No joy for the fours Aston Martin GT4 runners in today Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Sebring

Thursday, March 16, 2023

It was another typically feisty Michelin Pilot Challenge race around the bumps of the Sebring International Raceway earlier today that again lost time to full course cautions but also set up a final lap dash to the chequered flag.

Having already got their IMSA sanctioned season underway at the four-hour opener around the banked track of Daytona, this two-hour race around Sebring was back to normality for the forty-two GS and TCR class cars.

Supporting this Aston Martin Racing brand at this event were just the two Team TGM Vantage GT4 cars of brothers Hugh and Matt Plumb along that of team boss Ted Giovanis and his co-driver Owen Trinkler along with the #44 Accelerating Performance Aston of Moisey Uretsky with Michael Cooper and the #19 Van Der Steur car of Rory Van Der Steur and Austin McCusker.

Dry running during the opening Free Practice Session was rudely interrupted with heavy rain during the days second, to a point where many of the runners simply didn’t go out and risk their machinery for a race that was scheduled to be dry before the GS Qualifying was interrupted so badly with track incident that nobody was able to set a time, so championship position was used instead to determine the grid.

That left the #46 TGM car of H Plump starting the first of the four Aston’s in sixth with the #44 API car of Uretsky seventh and the #19 Van Der Steur car of McCusker in eight. The #64 TGM car of Giovanis would start P13.

Despite a clean start and some great racing within the opening two laps, a serious incident involving three TCR cars led to the first FCY as the extensive debris field was cleared. Losing twenty minutes to that, further contact between this time two GS cars on the green flag lap lead to a second FCY as those cars were cleared away.

The pit lane was also opened to allow the grid to take service if they saw fit with the #46 TGM car of Hugh Plump taking both fuel and tyres, the #19 car just fuel but with the other two AMR’s staying out. Trouble hit the #19 car during that stop however when it was adjusted to have passed a pit exit red light to earn itself a stop + 60 penalty!!

Another ten minutes lost but a decent restart for Uretsky saw him finally get passed the #58 McLaren for seventh as McCusker recovered to just ahead of the #64 of now Owen Trinkler with H Plumb just behind the #44 car after their longer stop.

FCY No.3 for a TCR at the hour mark allowed all the remaining GS cars to pit for their final time with Matt Plumb taking over the #46, Michael Cooper the #44 and Rory Van Der Steur the #19. Another fifteen minutes later and it was again back to hip and shoulders racing as the GS class again tried to sort out its hierarchy at the front which for the #46 car sadly meant for a wide line whilst defending their position too drop three places to P9.

Ten minutes to go and the final FCY was called for two stranded cars as well as the #58 McLaren nosed into the tyre wall at T17. Fortunately nothing serious but it did set up for a final last lap dash to the flag for conclude this second round of the series.

Not the best of races again for the Vantage GT4 as clearly others were platforms were again faster than them, but it was still a P8 finish for the #46 car, P11 for the #44, P16 for the #64 and a disappointing P20 for the #19 after a further, third stop for them before the end.

Photo credits – Teams / social media




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