Just two Aston Martin Vantage GTEs at start of the homeward stretch to WEC 2023 campaign from Monza

Tuesday, July 04, 2023


Effectively at the start of the homeward run to the conclusion to the 2023 World Endurance Championship this weekend as the FIA series reaches the Temple of Speed at Monza in Italy for their fifth round of the season and their third six-hour race of the year.

Having started at Sebring in mid-March before moving across to Europe for rounds at both Portimao and Spa Francorchamps, the last run out for the Hypercar, LMP2 and GTE Am grid was of course just a few weeks ago at Le Mans where the ACO celebrated its centennial event in front of a capacity grid.

This weekend’s entry list obviously drops down again to the mainly the full season entries featuring just thirty-six entries across the board but with one conspicuously fewer GTE Am entries.

Having taken over the Northwest AMR entry following the retirement of Paul Dalla Lana to the class and the sport after the second round of the season at Portimao, the Heart of Racing team eagerly snapped up the opportunity of getting their foot within the WEC/ACO door with the #98 car entry having somewhat tentatively knocked at those very doors just the season before.

Competing within their rebranded #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE for the first time at Spa, their new driver line up of Ian James, Alex Riberas and Daniel Mancinelli quickly got to grips with their new package to finish mid-table in P7 at the first time of asking. To move onto the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first-time last month, that application and reward continued as the same crew finished just four laps down to the eventual class winner in P6.

This weekend, the #98 Heart of Racing car will not be in attendance as the team will be competing within the latest round of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship from the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Circuit in eastern Canada. That we find a little strange as although their IMSA commitment started before their WEC opportunity, next year’s restriction to just two entries per OEM manufacturer within the new LMGT3 Class might see their preference to be absent in Italy count against them (and Aston Martin Racing) in the long run as only Riberas is doubled booked for driving duties this weekend. We hope not!

That leaves the two TF Sport prepared AMR Vantage GTE entries of the #25 ORT with TF car of Ahmad Al Harthy, Michael Dinan and Charlie Eastwood as well as the #777 D’Station Racing AMR of Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii and Casper Stevenson.

Whilst the #25 finished upon the podium at Le Mans for an incredible P2 finish, the #777 car again found their car being ruled out during the night with technical issues after the chassis issues of last year. For the Japanese based team, Monza has been good to them historically within the Championship with Hoshino/Fujii and back then Andrew Watson finishing third in the 2021 season.

After the results of Le Mans, the domineering #33 Corvette of reigning WEC GTE Am Drivers Champion Ben Keating sails high above the rest of the class – some seventy-four points ahead of the #25 ORT with TF Aston Martin in second. The D’Station Racing crew need a decent points haul this weekend if only to overhaul their new American based stablemates who already sit nineteen points above them but with Stevenson having resampled the taste of champagne after last weekend’s 24 Hours of Spa, that young Englishman will be out to impress again!

Fresh Balance of Performance data released by the WEC earlier this week sees no major tweaks being made other than the usual success weight penalties being applied to the previous round’s podium winners so that now sees the #33 Corvette running 45kg heavier than the #25 ORT car.

Track action will begin on Friday with the first Free Practice session before Qualifying to end of Saturday with the start of Sundays six-hour race being waved off at 11:30Hrs local.

Wonder what colour the #25 car will be this time..........?

Photo credits – Andrew Lofthouse / Drew Gibson
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