Black Falcon Mercedes SLS SEL 6.8 AMG

Older fans of Mercedes Motorsport know that SEL 6.8 AMG is the name of a legendary race car belonging to more than 40 years ago.

But it’s back on headlines, not because it’s back racing, but because team Black Falcon who race a Mercedes SLS GT3 in this year’s Endurance series decided to revive its memories by painting one of their cars in the same livery as the original race car.

This is the result, and it will be driven at the upcoming 24 hours of Spa by a team of drivers including Kenneth Heyer, Hans Heyer’s son. Hans Heyer is the man who achieved a class victory and overall second place 40 years ago with the original SEL 6.8.

sls SEL 6.8 AMG Livery 2 Black Falcon Mercedes SLS SEL 6.8 AMG

Mercedes press release:

The 40th anniversary on the occasion of the 63rd 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps celebrates the astonishing success achieved in 1971, when the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG won a class victory and second place in the overall ranking on its first outing. The SLS AMG GT3 is being entered by the private team Black Falcon, and is visually reminiscent of the legendary racing touring car that made AMG world-famous overnight. The red paint finish, the start number 35 and the sponsor stickers keep the memory alive, and almost give the two AMG racing cars the appearance of twins.

During the 24-hour race this very special gull-wing car will be driven by Kenneth Heyer (31, Wegberg), Thomas Jäger (34, Munich) and Stéphane Lémeret (37, Ophain-Bois-Seigneur-Isaac, Belgium). Kenneth Heyer has been an active racing driver since 2000, and on this 40th anniversary he is following in the footsteps of his father Hans Heyer, who achieved the sensational 1971 success for AMG with his team colleague Clemens Schickentanz on the same racetrack.

Kenneth Heyer: “It’s a great honour, exactly 40 years after my father’s success, for me to be bringing the Black Falcon SLS AMG GT3 to the starting line of the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps. Together with my team colleagues, I will be trying to achieve at least second place. The car will no doubt attract plenty of attention in the line-up with its look reminiscent of the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG, but naturally the focus will be on a good racing performance. The SLS AMG GT3 has the potential for a place on the winner’s rostrum, but as we all know, a 24-hour race obeys laws of its own.”

Hans Heyer: “40 years after our class victory and second overall place, I think it is a great idea to enter the Spa-Francorchamps race with the SLS AMG GT3 in the same look as “my” 300 SEL 6.8 AMG. Naturally I wish the Black Falcon team and my son Kenneth every success – and will be delighted if he wins at least second place!”

Ola Källenius, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: “This project of entering an SLS AMG GT3 in the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps with the same look as the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG of 1971 deserves a round of applause. I wish Kenneth Heyer, his team colleagues and the Black Falcon customer team every success. Naturally we at Mercedes-AMG also have our fingers firmly crossed for the other private teams who are competing in the race with the SLS AMG GT3. The customer sport programme for the gull-wing, which commenced in 2010, has made a good start, and the SLS AMG GT3 has immediately shown itself to be a racing car with great potential. To date we have sold 35 examples to private teams all over the world.”

Hans Werner Aufrecht, founder of AMG and Chairman of the Supervisory Board at HWA AG: “For me this project is an outstanding example of how passionate commitment to motorsports can manifest itself. It is also impressive to see how AMG has developed 40 years after our second place in the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps in 1971. I have my fingers crossed for Kenneth Heyer, and of course also the other teams who will at the starting line with the SLS AMG GT3.”

In addition to Black Falcon with start number 35, six more SLS AMG GT3s will be competing in Spa-Francorchamps. The teams and drivers are as follows:

  • Koen Wauters (B)/Anthony Kumpen (B)/Mike Hezemans (NL), start number 15, KRK Racing Team Holland (Belgium). The driver duo Kumpen/Hezemans won the 24-hour race in 2009.
  • Raf Vanthoor (B)/Marius Ritskes (NL)/Bernhard Van Oranje (NL)/Dennis Retra (NL), start number 16, KRK-Racing Team Holland (Belgium)
  • Kenneth Heyer (D)/Thomas Jäger (D)/Stéphane Lémeret (B), start number 35, Black Falcon (Germany)
  • David Jones (GB)/Godfrey Jones (GB)/Mike Jordan (GB), start number 90, Preci Spark team (Great Britain)
  • Andrii Lebed (UA)/Bret Curtis (USA)/Peter van de Kolk (NL)/Jeroen van de Heuvel (NL), start number 46, Black Falcon (Germany)
  • Olivier Panis (F)/Nicolas Lapierre (F)/Eric Debard (F)/Grégoire Demoustier (F), start number 54, Graff Racing (France)
  • Philippe Haezebrouck (F)/Massimo Vignali (I)/Gilles Vannelet (F)/Mike Parisy (F), start number 55, Graff Racing (France)

The 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps is one of the classic events in the international long-distance racing calendar. The race was first held in 1924, and until 1978 the 14.8-kilometre course was used. Since 1979 the race has been held on the shorter, 7.0-kilometre course. This tradition-laden circuit in the Belgian Ardennes is the favourite racetrack of many drivers. 70 cars have been entered in this year’s 24-hour race, which comes under the FIA’s GT3 and GT4 rules. 250 drivers will be competing. The race starts at 4 p.m. on 30 July 2011.

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