Stoner Car Care Aston Martin back in Michelin Pilot Challenge this weekend at Road America

Monday, August 01, 2022


The challenge is set for the Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing team this weekend: prepare for some of the hottest temperatures yet this season as the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge is set to feature the second endurance race of the season, the four-hour Road America 240.

Drivers Rob Ecklin, Jr. and Ramin Abdolvahabi, veterans of numerous races at Road America, look to capture that elusive Bronze Cup victory as they return to the legendary Wisconsin circuit with their No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin Vantage GT4. The Bronze Cup recognises the top drivers in the Grand Sport (GS) class who are in the FIA-rated Bronze category, denoting drivers who are not full-time professionals – but who are fully dedicated to improving their racing craft.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge series traditionally contests two four-hour endurance races each season, with the first at Daytona in January. This year, the second endurance race makes its debut at Road America, bringing a unique set of challenges to driver, team and equipment – especially given the expected temperatures in the 90s.

Teams often add a third driver for the endurance events but like Daytona, the Stoner Car Care team will stay with its usual two-driver lineup this weekend – though in dramatically different weather conditions than they saw in January.

“We contested the four-hour race at Daytona with just Ramin and I, so we know what to expect,” said Ecklin. “Though of course, the weather will be very different this weekend! We’re looking forward to the chance for more track time at Road America: it’s such an iconic track in terms of history and location.

“The key for Saturday is strategy and looking at how to manage that with two drivers,” continued Ecklin. “Fuel stops, yellows, and of course, the driver himself – ideally, you change drivers halfway, but this is a very physical track and with the heat, that’s the biggest challenge. You have to rest where you can on the straights, because you’ll need it on the tight sections. And some of these corners are pretty loaded, G-force wise. It will definitely be an endurance test.”

The team conducted a two-day test with both drivers two weeks ago at VIRginia International Raceway and came away with solid setup for the Road America weekend. Automatic Racing team manager David Russell has a plan in place, but knows that plans can rapidly change, especially in an endurance event.

“We had a good test two weeks ago at VIR, so we definitely feel ready,” offered Russell. “As Rob said, there isn’t a big difference in pre-race prep for a four-hour race, but it is a strategy change – especially with only two drivers. We have that planned but of course, looking at probable pace and tire degradation – we can’t look at historical data regarding Road America caution periods, though, because of the longer race. We’ll stop at least three times, if not four, and we have to factor in where to place the driver change, working from the end of the race backwards. Obviously though, racing usually does not go to plan!”

Russell also looks forward to an added “family” dynamic this weekend on the Stoner Car Care team.

“This is a special weekend for a lot of reasons,” said Automatic Racing team manager David Russell. “Two of our team guys, Ryan and Aaron Szyjakowski, are from Milwaukee and their dad Joseph will be out here helping this weekend! It’s going to be a lot of fun to have them all involved.”

The Stoner Car Care team continues to support End Alzheimer’s Racing, carrying decals on the car to help their efforts to raise funds and awareness.

The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge 240 from Road America takes the green flag Saturday at 2:15 p.m.

Source material – Stoner Car Care
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