Change in Championship lead as Bell persists but Chouest suffers issues in GT America

Sunday, August 20, 2023


The GT America Series again provided us with two exciting forty-minute races around the beautiful Wisconsin circuit of Road America this weekend as a mighty eight Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 pack made up two thirds of the GT4 grid.

Solo driven of course with no scheduled stops for the bronze ranked gentleman drivers, the weekend would ultimately provide us with a change in the GT4 Championship leader as some consolidated their position whilst others would see their confidence and race machinery affected by the events of other races.

Having skipped the Nashville round, the #8 Flying Lizard AMR of Elias Sabo was the first to show his pace qualifying upon pole for the weekends opening race with the #25 Heart of Racing AMR of Gray Newell alongside and the championship contending car of #2 Jason Bell strategically ahead of Championship leader, Ross Chouest aboard his #50 Chouest Povoledo Racing AMR in P7.

The weekend welcomed a number of familiar faces from #TeamAMR from other series as Scott Blind brought his Ruckus Racing outfit to the SRO series with his #045 Archangel supported Aston, with Brady Behrman swapping to GT America with his #428 Van Der Steur Aston and with Todd Parriott continuing his early AMR Vantage GT4 route with his #13 GMG Racing entry.

Early moves saw Bell quickly move up to P3 as Newell dropped back whilst debutant Blind was giving Chouest cause for concern as he battled with his uncharacteristically low starting position as the Aston Martin contingent soon became 1-2-3 in class. Halfway through a spin for Parriott saw him narrowly avoid either contact or becoming stuck but Savage wouldn’t be so lucky next time around as a passing GT3 distracted him into a spin where his #009 car would end up in the gravel.

That brought of the Safety Car for recovery, going back to green with just ten minutes remaining when another errant GT3 collected the Porsche of Rob Holland from the GT4 battle right in front of Newell, forcing him to slow and allow an opportunist passed to collect a P3 finish for his efforts as the race finished behind the Safety Car.

Sabo would claim the win, with Bell in second and Chouest in third.

Sunday morning’s race would be equally hot and humid despite the early start as the grid was set from yesterday’s fastest laps. That would see Bell starting P2, Sabo P3 and Chouest P5 and that had all the makings of another great race.

With the Camaro out in front, it was the case of who was next best as that car clearly had the early legs over the V8’s of the Aston Martins for the opening half of the race.

Recovering from his first race incident, the Porsche of rob Holland was soon passed Bell for P2 before contesting and then passing the Camaro for the class lead in only a couple of laps as four Astons battled it out for P3 to P7. Just before the halfway stage however, the Camaro suddenly lost power and dropped back through the order and into eventual retirement as Holland continued to dominate at the front with no ability to respond from either Bell or Sabo.

Further down the order, Savage was having a better race as he pressed the #21 Toyota for P7 in class having then dropped the #13 GMG Racing Aston. Behrman’s transfer to the solo GT America Series would not go as smoothly as Saturday’s opener and issues forced him to park his #428 car early.

Still struggling with his #50 car since the start, Chouest would see both Blind and Newell pass him towards the end that would see him down to P6 in class which would mean that he would lose the Championship lead to Bell as the #2 Flying Lizard car finished P2 to Holland and with his team-mate Sabo in third.

Just off the podium again for Newell but Blind would again come home in P5, two terrific results from someone who had not contested at this level before with his new AMR Vantage GT4.

Two more rounds at Sebring and Indianapolis see out the 2023 season so the next round around the infamous bumps will prove to be pivotable for the two championship contesting Astons ahead of the season finale around the banked oval of infield of Indy.

Photo credits – Series / Teams
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