New Aston GT4 takes class win at GT4 America season opener

Sunday, March 08, 2020

This weekends opening round of the 2020 SRO GT4 America series has already proved itself to be a successful one for the five teams running the new Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4.

Spilt between the hour long Sprint X and the fifty minute Sprint races, both the Flying Lizard and Rearden Racing teams came away with their first racing spoils of the new season with a close 1-2 in yesterdays Sprint race having been running as an AMR 1-2-3 in the opening stages of the race.

With four new Vantages running in each of the Sprint X and Sprint races, all the teams had to make adaptions to their earlier Free Practice running setups due to the lower ambient and track temperatures (and slight rainfall in the morning) that were experienced on Saturday as well as (for some) differing characteristics within the car brought about by an apparent change in Balance of Performance within the chassis since the Series Winter Invitational earlier in the year.

For the fifty minute Sprint race, it was a simple case of letting the Pro cars go and race their own race for the rest of the Pro-Am field that was lead throughout by either the #210 Flying Lizard car of Michael Dinan or the #59 Rearden car of Paul Terry.

Whilst the then third placed #91 Rearden car of Jeff Burton was sucked into the battles of the chasing pack behind, both Terry and Dinan were allowed to race away and squabble between themselves for the right to lead the class, producing some great racing as a result that would go all the away before being decided  at the penultimate corner of the race for Dinan to snatch the Pro-Am win from Terry at the death. That race brought large smiles to both drivers at the podium celebrations.

Burton would eventually finish P4 in class whilst the series returning Fred Roberts brought in the last of the runners with his #89 Vantage as he gets himself back up to speed with the Series and his new AMR with the help of driver coach Matt George.

In the earlier Sprint X race, things were a little harder for the for runners and the Pro-Am line ups with the amateur drivers taking the start on what still a greasy circuit following the earlier rain.

The top running AMR was Jeff Burton who would share his #91 car with co-driver Vesko Kozarov and they were closely followed by Michael Dinan and Robby Foley with his (other) #21 AMR. The other coverts to the AMR marque were the #15 BSport Racing car of Bryan Putt and Kenton Koch who would start from P16 and the #33 Rennsport 1 predared car of Joe Dalton and Pat Gallagher.

At the rolling start, both front running Astons would go side by side into the tight turn 1 and that battle would continue into the opening laps although the simply lead to them being both caught and passed to drop them back from the Qualifying position.

Both cars were fortunate just ten minutes into the race when the #91 Mercedes collected both Astons going into a corner too hot, leading to race ending front ending damage for himself and a delayed return to the race for Dinan.

Running up to the mid way point and compulsory part stop, Burton was still P3 in class whilst Dinan had dropped down to P6 in class. Putt and Dalton hadn't really got going running and were down in P12/13 respectively as all four Aston pitted at the first available opportunity within the ten minute window.

Bizarrely, all the Aston's lost track position over the course of the pit window leaving the top runner the #21 Flying Lizard car of Robby Foley whilst the #91 Rearden car had dropped down to P10 in class.

Despite from flying laps from Kenton Koch aboard the #15 BSport car in the early laps of his stint, no other AMR could really muster any challenge to better the position that they were already. First race of the season and early issues with bad tyre management were some of the reasons why so that should change as the season progresses.

Second Sprint and Sprint X races take place this afternoon.

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

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