Mikael Grenier said he’s happy to be making a cameo appearance in Winward Racing’s Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS program this weekend amid a busy summer schedule in both Europe and North America in Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo machinery.
The 28-year-old Silver-rated Canadian (pictured above, right) is subbing for Winward’s GTWC America regular Phillip Ellis, who is taking part in the Nürburgring 24 this weekend.
Grenier, who competed against Winward in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona aboard a SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes, has joined the Texas-based crew for the first time as part of an extension of his involvement with the team in Europe.
Ellis, Grenier and Russell Ward make up Winward’s Silver Cup lineup in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup this year and currently sit seventh in the highly competitive championship following their most recent round last weekend at Paul Ricard.
“Our main program is in Europe for GT World Challenge Endurance Cup,” Grenier told Sportscar365. “It feels a bit strange.
“In Daytona we didn’t like Winward so much because we were quite close to them at the end of 24 hours. It was a nice race and in the end they did a better job than us, especially in the pits.
“So it’s great to drive for them at the moment.”
Grenier said he was brought into the Winward fold this year largely due to his experience in Europe.
“I’ve been racing in Europe for the last five years so I know the tracks there very well,” he said.
“Russell was looking for a Silver with experience there. We also have Philip Ellis with us, who is really good as well. I think we’re a really nice team.
“Europe has been my life for the last five years. I’m happy to keep racing there. Russell is doing very well as well.”
While integrating with a nearly entirely different crew at Virginia International Raceway, other than their engineer, who is part of both the GTWC Europe and America programs, Grenier said there hasn’t been many challenges so far in coming to grips with the Rolex 24 at Daytona class-winning outfit.
“For the communication this is quite easy,” he said. “Then we can try to improve a bit here. That was the goal, also to get more seat time together before Spa.
“It’s an American crew but it’s a nice team and they do a very good job.”
This weekend marks Grenier’s return to VIR for the first time since his Formula BMW Americas days in 2008.
“I think [VIR] is a really nice track for GT3 because we have quite a lot of downforce,” he said. “The esses are quite easy flat, but it’s very quick so it’s a very nice feeling.
“So far the AMG is not too bad here so we hope to have a good race.”
Grenier has a busy scheduled ahead as he’s slated to rejoin Kenny Habul in SunEnergy1’s Mercedes in next weekend’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race in Detroit, as well as the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, all while preparing for the Total 24 Hours of Spa with Winward.
“It’s a lot of traveling, especially with COVID, it’s not always easy, but it’s fine,” he said. “It’s better like this than to stay home.
“We have Detroit, then after that we have the test at Spa, then Watkins Glen and then the 24 Hours of Spa, which is my favorite race of the year.
“Hopefully we can do well [at Spa]. Russell knows the track well.”
Ryan Myrehn contributed to this report