Four out of six podiums for Aston Martin Racing runners in GT America

Monday, September 20, 2021

We had already seen from earlier this year in another series that the Watkins Glen Circuit in upstate New York favoured the Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 platform and that was certainly the case as the largest number of such cars descended upon the circuit at the weekend for the latest rounds of the SRO America’s GT4 America and GT America series.

This weekend also featured two further AMR crews on top of the new one the raced last time out at Road America, so we were left to marvel at five Vantage GT4 cars in the Am driver only series around the 5.4km circuit for its two statutory forty-minute sprint races.

Jason Bell in his white #2 GMG Racing AMR was the front running Aston GT4 driver in the GT3/GT4 Championship after he and #25 Heart of Racing driver Gray Newell stuck it out in the stand-alone IndyCar support race at Nashville to gain some vital championship points. Indeed, last time out at Road America, Bell collected two podium finishes with a P3 and P1 that would catapult his performance forward this weekend to achieve a remarkable feat.

Joining Bell and Newell at Watkins Glen were again the Automatic Racing supported #09 car of Paul Kiebler who had his first competitive run out in his patriotic liveried car at Road America but was back again for some more racing experience – following a similar pathway as Newell is with his Heart of Racing package. They in turn were joined by two AMR Vantage GT4 racing newbies in the #50 3R Povoledo Racing AMR of Ross Chouest and the very last minute #888 AMR effort for Sean Whalen in his Zelus Motorsport Aston.

The #50 car had been delivered from the CSJ Motorsport team to the Dexter Racing supported crew only the week before and still supported a livery first shown by CSJ Motorsport at the Circuit of the America’s round last year whilst the #888 car had been secured from the Rearden Racing team.

Saturday’s opening race started towards the end of what had already been a busy day of track action, and with three AMR crews locking out the first three places on the grid in the order of Bell, Chouest and Newel. Kiebler wouldn’t be starting the race due to damage sustained in the earlier GT4 America Sprint X race and that left ‘rookie’ Whalen at the rear of the pack.

A clean start through the opening laps allowed Bell to pull clear whilst Newell kept Chouest on the straight and narrow before the GT4 Championship leading BMW’s contact with the Armco barrier brought things back under the control of the Safety Car with only fifteen minutes left.

Back to green and a great move from Chouest on the restart was only milli-seconds too quick to cross the control line ahead of Bell when he was not supposed to – despite crossing the line first in class, Chouest would quickly be penalised for that move and Bell would again be restored to class winner in an Aston Martin Racing 1-2-3 with all three drivers taking their first solo win or podium finish in the series.

For Sunday’s race it was a bright an early start for the seventeen runners – Kiebler would this time feature in the race after overnight repairs but again Bell would take class pole position with Newell in second and the #50 Povoledo car in P4.

Another great start for the GT4 runners with Chouest coming straight up to again challenge Bell for the class lead but for Newell, there would be no repeat of yesterday’s podium as a misfire struck his car down even before the green.

At the rear, the #09 and #888 Astons were still learning both the series and their cars with Whalen still only in his second ever race in the Aston but for both Bell and Chouest, it was plain sailing to another podium check out for the two Aston drivers with Bell claiming a further class win and Chouest his second in so many races.

The GT America Series now moves onto Sebring for a non-Championship round there before moving onto the final two races of the season at Indianapolis in mid-October.

Photo credits – GT America / Teams / CSJ Motorsport / F Lagunas

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