Mixed fortunes for the Astons as SRO America went to VIR

Tuesday, June 20, 2023


Unfortunately not giving these three series and thirteen Aston Martin Racing powered cars the time that they deserve, we quickly wrap up last weekend’s track action – this time from SRO America family of GT3 and GT4 racing that ran around the picturesque circuit of Virginia International Raceway.

Again featuring the GT World Challenge, GT America and GT4 America Series, it was mostly the usual faces and names behind each of the entries although one GT4 car was back under the same entry name albeit with a differing service provider to last time whilst another was able to compete for as long as they had first imagined.

Starting with the topflight GT World Challenge Series, the #007 The Racers Group AMR Vantage GT3 of Derek DeBoer was back on track and again with Frenchman Valentin Hasse-Clot offering the factory support with Ross Gunn again cup tied over in the British GT Champiosnhip. The crew were hopeful of continuing their fantastic run a podium visits over the last two rounds although this time it simply wasn’t to be.

The cars best performance came during the real heat of the day on Saturday, having Qualified P5 within their Pro-Am class, the duo went on to finish just off the podium in P9 overall and P4 in class.

Sunday’s second race was unfortunately hampered with a clutch issue which stopped Hasse-Clot opening his opening stint to the desired effect with P15 overall P9 in class being their best.

The GT America again proved itself to be another hot cauldron of competitive motorsport (and that was just with the high ambient temperatures of the southern state) as solo driven GT3 cars went head-to-head with the smaller, less powerful GT4 cars which again proved itself to be the most beneficial for at least some of the entered six Aston Martins.

Being something of a feeding frenzy at the top of the GT4 table, the #50 Chouest Povoledo car of Ross Chouest, the #2 Flying Lizard car of Jason Bell and the #25 Heart of Racing car of Gray Newell were all there to pull a clear points gap upon their rivals but with all three cars locking out the front rows of the GT4 class in race 1, things were always going to get explosive.

Early contact and caution made for something of a procession as the 40-minute opening spent most of the time behind the Safety Car with the #25 Heart and #8 Flying Lizard car of Elias Sabo all demoted to DNF status by the end. For Chouest, he again hung on long enough to claim yet another race win over the #2 car of Bell in second but with Paul Kiebler again coming through for P3 in his #77 TR3 Aston.

That earlier contact soon earned Newell some more unwanted penalty points upon his race license for accident responsibility and that would see the last of him on track for that VIR meeting.

For race 2 on Sunday, the #25 and #8 would be non-starters and Chouest would come through again for another series double to further extend his championship lead over Bell who completed the podium in P3.

Finally in GT4 America, the Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 has clearly ‘lost its way’ within the GT4 fraternity as the five remaining entries (after Roman De Angelis was unable to participate due to Newell’s suspension) again struggled to keep up with their rivals through car performance alone.

With the BMW GT4 clearly the new dominating force within the series with variants of that car completing seven of the top ten places within race 1, it was all about class positioning as all the five Astons competed within either the Pro-Am or Am classes as opposed to silver for the front runners.

P6 in class for the #8 Flying Lizard car of Sabo and Andy Lee in Pro-Am and P5 in Am for the #26 Heart car of Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt were the best Qualifying efforts on the table. Positions at the end of that hour long opener saw the #8 just miss the class podium in P4 but there were two great drives from the #428 Van Der Steur car of Brady Behrman and Coby Shield and the #26 Heart cars to come home P5 and P7 respectively in Am.

Race 2 was much alongside the same format with the #50 Chouest Povoledo car (featuring their namesakes) being the most consistent, progressing from P4 in Pro-Am on the grid to eventually claim the final step upon the podium in third but with the #428 crew also moving up one for their best result to date P4 in Am.

Except for the GT America Series who get an additional round in at Nashville at the beginning of August, the other two series will reconvene (with GT America) at Road America over the weekend of 19/20th August.

Photo credits - Series
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