After more than three decades of racing with Acura, RealTime Racing has switched its GT racing program in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS to the Mercedes-AMG GT3, a decision driven by the desires of the team’s customers and by the level of support that could be offered.
“In the modern era of customer racing, Acura didn’t need to or want to treat us differently than their other customers, but we were still able to compete with Acura products as that evolution occurred,” RealTime Racing team owner Peter Cunningham told RACER. “For 2023, we had an opportunity, but it didn’t include Acura, it included a different brand. Without a viable Acura program materializing it made good sense to do this with a non-Acura product.”
Despite the switch, the team’s relationship with Acura remains in good standing. “We haven’t necessarily left Acura, we just don’t have an Acura program,” Cunningham said.
The decision to compete with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was largely driven by the team’s customer’s desires. One of those is the silver-rated Anthony Bartone who will be driving with the team in GT World Challenge America and GT America this season.
“It’s a big step up from a GT4; however, it’s more confidence-inspiring with the bigger aero, brakes, and tires,” Bartone said. “It’s a more capable car so trying to get up to speed is a little more comfortable with the things the car is able to do.”
Ironically, the transition to Mercedes was aided by the team’s hiatus during the COVID pandemic. With no active program, many of the team’s mechanics were able to find temporary positions with other teams that happened to be using Mercedes equipment. When they returned to RealTime Racing, they brought back the experience they had gained.
“A race car is a race car but actually a number of our guys had experience with the Mercedes GT3, because in 2021 due to COVID RealTime didn’t have an active program and so many of our guys landed on their feet working for another team that ran Mercedes GT3,” Cunningham explained. “So, coming into this season and doing it as RealTime was not a stretch because they already knew the ins and outs of the German product versus the Italian.”