Volt Racing Aston Martin claim third in the Michelin Pilot Challenge after caution filled finale

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Up until this weekend, the IMSA sanctioned Michelin Pilot Challenge had provided us with nine cracking rounds of inter GT4 and TCR class racing but last night’s final two-hour round of the season around the picturesque circuit of Road Atlanta left us disappointed from a race spectacle although there was some final progress for one of the Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 cars.

Going into the final race of 2021 were the full season #7 Volt Racing with Archangel AMR Vantage GT4 of Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman as well as the #23 Notlad Racing with Rennsport 1 AMR of Pat Gallagher and Stevan McAleer who came back to the series halfway through. 

Both cars struggled this time in Qualifying and gave themselves some work to do during the race as the #23 claimed P6 and the #7 car P8 on the grid but every car stepped up one position after Qualifying as the pole setting Kohr Motorsport Mustang would not be taking the start for financial reasons.

Only the #7 Volt Aston Martin had any Championship potential going in the last round, but they needed something approaching a minor miracle if they were ever to overcome their points deficits to the then leading #95 BMW.

Never letting some hard racing get in the way of some fun on track, Gallagher was soon up a couple of positions in the opening minutes of the race last night whilst Brynjolfsson held station after having initially dropped down slightly on the opening lap.

Up ahead, the #56 Mercedes AMG was breaking away from the pack with a six second gap from first to fourth increasing to eight in only a few laps but then came the first of too many full course cautions that would blight the entertainment and during one, change the outcome of the 2021 season itself.

The first was just for a minor tag between a TCR and a GS car that left the latter stranded in a gravel trap but that would equate to thirteen minutes of lost race time by the time the race went back to green. The trouble is cautions is that they usually breed more cautions and that was so here as (this time) a TCR car soon became stranded after initially going back to green.

The #23 car would also fall foul of the rules during their second stop as Gallagher would be too quick on the accelerator pedal and took part of their refilling hose with him down the pitlane for which that would earn them a drive through penalty.

On the next restart, a pushing Brynjolfsson would cut the apex kerb of the final corner pushing inside to the #96 BMW (a crew in front of them in the championship) to clip the BMW on his outside and send it into the tyre wall on the outside of T17. The huge debris field and stranded car would make for another long FCY with a further 24 minutes of lost race time.

Eventually going back to green, McAleer was finally able to serve their penalty and that would drop them back down the order and then Hindman would have to do likewise for their earlier contact with the #96 car and all just before FCY number 4 came along for yet another stranded and damaged car off track.

By the time the wave around was complete, the #7 had dropped down to P17 and the #23 just behind in P18 as the cars had to wait until the race clock hit 33minutes remaining before they went back racing again.

Shortly after that the most pivotable and unfortunate moment of the race came about as the championship leading #95 BMW became entangled again with a car that wanted to win the race but not the championship. Contact between the #95 and the #56 left the #95 stuck in the gravel – out of the race and out of the top place in class for the Championship.

A crazy last fifteen saw further attrition that would see both Aston’s elevate themselves from P10 and P12 up to P6 and P8 for the #7 and #23 cars respectively. That was enough to take the #7 crew up to the same points score of the #96 BMW crew (who crashed out earlier in the race) but the #7 crew would claim third in class in the GS Championship by virtue of better results.

Congratulations to them

Photo credits – MPC / Teams / CSJ Motorsport / F Lagunas
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes