Nurburgring

Gallery: Ford Focus BTCC race debut ?? Brands Hatch

[Sources: Mercedes-Benz, Team AON]Continue reading Podium finishes for Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Ford Focus BTCC at race debuts

Podium finishes for Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Ford Focus BTCC at race debuts originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 06 Apr 2011 10:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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04-06-2011 11:30 AM

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