A hard choice for the Heart of Racing team after a two day assessment for nine proficient race drivers

Sunday, November 13, 2022


The Heart of Racing hosted nine female finalists at the APEX Motor Club in Arizona last week, testing the girls’ performance on and off the track through two days of testing. The selected driver will race an Aston Martin for the team in GT4 competition next season.

Nine racers - Jessica B├Ąckman (SWE), Chloe Chambers (USA), Hannah Grisham (USA), Nicole Havrda (CAN), Jem Hepworth (UK), Chelsea Herbert (NZ), Rianna O’Meara-Hunt (NZ), Sara Misir (JAM), Annie Rhule (USA) - from all around the globe and with a wide range of racing backgrounds convened just outside of Phoenix, Arizona at the all-new APEX Motor Club for two days of testing onboard three of The Heart of Racing’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4s.

The judges for the two-day test focused on candidates’ overall pace, aptitude in and out of the car, willingness to learn, their response and engagement with data reviews, changing driving styles, and how they gelled with their fellow team members and competitors.

On-track activity for Day 1 consisted of getting familiar with the GT4 car with the nine drivers split between three Aston Martins. The focus was working on driving technique and the specific nuances of the track while lapping on Pirelli tires that has gone through multiple hat cycles.

Drivers debriefed with The Heart of Racing’s three coaches: 2022 IMSA WeatherTech GTD Champion, Roman De Angelis, Alex Riberas and SRO driver Gray Newell.

“We made it clear to the drivers that we were not going to be testing them purely on lap time and speed,” said Ian James. “We really wanted to see how they got on in the car and what their progression was going to be like over the two days. Seeing a big improvement from Day 1 to Day 2 was just as important as being quick in the car.”

In addition to testing their on-track capabilities, the girls took part in media interviews, demonstrating their ability to speak on several topics of conversation.

Day 2 saw a more structured agenda with each candidate receiving their own set of new Pirelli race tires, allowing each of them to learn about tire management in a classic race weekend setting. The first session saw the drivers perform a 15-minute qualifying simulation, getting used to taking first laps on new slicks.

The second session was Race 1 simulation lasting 25-minutes on the same set of tires that they had qualified on. The final session of the day, was a Race 2 simulation with another stint on the same qualifying and Race 1 tires.

“We didn't really know what we were walking into with this new project and it has so far been a very enjoyable process,” said Riberas. “It's so cool to be able to work with such young drivers that actually like to do everything you ask them to in terms of coaching. And to see them actually apply it, you’re able to see how much they improve and how happy they get about improving, so you see the whole evolution. For me, it's a proud project that The Heart of Racing has decided to do."

“I think all the women have done a fantastic job, making it very difficult for us to pick one,” said De Angelis. “We expected a few of them to have their quirks or not be as strong as the others, but everybody has done such a fantastic job and been strong on and off the track, which is important to us. I think as a team, everybody's done a really good job executing these two days. It's not a very easy thing to have three cars running full-time for two days to give everyone the same chance. I think the team's done an excellent job of doing that.”

The Heart of Racing is reviewing the nine candidates’ on-track and off-track performance to select their driver for the 2023 season. The winner will be given a full-season GT4 ride with The Heart of Racing team.

Source material - Heart of Racing 
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