Heart of Racing see out epic IMSA race at VIR to claim P9 class finish ##UPDATED##

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Success in racing is not necessarily limited to those who stand upon the steps of the podium once the chequered flag has fallen and for the Heart of Racing Team, success was more than achieved with their top ten finish at yesterdays Michelin GT Challenge IMSA event at Virginia International Raceway.

Since changing over to the Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTD for the start of their 2020 IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship season over the winter, and like for many other race teams around the world, their high hopes have fallen somewhat short through uncontrollable circumstance more than anything else as the team also use their racing activities as a mechanism of raising vital funds for the Seattle Children's Hospital.

Starting off at the Rolex 24 at Daytona at the start of the year, their first AMR race there was soon cut short short by a bizarre accident and before they had had time to complete their repairs, the next round - then the round after that had all been cancelled because of this new pandemic. Basing themselves in Florida for the season, the team then took the conscious decision on not to compete in the two opening rounds of IMSA's return to racing calendar (for the continued safety of the team) as infection rates within the State of Florida remained high.

Road America was next on their list but even with the best of efforts from the crew, a leaking fuel cell into the cockpit of the car was something that they obviously couldn't run with so the car was withdrawn just after Qualifying. Yesterday race at VIR was a true test of character for the team with their nominated co-driver still landlocked in New Zealand, still no standing fans with whom to interact and fundraise from and no substantial seat time since the Rolex24.

Testing in the mixed conditions of Friday where the second Free Practice session was all bar rained off, Qualifying again was upon the shoulders of team boss Ian James to work his magic amongst the field of 13 GTD cars and 6 GTLM cars and a P10 grid position looked pretty good considering their previous circumstances. Saturdays race at least avoided any further rain as the track remained dry, despite the dense cloud cover overhead but the air temperature and the rain that had previously fallen did make for some hot and humid conditions inside the cars.

Despite the performance differences between classes and the tight, undulating nature of the VIR circuit, there were surprisingly few incidences at the start - although a swift FCY at the start for debris and two further cautions during the race to retrieve stranded cars did lose the race about twenty of its 2hrs 40min duration.

Starting P16 overall and P10 in class, James took a few laps to settle into the rhythm of the race before he started to push his own lap times as he found himself sandwiched between the two Acuras during his opening stint. A FCY was called just before he (and other Am drivers) had completed their minimum drive time meant that James had to go out again after the cars first full service stop which dropped them back down to P11 in class having made up two places beforehand.

Just before the second scheduled stop, James had again worked his way up to P10 overall and P6 in class as as others ahead faltered before he ultimately handed the car over to Roman de Angelis who, for the final hour would also enjoyed a similar race perspective between the #44 Lamborghini and the #12 Lexus until the end. The car finished P13 overall and P9 in class. From the response from the team - we think that they are pretty stoked by that performance yesterday!!

The IMSA Championship now moves on to Road Atlanta in two weeks time.

##UPDATE## The #23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTD has been elevated to a class P8 finish after the Michelin GT Challenge after then third placed finishing #48 Paul Miller Lamborghini GTD failed a post race inspection - placing them to the rear of the finishing order.

Photo credits - IMSA / Heart of Racing / CSJ Motorsport

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