Further success for AMR runners as GT4 America closes in Texas

Monday, March 09, 2020

Not content to rest upon the laurels of their successes on the opening day of the new GT4 America Series from the Circuit of The Americas over the weekend, the five new Aston Martin Racing Customer teams entered into the SRO sanctioned Series pushed on to increase the number of podiums gained after the second day of running yesterday and marked the firm arrival of the new AMR Vantage GT4 in the USA.

The longer, pit stop influenced Sprint X race was the only race on Saturday that an AMR runner wasn't on the podium for but that was soon changed in Sundays race where the #21 Flying Lizards AMR Vantage GT4 of Michael Dinan and Robby Foley went onto claim a well earned second position overall in the multi-class race after the hour of racing.

With the #15 BSport Racing Vantage of Kenton Koch being the lead AMR car on the grid on the front row, a chaotic start was to ensue as the first four rows of cars became detached from the main body of the grid that lead to the usual 'argy-bargy' going into the tight left hander, dropping both the #15 and #21 cars down but also allowed the pack to regain their position just behind.

The first trouble for an AMR runner came on the opening lap for this race as the #33 Rennsport 1 AMR of Pat Gallagher tagged the rear of the KTM X-Bow, spinning that around but causing themselves substantial front end damage that would ultimately see that car retire by lap 6.

After a brief FCY/Safety car to clean up the debris field of the #33 cars accident, a competitive race began between the two Pro drivers aboard the #15 and #21 cars as Koch initially kept Foley behind him before the two traded places on many occasions as the cars headed towards their pit stops just after the halfway mark - which they would take a lap apart from one another.

The #91 Rearden Racing car of Vesko Kozarov had also been having an eventful race, going fast enough to maintain his then P10 position overall from the forceful attentions of the TRG Porsche behind. That all came to a horrible end for the Russian as a side swipe contact from the #23 Porsche lead to an immediate deflation of the right rear tyre going into turn 1 and although the car did eventually make it back to pit lane, too much time had already been lost.

A quick stop from BSport Racing and a slow stop from the Flying Lizard team meant that their cars had again swapped positions on the timing screen as the amateur drivers ventured out and both picked up easy places as two other cars struggled on cold tyres on their out laps. That moved both the #15 and #21 cars up to P2 and P3 respectively with just twenty minutes remaining but for Putt, that was unfortunately fifteen minutes too long!

Struggling for pace, the #15 car dropped down to P8 overall and P5 in class by the time of the chequered flag but Dinan was able to keep pushing to earn himself and co driver Foley a highly warranted P2 overall (and in class) finish for Dinan's second podium of the weekend so far.

Sadly, the #33 Rennsport and the #91 Rearden Astons were the only DNF's of the race.

To complete the opening weekend of the series saw the second fifty minute Sprint race of the weekend with the four AMR's making the grid. Paul Terry's #59 Rearden Racing AMR would again out qualifying the #210 Flying Lizard car in P4 and P5 respectively whilst the #91 Rearden car of Jeff Burton would start from P10 just ahead of the #89 RecStaff Racing car of Fred Roberts in P12.

For the second Sprint race of the weekend, Terry and Dinan went racing together creating some fine sights around the 5.5km circuit amongst those nail biting moments that could have seen both cars spin off into eternity. Also for the second time, transponder issue aboard the #59 car lead to it being placed incorrectly on the timing screen but that mattered not to either Am class Aston as they kept upon the tail of the leading Pro driven cars ahead despite their Am driver credentials.

Just before the halfway mark there was little over half a second between the two Astons as Dinan didn't want to let Terry look to reverse the class finish of race 1 where Dinan took the class honour at the penultimate corner.

A brief FCY for a stranded car followed by then a second FCY soon after for an accident on the restart lap let all the drivers have a breather and let their tyres rest before an eight minute final burst to the finish.

As almost expected of them, the battle to the flag went all the way to the final corner where Terry managed to get passed Dinan into the final corner and keep the power down in long enough to beat the #210 car on the drag up to the finish line. Further issues with timing and the #59 meant that Dinan was at first interviewed as the winner of the Am class but that was soon rectified behind the scenes to allow Terry to take the top step of the podium for the first time.

Last weekends GT4 America ended up producing five podium positions across some of the five AMR Vantage teams together with two P4's and a P5 from the Sprint and Sprint X races - that is a fantastic achievement but also one that will be very difficult to replicate considering the characteristics of some of the circuits the series will now visit.

Next stop for the Sprint cars will be next weekend from St Petersburg in Florida - gloves are off - now the season starts!!!

Photo credits - GT4 America / Flying Lizards / Rearden / CSJ Motorsport

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