A frugal right foot delivers the silverware for the #27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin at a blistering VIR

Monday, August 29, 2022


The penultimate round of the 2022 IMSA Weather Sportscar Championship from the Virginia International Raceway also provided the entertainment goods for the three competing Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTD’s but only one would come away with the silverware.


Having endured something of a poor show last time out at Road America thanks to their revised BoP window, the Heart of Racing team came back to the Championship at VIR with fire in their belly as Ross Gunn planted his #23 Vantage GTD Pro car firmly onto the front row of the GTD only event for only the first time in his IMSA career. With Roman De Angelis Qualifying sixth in his GTD class, the #44 Magnus Racing AMR of John Potter would be the last of the eighteen runners for this two-hour forty-minute affair.

Again under the pressures of high air and track temperatures and increasing humidity, the #23 car of Gunn held onto the race lead coming out of turn 1, with him and the chasing #9 Porsche gapping the chasing pack even at this early stage. It was a close call for the #27 car however going into turn one for the first time as the young Canadian would have the nose of his car chopped off as all around him jockeyed for position.


With the exception of one GTD going off with an engine related issue during the early stages, the opening forty minutes would be clean and error free as Gunn maintained his overall race lead and the pair of AMRs in GTD maintaining their near starting positions as both De Angelis and Potter reached their minimum drive time.

Despite a half second lead coming him, a fuel and tyres only stop for the #23 car would see the Englishman strangely drop down the order somewhat coming out in third overall whilst the driver changing #27 and #44 cars to Maxime Martin and Andy Lally respectively saw them return in P6 and P12 with just over one hundred minutes remaining.


Having easily kept the Porsche and the Corvette behind, Gunn was this time unable to close the gap to them down from the eleven second gap before he would hand over to Alex Riberas. Martin and Lally meanwhile appeared ‘quiet’ on track before an attempted pass by a Mercedes around the #27 car forced that car wide through the esses, collecting an advertising hoarding in the process and bringing out the first FCY for the resulting debris on track.

Finally pitting for the mandatory driver change, an error from the team and crew during the #23 cars changeover would lead to further delays as a Drive Through Penalty was assessed for operating outside of the pit box and that would drop them thoroughly out of contention down in P14 overall.


With the #27 also taking the opportunity during the caution for fuel and tyres, the #44 Magnus car would continue round and would at one point lead the race with the #9 Porsche again admiring the rear end of an AMR Vantage but for them, their last planned stop would result in another unscheduled stop with Lally getting a rear puncture on his out lap – something that would thoroughly spoil their day.

Once the teams had rolled their final throws of the dice with fuel top ups, the #27 Aston of Martin was now leading the GTD class with only minutes to go. Already having been running for more than an hour, Martin unfortunately became easy pickings for the chasing Mercedes as he had fuel to burn whilst the Belgian must have been running on fumes to finally see the chequered flag to finish P4 overall and second in class.

A great result for that half of the Heart of Racing team as their #23 crew eventually finished P11 overall and P4 in GTD Pro. For Magnus, this was just a late tune up session within the Championship’s Sprint Cup Series before the final endurance round of the season at Petit Le Mans from Road Atlanta in five weeks’ time.


Photo credits – Jamey Price / Teams

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