Another hard and fruitless slog for the Aston Martin GS runners at Road America

Monday, August 07, 2023


Whilst there was cause for celebration within the IMSA Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTD fraternity at Road America, it was a slightly different matter for the six AMR Vantage GT4 crews as they embarked upon something of another painful exercise by the end of yesterday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge Race.

Having not been at Lime Rock Park this season, Road America was the first time the combined GS and TCR based classes had competed together since Canadian Tires Motorsport Park in early July and hopes were again high after Qualifying that would see three such teams start within the top ten on track ahead of yesterday afternoons (unusually) start.

Deputising for a COVID stricken Moisey Uretsky would see the former Notlad AMR racer Pat Gallagher claim the highest starting position of the six in P5 although that would be moved up to P4 before the start as the #13 Porsche was later to be found underweight after Qualifying.

That also moved everyone else up one with the #19 Van Der Steur car of Rory Van Der Steur next up two places behind with the #47 Team TGM car of Hugh Plumb rounding off the top ten in P9.

A great start was had at the front as the #44 Accelerating Performance AMR of Gallagher first went forward – then back on track, to be passed by the #19 car for position in just the opening few corners. That would quickly unravel itself however as the #44 used the #19 to slow into the first tight left hander but that caused the #19 to tap the #69 McLaren ahead into a spin where it was soon ‘collected’ by both the #09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin of Ramin Abdolvahabi and the #83 Porsche. 

Those impacts placed all three cars into immediate retirement, placed the race into a prolonged period behind the Safety car as the clean-up operation continued and earned the #44 car a drive through penalty for their efforts.

Getting back to green with an hour forty minutes remaining, the racing was again intense but would gradually see the remaining Aston Martins ebb away from the front with Van Der Steur getting a warning of his own for blocking on track in his attempts to stay ahead. Whilst both the #46 TGM and #44 AMR’s were able to race each other, the then leading #95 BMW M4 began to stretch its lead from the Porsches and Mercedes giving a distant chase behind.

With minimum driver time being made, both the #44 and #64 Aston Martins were some of the first to pit, some cutting it very fine with their actual minimum driver time on track which allowed all the crews more professionally abled drivers to take charge with still eighty minutes remaining.

Despite his professionalism, a simple error from Billy Johnson aboard the #88 Archangel AMR that he shares with Todd Coleman saw that car run wide out of the kink to over-correct and side swipe the retaining wall upon the other side of the track, condemning them to the back of a recovery truck and the race back behind the Safety Car. That eventually allowed the remaining GS classed cars to fuel again until the end but by now the damage was already done as the #44 car was again the highest order AMR in P13 with Michael Cooper now behind the wheel with the #46 TGM car of Matt Plumb now just ahead of the #19 car of Austin McCusker in P15 and P19 respectively.

Team TGM’s ‘troubles’ at the circuit continued from Owen Trinkler’s earlier Free Practice off that caused significant damage to that chassis for the #46 car to also suffer a technical issue at the same corner that would put them out of the race with still forty minutes remaining.

That obviously left just three Aston Martins within the race and whilst none would suffer race ending trouble and strife like their peers, their results would continue to be nothing to write home about as the chassis continued with its performance incapability’s when compared to the likes of the new BMW M4 GT4.

Strangely, it would be the #64 Team TGM car of Trinkler and Ted Giovanis who would eventually finish as the highest placed Aston Martin in P14 after having started the race from the rear of the class for changing drivers. The #19 Van Der Steur would be next in P15 in class whilst the trouble hit #44 Accelerating Performance AMR would eventually finish P16.

These results compound the season long problem suffered by all of the AMR Vantage GT4 runners (that of performance – or lack of) and has seen their highest placed drivers drop to P9 in the overall driver’s championship as the series now looks to VIR later at the end of August. Again strangely and despite their very early exit, the #09 Stoner Car Care crew of Abdolvahabi and Rob Ecklin find themselves leading the GS Bronze Cup table from the sole benefit of races entered!!

Photo credits – Team / Michelin / Series
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