Round one of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge kicks off at Daytona on Friday with four Astons aboard

Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Whilst the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship grid at Daytona have already decided their starting grid ahead of this weekend’s Rolex 24, it’s just the opening day of the new season today as a grid of forty-eight GS and TCR based race cars prepare to run their first race of the Michelin Pilot Challenge season with the four-hour BMW M Endurance Challenge race later on Friday.

With most but certainly not all of the combined MPC grid having tested at last weekend’s Roar before the 24-official test, the official entry list for this weekend’s opening round confirms thirty-two GS (GT4) cars and sixteen TCR cars with the same four Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 crews still amongst them.

The vibrant yellow #7 Volt Racing AMR GT4 of Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman is again joined on track by the long-term series supporting Automatic Racing AMR GT4 entry of the #09 Stoner Car Care car of Rob Ecklin and Ramin Abdolvahabi. The #09 crew will this time race within the series new for 2022 Bronze Cup Class but have sadly had to part with intended third driver Brandon Kidd for the season after he was elevated to silver grade over the winter.

Joining these two cars (at least at the opening round at Daytona) are two new crews for the IMSA support series as Automatic Racing who have also brought along their SRO GT America and GT4 America gentleman driver Paul Kiebler and his latest co-driver Jon Branam with their patriotically liveried #27 Aston to the show. They will also compete within the Bronze Cup Class.

They in turn are joined by the NTE Sport AMR GT4 entry of Manny Franco, Romeo Kapudija and Josh Hurley with their blue and white liveried #12 car. Whilst initially entered as a one off within the Michelin Pilot Challenge, we understand from the team that a full season entry is a distinct possibility subject to just how Daytona goes for the crew.

As a matter of interest, their #12 car was the former Fred Roberts car that he entered and raced in the 2020 GT4 America Series just as COVID-19 started to lock the world down and with strict cross America/Canada border controls, he would race his Aston now more. Those with a longer memory will recall that Roberts sourced his car from Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman after they won the British GT GT4 Pro-Am Championship with their Beechdean AMR supported car the season before!

Also, amongst this weekend entries (as a one off entry this time) are the names of Frank Gannett and Drew Staveley who again race one of Ian Lacey Racing’s Ford Mustang GT4’s ahead of what should be another entry into the GT world Challenge America later this year with their AMR Vantage GT3.

First action on track will be later today with the first Free Practice session with another Free Practice and Qualifying tomorrow ahead of Friday’s race that starts at 13.35hrs local.

Photo credits - Teams
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