A bruising for some but still a podium rewarding visit to CoTA for the AMR powered cars of the GT4 America Series

Monday, May 22, 2023


Following on from the near domination within the GT4 ranks of the GT America Series, the sister GT4 America Series proved partly as rewarding for the Aston Martin Racing powered line up at their latest round from the Circuit of The Americas at weekend despite some casualties along the way.

The first casualty was the loss of the #69 Archangel AMR Vantage GT4 of Todd Coleman and Billy Johnson after Coleman and the team could resolve their differences regarding their Bronze-Gold driver line and the series intention to impose additional ballast going into the race weekend despite not having done so at previous rounds.

As a result of that, Coleman withdraw his entries within both GT America and GT4 America moving forward which is always a sad thing to read for all concerned and that took the number of AMR powered teams down to seven out of an expected grid of forty-one cars but that did still include the new #2 Flying Lizard entry for Jason Bell and Michael Cooper.

Qualifying for Saturdays first hour long race went as well as previous rounds with the #26 Am class entry from the Heart of Racing team being the best out of the seven with a P2 starting position for the Hannah Grisham, Rianna O’Meara-Hunt driven car. 

That number of cars into turn 1 at CoTA was always going to lead to trouble and that was precisely what Race Control got as multiple cars impacted with one another that left two with race ending damage as well as scares for the #2 car of Bell, its sister #8 car of Elias Sabo, the #428 Van Der Steur car of Brady Behrman as well as the #77 TR3 car of Paul Kiebler.

After a ten-minute Safety Car break to clear up the mess it was back to racing business with all the above cars thankfully not affected too much by their earlier contact. Grisham was one who wouldn’t be afraid to mix it up with her silver and Pro-Am grade rivals as she continued her car’s battle in P10 overall whilst the other Aston Martin crews played catch-up having all been delayed in that first corner incident.

Trouble soon came for the #24 Heart car of Gray Newell as secondary contact from the #50 Chouest Povoledo car of Ross Chouest after they were side swiped by a Toyota spun them around at to the tail of the pack, a position from which they would never ultimately recover, despite Roman De Angelis again pairing with Newell.

Hitting the mandatory pit window at the halfway point, both O’Meara-Hunt and Cooper would emerge fourth within their respective Am and Pro-Am classes but will Andy Lee, Coby Shields and Jon Branam all on the hunt further back.

That race would end with the #2 Flying Lizard car narrowly missing debut class podium in P4 and its sister #8 car in P5 in Pro-Am whilst the Am class was lead home by the #26 Heart car in P6 but with the #50 Chouest Povoledo car being an effective non finisher due to that earlier damage.

Sunday’s second race was however to be better again as the track conditions had deteriorated from earlier in the weekend with a damp (with rain still threatening) and cooler ambient temperature conditions that always serves to be a great equaliser amongst any multi-class grid.

Saturday’s second qualifying session had seen Cooper secure a front row spot in P2 and supported a few rows back by the #8 car of Lee and the #24 car of De Angelis. In Am, the #428 VDS car of Shields led the way in P4, the #77 car of Jon Branam in P6 and the #26 Heart car further back in P11.

Going into turn 1 for the first time again saw a near repeat of Saturday’s race with further contact for both the #8 Flying Lizard and #24 Heart cars of Lee and De Angelis but at least this time, the race was able to continue without the need for outside intervention.

Heading into the pit window, Cooper was holding onto P3 overall having been passed for position at the start whilst Lee held onto P7 in class.

With Meara-Hunt first to pit within her #26 car, others elected to stay out for longer as their ‘stronger’ driver was already aboard. With some of the grid having pitted and some not, a stationary car on track caused Race Control issues about whether to call a Safety Car but this time, they did at least allow the grid to complete their compulsory stops before doing so. Further suspension issues for the #24 Heart car would make for a torrid weekend however for the De Angelis/Newell combo!

By this time most if not all cars had pitted, and strategy had allowed the #2 car of Bell to emerge from pit lane in the race lead just as the race went under caution to recover that stranded car. That left what appeared to be a 20-minute dash to the flag but even that was curtailed as three/four cars were caught up in a high-speed incident at turn 1 again.

With too much debris to clear, race 2 eventually finished behind the Safety Car with the #2 Flying Lizard car of Cooper and Bell taking their first race win together, with the sister #8 car home in P5. In Am, the #428 VDS car of Shields and Behrman narrowly missed out upon their first podium of the year in P4 but the #77 TR3 entry of Kiebler and Branam did manage to secure their second of the year so far with a deserved P3 finish.

The next round should, by the natural characteristics of the circuit be another highly entertaining race as the series moves onto VIR in about three weeks’ time.

Photo credits - Series / Teams
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes