Dominant Multimatic Aston Martins Robbed of Perfect Weekend at Laguna Seca

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Multimatic Motorsports hit the sweet spot with the team's two Aston Martin Vantage V8 Grand-Ams in the Monterey hills as Joe Foster and Tonis Kasemets dominated Saturday morning qualifying, trading lap records throughout the session and resulting in an all Aston front row, more than 0.3 seconds clear of the field. The opening stages of the race were totally controlled by the two Astons; the diminutive British sports cars running nose to tail with little to no pressure from the chasing hoard of American and German competition. This made Boris Said's "Hail Mary" passing attempt in the #97 BMW, at the first caution restart, all the more bizarre as he had no hope of beating the Astons under braking into the first corner. Coming from well back of the leading Multimatic cars he went down the inside of Kasemets and hit the race leading #55 Aston so hard that it shot Foster into the gravel trap destroying the back of the car.

Said was immediately penalized for the blatantly banzai move and Foster struggled back on track in P28 but soon retired as a split gearbox cooler resulted in a complete loss of drive. A hugely disappointed Maxwell never got in the car. Kasemets then took up the fight and maintained control of a race that rapidly deteriorated into a total wreckfest where survival became the primary focus. Full course yellows bred full course yellows and the #71 passed into a single stop strategy early in the event. Jade Buford took over at a caution slightly outside of a green flag finishing window which never proved a risk as some of the GS field got to the end having taken even earlier stops. Buford restarted in P13 due to a number of the field opting to stay out but the young American used his fresh tires to great advantage picking off at least one competitor per lap. He passed the white flag in P5 but the unbridled aggression continued in front of him ending the #35 Subaru's day in a huge fire and wounding the #38 BGB Porsche Carrera enough for Buford to slip through on the climb towards the Corkscrew to end the day P3; a podium in only his second race with the team. Highlights of the weekend were as follows:

Despite both Multimatic Astons breaking the lap record, previously held by Maxwell, during qualifying, they did not come off the trailer quick on Thursday. The challenge all season has been that every race is the first visit to the track for Multimatic's new cars. Despite the team having 20 years of experience at most of the venues only occasionally does the knowledge transfer directly to the Aston Martins. Laguna was one place where familiarity bestowed no advantage and the engineering team was forced to start from scratch. But vehicle dynamics is Multimatic's core competency and every session was used to advantage so that by Saturday morning the drivers felt that they had strong contenders for qualifying. And so it was with "Front Row Joe" putting the #55 on the pole a mere .014 of a second ahead of Kasemets in the #71 who had traded the fast time with Foster throughout the entire session. The Astons were the only cars in the 1:34's with a comfortable 0.3 second margin over the always quick third place CKS Camaro.

Foster and Kasemets controlled the typically wild start and comfortably led the field without threat until the first caution period 20 minutes in. Again the Aston duo did everything right at the restart but Said displayed no such discipline which put both he and Foster's cars out of contention on the spot. A relatively simple lapse of judgment ending what was certainly going to be a strong run for the perfectly balanced Aston.

Kasemets then led the charge in the remaining Vantage and did everything needed to keep the #71 in contention including letting the odd overly aggressive competitor into the lead when it became prudent. However, despite his generosity the Aston ended up leading on a number of occasions and was handed off to Buford in perfect condition with a fresh set of Continentals, a full tank of fuel and an hour and ten minutes to go. The final stint was a fraught affair as a new record was set for caution periods and penalties. Buford commented over the radio that those around him were "deranged" but displayed a level of maturity belying his age as he navigated through the carnage making some outstanding passes resulting in a well deserved spot on the podium.
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