Podium for Flying Lizards in GT4 America restart at VIR

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Four months after the conclusion of their first and last round from the Circuit of The America's, the SRO sanctioned GT4 America Series got off to a solid start for one of the four Aston Martin Racing customer teams at the Virginia International Raceway last night with a lights to flag Am Class win in the first of the weekend's triple header of races.

Not having things all their own way however, the Flying Lizard team found themselves with engineering difficulties with one of the two AMR Vantage GT4's that they run for Michael Dinan, one for each of the Sprint and Sprint X races, as a differential problem sidelined the #21 car for the weekend, leaving the #210 car to cover all six races for the Dinan/Robbie Foley driving duo.

Those issues didn't prove to be too much of a problem for Dinan as he qualified the #210 car on pole for the Am Class (P4 overall) for Fridays first fifty minute race in the single driver/no pit stop Sprint race.

Keeping himself out of trouble with the four Pro class cars ahead on the opening lap, Dinan drove a calculated race conserving tyres and keeping himself cool in the humid conditions as the track temperature reached over 40 degrees C and despite some late attention from the Rennsport Mercedes who tried to chase the black AMR down towards the end.

With fellow GT4 America AMR racer Fred Roberts unable to attend the race meeting due to the ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions with both Canada and the USA, the two AMR cars of Paul Terry and Jeff Burton from the Rearden Motorsport team went to make up the numbers of the fourteen car Sprint Race 1 grid as they qualified in P7 and P3 in class respectively.

Despite having claimed two podiums at the opening round, Terry looked the rustier of the three Am AMR drivers, initially picking himself up to P4 in class before three simple errors saw him spin off three times (twice at the same corner) as he overworked the car and tyres trying to make amends for each of his previous mistakes. This 'nightmare' of an opening race dropped Terry back down to P6 in class and P10 overall by the time of the chequered flag.

Team mate Jeff Burton was out in his latest AMR acquisition, liveried in a beautiful silver and red colour scheme in a Vantage GT4 that he recently secured from a fellow customer driver within the Rearden team. Whilst both Rearden drivers have recently been out racing in grass roots Utah State saloon and GT racing Burton, like Terry made early ground only to fall back as the laps ticked by for him to finish P4 in class and P8 overall.

Just by how the rules operate, the starting grid for race 2 on Saturday was determined by finishing finishing position and fastest lap meaning that despite winning Dinan will start tomorrows Sprint race behind the #58 Rearden AMR of Paul Terry.

Next up was the slightly longer Sprint X race with four AMR Vantages this time entered into the mandatory pit stop/driver change one hour race alongside their own Pro driver as both the Flying Lizard and Rearden cars being joined by those from both the BSport Racing and RS1 cars teams.

With the #210 Dinan/Foley car again being pick of the bunch in qualifying starting P10 overall, the others weren't too far behind with Burton and Vesko Kozarov in P11 with their #91 Rearden car, Bryan Putt/Kenton Koch P14 and Matt Dalton/Pat Gallagher P17 out of a starting grid of 20 cars.

With this Sprint X featuring Pro-Am, Am and Silver classes, this would be another race that wouldn't be clear cut until after the pit stop cycle had been completed during the five minutes either side of the halfway mark.

Unlike the earlier Sprint race, the first half had little in the way of action - certainly wasn't dull but cars just lacked that little differential between them except for those driving at the time. The #91 Rearden car did spin off at turn 1 second time around, effectively spoiling their race as the red AMR dropped down to last. That task was exacerbated by the AMR Vantage reportedly being down on power compared to both the BMW M4 and Porsche Cayman after the last round of series BoP adjustments. Whilst that wasn't so obvious in Sprint, the issue became more than obvious in Sprint X.

The distinctly liveried RS1 Vantage of Gallagher was also penalised with a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane at the time of their stop.

With track temperatures nudging past 50deg C, all the action came on the last lap as multiple cars including the race leading suddenly faulted as gasped for fuel around the final corners of the 5.25km circuit.

By the end, the #210 Flying Lizard car was again the first of the Aston's to cross the line in P5 overall and in class with the #91 Rearden car just behind in P6 despite that earlier spin. The #15 BSport and #33 RS1 cars followed home in P8 and P9 respectively.

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

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