Racing Spirit of Lemans Le Mans Cup endeavours turn into a recovery drive after a great start to their Spa weekend

Racing Spirit of Lemans Le Mans Cup endeavours turn into a recovery drive after a great start to their Spa weekend


The penultimate round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup Series from Spa Francorchamps turned into something of an extraordinary event after countless Safety Car and Full Course Yellow interventions turned the otherwise one hour fifty-minute race into a half hour dash to the flag.

Before that however, drama was never too far away as the #10 Racing Spirit of Leman Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 of Arnold Robin and Valentin Hasse-Clot controlled the class pace during yesterday’s Free Practice 1 and Bronze Driver Collective test sessions before finishing mid table after the second Free Practice.

Going into todays Qualifying session very optimistic of a good starting position, Robin was one of the first out of pit lane for the GT3 class’s fifteen-minute session only for yet another LMC session to be red flagged on the first lap.

Holding old pit lane whilst a GT3 car was recovered, the #10 was unable to power up again once the session had gone back to green forcing team mechanics to push the car back uphill to its garage for closer attention. Eventually, the car was restarted whoever, it was too late for Robin to post a competitive lap time so the #10 would have to start from the rear of the grid having been granted permission by Race Control to participate.

Compounding the issue was the fact that Pro driver Hasse-Clot also needed to start the race whereas his stills were ideally needed for the end of the race. Like so many sessions before it, the race also came under the immediate need of a Safety Car as several LMP3 cars tangled at the first corner which allowed the #10 car to pit and swap over to the Am driver of Robin without losing ground to the pack. The only question was whether the team had done what was required to complete their mandatory timed stop of driver change, refuel and tyre change?

Back to green but less than two laps later saw further contact between two LMP3 car that allowed other GT3 crews to complete the same switch (if chosen) as many had already started with their Am’s. More racing time lost to another clean up exercise, but things were already not looking great for the Spirit of Leman strategy as by then, minimum driver time for a starting Am had now been passed.

As most of the grid pitted with just over an hour remaining, the #10 car lead not just their class by also the race but they still needed to swap back to Hasse-Clot under what would soon be green flag running conditions. Five minutes later and the #10 car pitted, travelling agonisingly slowly along pit lane so that Robin could also fulfil his own minimum driver time before Hasse-Clot climbed aboard.

Back to green but then straight back to another Safety Car with another LMP3 off with barrier damage too saw the race clock count down still further but with the #10 car still at the back of the pack. Back to green and back again to another Safety Car – things were starting to get a little tedious for all watching on as by the fix, just short of twenty minutes remained.

Despite a further FCY for a GT3 having suffered a blow out later, Hasse Clot had just nine minutes to haul the #10 car up the order which he did as each lap passed the Aston Martin Racing Vantage rose up the timing screen.

Running out of time, the #10 car eventually finished P5 in class to at least recover what will become valuable Championship points come the final race of the season from Portimao next month – a fine achievement considering where they found themselves during Qualifying earlier today.
Saturday, September 23, 2023 |
A quick run-down of the remaining AMR action this weekend from around the world

A quick run-down of the remaining AMR action this weekend from around the world


Three further race meetings see out this weekend’s motorsport programme for mainstream Aston Martin Racing customer and partner teams with the German NLS series running third eight round at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, the GT Open Series at Monza and the GT world Challenge Asia Series seeing out their 2023 season at Sepang.

Starting farthest out to us in Malaysia sees the SRO sanctioned GT World Challenge Asia complete it six round season this weekend at the Sepang International with the Japanese based D’Station Racing branching out into this non-Japan Cup round in readiness for their racing commitments later this season.

Missing out again on the GT3 Japan Cup Championship, team boss Satoshi Hoshino and team manager Tomonobu Fujii will be back out again for this weekend’s two-hour long races with their #47 car amongst the thirty strong entry list. With no championship progress in mind, this weekend will be all about data and set up ahead of the team’s return to the circuit with the Asian Le Mans Series in early December.

In Italy, we have the GT Open Series running its penultimate round of the season around the ‘Temple of Speed’ with the Belgium based Street Art Racing team again being the sole AMR representative within that GT3 series with their #007 car of Pascal Bachman and Jahid Fazal Karim.

Running within the Am class, their ad-hoc approach to the season has left them well clear of any championship hopes with these events used as more of a stepping stone for their two amateur drivers with Karim only having stepped up to GT3 this season.

In a change to any usual running, despite Monza being a double header with their sister GT Open Cup Series for GT4 based cars, the team’s AMR Vantage GT4 will not be in attendance this weekend.

Finally, we have the eight running of the Nurburgring Langstrecken Serie around the infamous Nordschleife circuit in Germany where both the Prosport Racing and Doer Motorsport teams will be back for some more after their class success last time out at the Red Bull 6Hr double header.

Today’s entry list confirms that the #17 Pro-Am entered Prosport Racing AMR Vantage GT3 will be driven by Maxime Dumarey and Marek Bockmann with the #24 Doer AMR Vantage GT3 Pro class entered car will this time be driven by both Phil and Ben Dorr with the company of AMR factory driver Darren Turner again.

Prosport Racing compliment their GT3 entry with just one Vantage GT4 this time around as their #176 car will be driven by Guido Dumarey and Celia Martin.

Photo credit – Teams / Series / E Metzner 
Wednesday, September 20, 2023 |
Two AMR Vantage GT4 crews still in class contention as the FFSA GT4 Series reaches Ledenon

Two AMR Vantage GT4 crews still in class contention as the FFSA GT4 Series reaches Ledenon


Continuing another thoroughly busy racing weekend this time around sees the French national FFSA GT4 Series reconvene at the Circuit de Ledenon for (again) their penultimate round of the season.

Having started the season with up to nine Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 crews, this weekend’s double header will see ‘just’ six of those return but at least this time around, two of these crews remain within their class championship title contention.

The only team to have run two cars throughout the whole season sees the Racing Spirit of Leman team have each of their #74 and #92 crews in contention of the Am and Silver classes respectively. Ronald Basso and Clement, who were a new pairing for this season presently lie just thirty-eight points behind their class leader and with one hundred points still available over this and the finale at Paul Ricard in just three weeks’ time – anything is possible.

It's a similar position for their #92 Silver crew of Victor Weyrich and Mateo Villagomez who have taken being stuck in the gravel at the first round through to being fifty-one points behind their respective class leader, with the same number of points still available.

These crews will be joined by the #6 Mirage Racing crew of Yves Lemaitre/Vincent Beltoise, the #39 GPA Racing crew of Baudouin Detout/Tom Verdier plus two entries from the AGS Events Racing team for both Nicolas Gomar/Mike Parisy and Didier Dumaine/Christophe Carriere to complete the twenty-nine-car entry.

As usual, both races will be streamed live via the series social media channels.

Photo credits – Teams / Series
Tuesday, September 19, 2023 |
Spa Francorchamps all set for ELMS and Le Mans Cup this weekend

Spa Francorchamps all set for ELMS and Le Mans Cup this weekend


Lots of series are now getting to the end of the season with both the European Le Mans Series and supporting Michelin Le Mans Cup Series are perhaps the exceptions.

Having started in Barcelona, then across to Paul Ricard and then back to Aragon last time out, the forty-two entries of the ELMS and thirty-nine cars of the Le Mans Cup Series will both be back in action this weekend from the infamous Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

With this weekends round and then two back to back rounds still to come in Portugal, the three Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE’s of the ELMS are sadly effectively out of championship contention (although mathematically possible) but for the sole Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 within the Le Mans Cup, they certainly still has everything to race for!

No changes aboard the three Vantage GTE runners this weekend as the venerable platform sadly counts down to its last visit to Spa as a mainstream chassis but with its replacement presently under test this week somewhere in Spain, there are still good times to look forward to.

John Hartshorne, Jonny Adam and Ben Tuck lead the AMR trio within the GTE Champiosnhip, presently standing in twelfth place in their #95 TF Sport prepared car having failed to score for the first time this season last time in the heat of Aragon. Much cooler and perhaps even wet conditions in Belgium across the weekend will certainly help to spice everything up within the LMP2, LMP3 and GTE grid.

The #72 TF Sport Aston Martin GTE of Max and Arnold Robin with Valentin Hasse Clot alongside stand below them in P14 having endured a very difficult start to their short GTE career this season, something that started with a first lap crash and elimination in Barcelona. Since then, something could have been on for them at Paul Ricard before late contact put that hope to bed before also struggling in the heat of Aragon.

Finally, there is the #44 GMB Motorsport AMR of Jens Moller, Gustav Birch and Nicki Thiim – a team who have probably suffered the most with both younger and novice drivers suffering with incident and accident along the way both in this series and at Le Mans itself.

They will come into this round with certainly nothing to lose and with a Pro driver already seat ready after his secretive two-day test with the factory team as they continue to develop this evolution of the Vantage platform in time for next season.

The more ‘spirited’ news comes with the #10 Racing Spirit of Leman Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 of Arnold Robin and Valentin Hasse Clot as the French duo maintained a slender lead at the top of the GT3 Drivers Champiosnhip after they managed to secure a P3 in class finish at Aragon.

With two lower place finishes over the course of the Road to Le Mans races in June blighting their otherwise podium-based record, the remaining races at both Spa and Portimao will need to be on their best form if they are to stop the #86 Porsche and #51 Ferrari from snatching that top prize from them at the death.

The circuit of Spa Francorchamps can be difficult enough for some at the best of times so the autumnal weather within the Ardennes will be pivotable to the success (or failure) for both grids going into race day on Saturday for the Le Mans Cup and Sunday for the ELMS.

Photo credits – Teams / Series / A Lofthouse
Tuesday, September 19, 2023 |
Another twelve Aston Martins compete at SRO Americas trip to Sebring this weekend

Another twelve Aston Martins compete at SRO Americas trip to Sebring this weekend


IMSA one weekend, SRO America the next – that pendulum that continues to swing this weekend coming at the latter prepares to embark upon its own penultimate round of the season from Sebring.

Returning to Florida with its GT America, GT4 America and GT World Challenge America Series, their collective provisional entry lists indicate a potential twelve Aston Martin Racing powered entries due to take part.

Within the GT3 only GT World Challenge America Series, the #007 The Racers Group AMR Vantage returns with Derek DeBoer again at the wheel but this time with Ross Gunn alongside for company. Having started the season with the team, Gunn’s place has been taken by Valentin Hasse-Clot over recent rounds but the Frenchman’s double driving duty at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium within the ELMS and Le Mans Cup Series precludes his further participation.

Presently sitting fifth in their Pro-Am Championship table, DeBoer remains just thirty points in arrears to the leading crew and with three races remaining, still well within the championship hunt.

Jason Bell returns to the GT4 America Series again this weekend with Michael Cooper aboard their #2 Flying Lizard car as Bell looks to the Pro-Am series for assistance in him recovering his former crown within the solo driven GT America Series. He is joined by stablemate Elias Sabo and Andy Lee aboard the #8 Flying Lizard car, a pairing who’s recent series success has seen a late Pro-Am Team Championship charge up to P2 with still four races remaining.

Ross Chouest and Aaron Povoledo have certainly had something of a mixed bag this season after a strong start to now sometimes faltering when the championship chances needed them to be strong, but whilst the site within thirty-nine points of the lead team – never say never!!

The two Heart of Racing cars of Gray Newell/Roman De Angelis within the #24 Pro-Am car and Hannah Grisham and Rhianna O’Meara-Hunt aboard the #26 Am classed car complete the entry within this series. Sadly for these guys, their outlaying championship hopes have already disappeared.

That leaves the solo driven AMR Vantage GT4 crews within the GT America Series to finalise this weekend’s SRO America line ups, and here we see another six-car entry from the AMR stable from the Flying Lizard, Heart of Racing, TRG, Chouest Povoledo and Archangel teams.

Within the GT4 class, there are four Aston Martin powered drivers featuring within the top five in class with Jason Bell having recovered the lead from that of Ross Chouest by the nearest of margins (four points).

Competitive all season, the #2 and #50 will be at loggerheads again this weekend if each get their way but both need to be wary of a Porsche driver close behind them in third who would be all too keen to pick up the pieces going into the final round.

The 38 Flying Lizard car of Elias Sabo and the #25 Heart car of Gray Newell will also be present, neither fearful of mixing it with those up front as errors along the way have seen their championship hopes already fade.

Series newcomers Tim Savage and Scott Blind complement the AMR line up with their TRG (Prosport Competition) and Archangel (Ruckus Racing) entries. Two P4 finishes last time out for Blind in his first GT America event and five points finishes out of his six races so far this season prove that Savage is building his abilities up for maybe a full season entry next season too.

As usual, all six races across the three series will be streamed live via the applicable social media pages.

Photo credits – Teams / Series / social media
Monday, September 18, 2023 |
Another podium gained but championships lost for Heart of Racing in IMSA

Another podium gained but championships lost for Heart of Racing in IMSA


Yesterday’s penultimate round of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship proved itself to be another successful one for the three Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTD crews that entered, but the return to good results has come a little too late for one.

Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the weekend again saw both Heart of Racing crews compete along that of the Andretti Autosport AMR amongst the forty-eight strong, five class grid of the American series.

Free Practice one again saw both the #27 Heart car of Roman De Angelis / Marco Sorenson and the #94 Andretti car of Jared Andretti / Gabby Chaves apparently struggle with set up and pace whilst the #23 Heart car of Ross Gunn / Alex Riberas appeared equally underwhelming. That didn’t change much as the grid progressed through Free Practice two.

Qualifying again saw the #23 car of Riberas continue with its P4 in GTD Pro class positioning whilst the #27 car of De Angelis did at least hold onto a higher place during the early laps of the session to eventually qualifying in P6. Andretti meanwhile was qualified P14, presumably hoping that he would make it through to the end of his stint for the first time this season.

Going into yesterday’s two hours forty-minute race became something of a scrappy affair for the prototypes up front as contact at turn 1/lap 1 brought out an early Safety Car for debris with everyone losing ten minutes of race time to that clean up exercise.

The early laps saw an amateur driver leading the entire GTD Pro and GTD field on pace alone as the BMW M4 GT3 again showed off its dominance but whilst the prototypes grabbed all the camera angles, both Heart cars had moved up to P4 within both of their respected classes.

With just over forty minutes gone, both Heart cars pitted for the first time with De Angelis just taking fuel and tyres whilst the #23 did the same and swapped out Riberas for Gunn. That move also came just before another FCY as a P2 car was left broadside across the track at the final corner onto the start straight.

Despite that car being able to get going again, the race would be neutralised for an incredible twenty-five minutes as Race Control toyed with the overall running order and wave arounds! During that time the #94 Andretti car had also pitted for full service and a driver change that allowed Chaves to run her first actual laps of her brief AMR powered season so far having seen the car eliminated from the race in the early stages during their two previous showings.

Once the race went back to green however, the benefit of pitting before the Safety Car became truly apparent for the Heart team as both cars elevated themselves up to P2 for the #23 car and P1 in GTD for the #27. The #94 would however, just retain their previous P12 position.

As the race encroached into its final hour, the #23 car of Gunn had slipped back to P3 in GTD Pro but was at least still in visual range of the car in front with a healthy gap to the car behind whilst the #27 car (now with Sorenson aboard) slipped down to P4 but with tighter gaps front and rear but with many cars playing the championship long game, it was clear that the GTD Pro leading Lexus would not be challenging Gunn too hard for the final step of the podium this time around.

Eventually the chequered flag fell, and it was another P2 podium for the #23 car of Gunn and Riberas whilst the #27 car was unable to haul themselves back up beyond their P4 running position. The #94 would also finish their first IMSA race for a credible P12 position.

Championship wise, it’s all a bit too late for the Heart team in both GTD Pro and GTD as the points deficit for each crew within the overall Champiosnhip standing as well as the Sprint Cup for the #27 car all too great now to overcome with the points still available.

Photo credits – Team / social media / J Price Photo
Monday, September 18, 2023 |
Not AMR powered teams day again at IMS for Michelin Pilot Challenges penultimate 4hr round

Not AMR powered teams day again at IMS for Michelin Pilot Challenges penultimate 4hr round


Last nights extended IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series event from Indianapolis Motor Speedway sadly proved itself not to be the one for any of the four Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 powered teams despite their promising start during Qualifying.

With both the #19 Van Der Steur of Austin McCusker and the #88 Archangel car of Billy Johnson starting from the second row of the grid and another (#46 Team TGM of Hugh Plumb) for yesterday’s four hour long, penultimate round of the season, the race sadly saw more indiscipline, incident and accident that eventually put paid to their chances.

Despite the threat of rain, it was a good start from all concerned as the Johnson quickly moved up to second overall with both McCusker and Plumb battling between themselves for P5 and P6 but as the race settled, the #88 car would drop one place but would run comfortably between the pair in front and the group battling behind.

An early incident for the fourth Aston of Ted Giovanis aboard the #64 car saw him pushed wide into turn 1 only to return to the track just as those who pushed him wide collided with the overall race leaders also passing by at the same time.

With everything otherwise running smoothly, just half an hour in saw the #46 TGM car tapped into a spin by the #95 BMW and whilst the offender was awarded a drive through penalty for his efforts, the time lost by the Aston appeared longer as Plumb was forced to wait for a gap in the traffic not to mention the damage to the suspension that would haunt them for the remainder of the race.

Moment later had both Team TGM cars pit for fuel only just as the first Full Course Yellow was issued for a stranded TCR car which then allowed both the #19 and #88 cars pit for full service and their first driver change to Rory Van Der Steur and Todd Coleman respectively. That glitch in the strategy saw the #46 car to soon pit again for a driver change – something that lost the Plumb brothers even more track time!

Just as the first hour was passed, effective disaster struck as first the #46 was given a drive through penalty of their own for leaving their pit box with pit equipment still attached, a brave move from Van Der Steur in the #19 car saw him lose more places that he won and the #88 of Todd Coleman now aboard had an off-track excursion, losing his then P10 position.

Second hour completed and the next round of stops were now due as Johnson took back the reigns of the #88 car and Valentin Hasse-Clot got his first racing action aboard the #19 car having left the pit lane also with pit equipment still attached to leave a huge fuel puddle in their pit box and a rendezvous back through the pit lane for their efforts! The #88 car would also disappear behind the wall for unknown reason.

Beyond the halfway stage, the #19 car was still the lead Aston Martin but well down now in P12 as the Frenchman looked to make amends with what he had underneath his right foot. With the Mercedes AMG GT4 and BMW M4 GT4 still the dominating forces within the GS class, any resurgence on race position would be difficult for any of them.

As the light continued to fade and the rain continued to threaten, the IMS circuit was still being problematic for the remaining AMR runners as both the #19 and #46 cars reported damage. Whilst the #88 car would return to the track after affecting the necessary repairs but some twelve laps down, the #65 of Own Trinkler would have to make the opposite journey through pit lane for repairs to the rear end of the car with just an hour to go.

Now effectively a night race, the final sixty became as equally as balmy as the opening sixty minutes as all used the opportunities of the ensuing periods of caution for their benefit. Ultimately, the earlier suspension damage to the #46 car eventually saw them forced into retirement before similar events befell their sister #46 car after that incident that Giovanis had to deal with earlier with the TCR cars.

Whilst the #88 was again circulating on track after their earlier issues, it was just the #19 Van Der Steur car that remained technically still within the race, still on the lead lap in seventh and with just minutes to go. That, however, also didn’t go to plan as the car was pushed off track before recovering to finish back in P12 for their efforts.

Its certainly not been the year of the AMR Vantage GT4 within the Michelin Pilot Challenge Series this season, a year that rounds off at Petit Le Mans in four weeks’ time.

Photo credits – Team / Series / Michelin / social media
Sunday, September 17, 2023 |
Leroux and Aston Martin Racing win the double again at Singapore GP

Leroux and Aston Martin Racing win the double again at Singapore GP


The weekend proved itself something of a record-breaking return for Romain Leroux as he became the first driver to win back-to-back double race wins (in class) at the Thailand Super Series Invitational round at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Last year driving a Viper Niza Racing prepared Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4, the twenty-one-year-old Frenchman with strong Asian race ties proved dominant within the GTC class last year to win both races.

This year, Leroux returned to the event but this time with the Earl Bamber Motorsport team to do likewise again this weekend with his new #97 AMR Vantage GT4.

Whilst we already know that both the platform and the driver have massive skill and potential – especially when combined, but the real news is of this new association with a predominantly Porsche based team with this chassis with the news from Aston Martin Racing themselves that this relation will extend beyond just this event.

Now, that is very interesting!!

Also at the event was the #63 Viper Niza Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 of Douglas Khoo with the event making their first-year anniversary of their tie up with Aston Martin where Singapore 2022 was he first AMR powered race.

Whilst Khoo now has many race miles under his belt within the #65 car within both the TSS and other series, difficult driving conditions during both races around the Singapore street circuit proved to be a challenge for many.

Finishing P8 in class after Saturday’s weekend opener, the weekend was tarnished slightly with a DNF in race two on Sunday.

The series now takes a break before its fifth and concluding championship round at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram in mid-December.

Photo credit – Teams / Series
Sunday, September 17, 2023 |
Two Aston Martins on second row of Michelin Pilot Challenge four hour race from IMS later tonight

Two Aston Martins on second row of Michelin Pilot Challenge four hour race from IMS later tonight


Another interesting IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series race is in store for us later this evening as two Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 crews feature within the second row of the grid from Indianapolis Motor Speedway with another just two cars further back.

Effectively already out of championship contention, the #88 Archangel car of Billy Johnson and the #19 Van Der Steur car driven by Austin McCusker secured P3 and P4 during today’s earlier Qualifying with todays extended four hour – into the night race scheduled for just two hours’ time.

The #64 Team TGM car of Ted Giovanis completes the AMR quartet in P27 out of the combined grid of forty-four cars – split twenty-eight GS class (GT4) cars and fourteen TCR based cars.

This weekend’s round is the penultimate round of the series.

Photo credits – Team / Series / Social media
Saturday, September 16, 2023 |