Multimatic Aston Survives Road America Crashfest to Finish in the Lead Pack

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For the second race in a row the Grand-Am Continental Tire Championship visited a “power track” to the detriment of the #55 Multimatic Aston Martin Vantage V8. Although as fast as any of the of the class leaders from corners 5 to 14 at the iconic American road racing circuit, once onto the notoriously long, steep, uphill front straight, the Aston had no chance but to stay in the draft. Despite still being disadvantaged by an immoderate ballast weight, set by Grand-Am early in the season, Scott Maxwell was able to qualify the agile British sportscar on the outside of the second row. The team reversed the normal driving order for the weekend, as Road America is Tonis Kasemets home circuit, and Maxwell was able to run as high as second during his opening stint. Conflicting strategies slotted Kasemets in at P8 after a full service stop, perfectly executed by the Multimatic crew, under a full course caution. However, with literally dozens of crashes occurring in the second half of the race, the longest continuous green period was only five laps and Kasemets was never able to start a rhythm. The continuous restarts left the #55 Aston open to being “out dragged” to the first corner whenever the green flew. At the checkered flag a train of 12 cars crossed the line bumper to bumper with the Multimatic entry finishing P11 having survived aggressive tag teaming by the two Racers Edge Motorsports Boss302R Mustangs. Highlights of the weekend were as follows:

The #55 Aston was never far outside the top five during the two days of free practice leading up to race day, despite still continuing to carry 250 lbs of ballast weight. The diminutive Aston being directed by Grand-Am to run at almost the same weight as the big torque Mustangs and Camaros. Despite this mandated liability, Maxwell was still able to qualify Q4 only 0.4 seconds off the pole towards the front of another extremely close grid.

In a similar calamity to the race at Barber earlier in the season, the field didn’t get through the first corner before a massive crash at the start-finish line brought out a full course yellow and the safety car. The Aston lost a spot in the first corner melee as Maxwell chose survival over track position in the totally banzai ten seconds of green flag racing. The early yellow was an indication of what was to come as ultimately only 47 laps were covered in the two and a half hour event; a mere 23 of them green. The four mile lap of Road America presents a unique problem in that the minimum three lap yellow period of Grand-Am results in between 15 and 20 minutes of caution every time there is an incident. There were four such periods during Maxwell’s stint alone, leaving a total of 12 laps of racing for the Canadian to drive to P2, come in for an early splash-and-go fuel stop and then hand off to Kasemets. A great handling car allowed Maxwell to climb towards the front and some aggressive coverage of the inside of the track, into the corners at the end of the two long straights, helped him maintain the position. Effective but not ultimately a sustainable way to race in the CTSCC.

Kasemet’s stint was also dominated by caution flags, on occasion the safety car only being deployed when more than three simultaneous crashes had occurred. The local driver got a total of eleven green flag laps. It was the numerous restarts that were the downfall of the Aston as Kasemets was “out dragged” to corner one and, ultimately, ran out of innovative ways to block. A rare three lap green flag period at the end of the race set-up a sprint to the finish that saw the Aston in a rabid fight with the Racers Edge team cars. The Multimatic entry held its own and split the two Mustangs to finish eleventh at the tail of the tight lead pack.
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