Disappointment and pain for the two Aston Martin Racing runners after another tough 6 hours of Monza

Monday, July 10, 2023


Congratulations to both Corvette Racing for securing their first and final GTE Am Class Championship win within the FIA World Endurance Championship, as well as to their amateur driver Ben Keating for retaining such a coveted accolade after the #33 crew did what was needed of them at just the fifth round of the season.

Moving on from the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month, this weekend’s visit to the Autodromo Nazionala Monza was also the WEC’s final leg of their European tour before proceeding onto both the Far East and then the Middle East to conclude their eleventh season.

There were just two Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE powered teams in attendance this time around with the #25 ORT with TF Sport and #777 D’Station Racing crews as the #98 Northwest AMR (Heart of Racing) team had elected to concentrate upon the IMSA duties in Canada instead.

After rain leading into the race weekend, all the official timed sessions would run under intense sunshine leading to issues of its own, particularly with tyres around the high degradation circuit and high wear upon the left-hand side of the cars.

With the #33 Corvette running at its heaviest so far this season as required to do so under the class’s success weight ballast system of BoP, the two TF Sport prepared Astons were slowest in class out of their boxes during Free Practice 1 and 2 before a slight improvement was noted during Free Practice 3 and into Qualifying.

With memories of last seasons European Le Mans Series still firmly in their minds, it was again the best of efforts for Ahmad Al Harthy to claim a front row start in class alongside the Iron Dames Porsche but with the #777 D’Station car of Satoshi Hoshino a ‘more matter of fact’ P11 out of a twelve strong class.

Sunday morning’s green flag arrived bright and hot again as the thirty-six strong grid started the 6Hours of Monza and hurtled into the first chicane at a vast rate of knots. With most contact being limited to the front end of the grid, both Astons were able to settle down into a rhythm – well, at least until the Hypercars came passed them for the first time.

Whilst staying completely over to the right-hand side of the circuit entering the braking zone into the Ascari chicane, the #8 Toyota misjudged their own position on track relative to Hoshino’s car to side swipe him heavily into the concrete retaining wall and then into the gravel. With heavy front-end damage, the #777 car was clearly out of the race, and it was soon reassuring to hear from the team that Hoshino was otherwise OK for his ordeal although that would mean for another early exist for his team from another FIA WEC race.

That still left five- and three-quarter hours of the race to go, and with the #25 ORT Aston Martin already on the back foot to the season dominant Corvette, that had all the makings of a very long day for Messrs. Al Harthy, Dinan and Eastwood.

By the end of the opening hour, the #25 car was still very much in contention in fourth as Al Harthy ran through a triple opening stint to clock up the cars opening seventy laps. Next in was American Michael Dinan who would do likewise for the next two hours of racing during that time the #25 car had dropped from fifth to eighth in class as the Porsches started to show as the more dominant force on track.

Unfortunately, by the time the race clock had struck its sixth and final hour, P8 would be their finishing position on track but a subsequent time penalty for the #56 Project 1 Porsche for constant abuse of track limits, that lifted the #25 car up to P7 in the official results.

So, in the battle to be runners up within the GTE Am Driver Championship, this result loses the #25 crew ground to the Iron Dames Porsche crew as the ORT with TF Sport AMR team drop to third with now just two rounds to go.

All the cars and equipment will now be loaded into shipping containers to be next seen at Fuji Speedway in just under two months’ time before the season concludes again in Bahrain in early November.

Photo credits – A Lofthouse / D Gibson / Team
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