Strong Season Debut ​for Multimatic Aston​s at Daytona​

Monday, January 28, 2013

Multimatic Motorsports left The World Center of Racing with a solid haul of championship points and a high level of confidence that its 2013, four car Aston assault has all the ingredients required for a successful season. Even though the fourth car only arrived in Orlando, from England, late on Tuesday night, the team was at full strength from first practice on Wednesday, with everything running smoothly and more importantly quickly, out of the box. Despite still carrying the disproportionately high balance of performance ballast, the Multimatic Astons topped the time sheets all the way through to the truncated qualifying session where young gun Jade Buford put the #55 Vantage V8 on the pole.

The opening race of the 2012 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, held on the high banks of the 3.56 mile Daytona road course configuration, was a typically intense affair with plenty of "rubbing" and enough caution periods to challenge the most experienced tactician. Multimatic took full advantage of its four car stable and ran alternative "pairs" strategies which covered all possible outcomes.  The Multimatic Astons led large portions of the race with the #55 of Buford and #71 of Mike Marsal running nose to tail at the front of the field for a period after their two sister cars had made early stops. With the first rounds of pit stops completed it was David Empringham in the #15 Aston that was able to take control of the race up until the #61 Roush Mustang of Billy Johnson went steaming past on the backstretch on lap 34. But despite the straight line speed advantage of the Mustang, Johnson couldn't make it stick in the infield road course section and the two traded the lead up until the second round of stops.  With the race settling into its final 45 minutes, with all pit stops complete, the team suffered two setbacks in quick succession with the #71 of Tonis Kasemets picking up a drive through penalty for a pit lane speeding infraction and the #55 of Scott Maxwell being pushed into the tire wall at the bus stop with half an hour left in the race. Neither driver had a hope of recovering from these delays due to the highly competitive nature of the racing and so finished 11th and 12th respectively despite some outstanding driving from Maxwell that saw him consistently making three passes per lap. In the closing laps the racing got even more intense at the front between Johnson, Empringham and Matt Plumb in the Rum Bum Porsche. Ultimately the ballast weight on the Astons took its toll and superior braking, handling and driving couldn't overcome the speed deficiency on the banking and the #15 crossed the line an excellent third with Nick Mancuso in the #16 right behind in fourth after holding off a late race charge by a couple of aggressive Camaros. Highlights of the weekend were as follows:

The old friendship/rivalry of Empringham and Maxwell saw the #15 and #55 Astons trading times at the top of the sheets throughout all of the practice sessions leading up to qualifying. The #71 of Kasemets and Marsal was never far behind as the former tried different set-ups and the latter spent the time getting to grips with his new Aston ride. Frankie Montecalvo and Mancuso did double duty in practice as they came to terms with driving their Aston in vengeance after getting only a handful of laps in official testing, and then being tasked with working through all of the new car issues.

Qualifying saw Buford in the #55, Marsal in the #71, John Farano in the #15 and Montecalvo in #16 all get caught out to different degrees by a red flag incident that ultimately reduced the session to a single flying lap. It was Buford who ultimately took maximum advantage of the situation and made his very first attempt count at a 1:56.512 which handed him the pole by over 0.3 seconds over the #61 Mustang of Jack Roush Jr. Although the data indicated that the other three Multimatic drivers were all on much faster laps than their first when the track went red these were not to count and Montecalvo ended 10th, Farano 12th and Marsal 14th.

The race saw numerous procedural changes, made by the new for 2013 race director, causing a fair bit of confusion and mayhem; the most significant of which was the old standard of not passing before the start finish line at restarts being replaced by a "you're racing when it goes green" approach. At least two serious wrecks were caused by some overzealous competitors trying to win the race at every green. Through all of this the Aston drivers remained calm, and there was always a white Multimatic Vantage at or near the front. The performance was especially gratifying to the Canadian team as all four cars outperformed the new Aston Martin Racing North America entry of TRG throughout the weekend despite the outstanding European factory driver pairing of Stefan Mücke and Darren Turner being brought in to assure its success.
Although not able to hold off the Mustang and Porsche on the banking, the Empringham/Farano entry ended on the podium which was a testament to the two Canadian drivers who were fast and kept out of trouble for the entire race. However, once again it was the #16 that was the story of the weekend as Mancuso held off some really aggressive charges at the final restart, putting in his best laps of the race in the final stages, in a car that had been 30,000 feet in the air just 72 hours earlier.

Multimatic Motorsports Team Principal, Larry Holt, commented: "I am very happy with our performance these last days; more from the standpoint of how the team executed than the outright result. This is the first time Sean Mason has had to deal with four cars in a single class but the engineers, mechanics and drivers just came together in a truly impressive way. The Astons were immaculately prepared, the race strategy was perfectly executed and other than one of the eight pit stops having a small jack problem, the team's performance in the lane was flawless.  John and Dave just did what they always do - drove fast and smart and ended on the podium - which is how they won the 2012 championship. I am really impressed with how Nick and Frankie performed and they totally earned that fourth place. The old boys suffered a couple of setbacks but that is all that kept them from the podium as both Tonis and Scotty displayed great pace. Finally, I can't help but be proud of the fact that it was Multimatic, once again, upholding Aston Martin's reputation at the front as Mücke and Turner were never a factor in the TRG entry."

The second race of the season is the GRAND-AM of The Americas presented by GAINSCO and TOTAL. It will be held on Saturday, March 02, 2013 at 3:00 PM at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX.
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