Painful end to Automatic Racing's efforts at Daytona

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Long time stalwarts of the Continental Sports Car Challenge, Florida based Automatic Racing again entered both of their Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's into yesterdays opening round of the 2018 season from the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.

The 2018 pre season has seen an explosion in GT4 entries in the GS with new chassis from Audi, Mercedes, and Ford making up the bulk of the numbers which is great for us Europeans more accustomed to watching such machinery competing in multi class events.

Yesterdays four hour event would see the #99 car start from 21st on the grid of out of a total 43 car entry across the three classes. An up and coming young talent in teenager Aurora Strauss qualified the car and started the race for the more descerning regular crew of Al Carter and Stephen Philips - the first time she had ever driven a GT4 or any other car of that performance in her racing career to date.

Despite her slight build and younger years, Strauss was very quickly able to utilise the smooth handling style of the Vantage GT4 to move up to P8 by the time of the first full course caution just shy of 45 minutes into the race.

Such was the prowess her driving, Strauss caught the eye of IMSA Radio's and US racing talent scout Jeremy Shaw which will be interesting to watch for the future!

For the teams sister #09 car of Brandon Kidd, Ramin Abdolvahabi and Rob Ecklin, the competitive of the race (and presumably the Eason to follow) would soon come crashing home, biting them hard at the bus stop through no fault of their own and destroying any ambition that that trio may have had for the race.

An over ambitious move from a following Mercedes AMG GT4 just after the ninety minute mark of the race caused sizeable side and rear suspension damage to the very distinctively liveried car, causing a further full course caution and putting the #09 car behind the wall for a sizeable portion of the race although it did return to the track in the latter stages.

With team 'rookie' driver Strauss now having served her minimum drive time, the #99 car was in the capable hands of Phillips in around 16th place when he was unfortunate enough to come across someone else's spin at the blind turn one, clipping the front end of that stationary Audi hard enough to rip the rear quarter mechanics of the car from their mounts.

Fortunately, and although shaken and bruised for some, nobody was seriously hurt in this incident although we now understand that Phillips was later hospitalised for precautionary checks and observations overnight (due for release today). At least the team have sufficient time to effect repairs to be be present at the next round of the ten event series from the Sebring International Raceway in mid March.

Images c/o IMSA Streaming

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