No joy for the AMR Vantage GT4 runners at this weekends Michelin Pilot Challenge race at VIR

Sunday, August 27, 2023


Yesterday proved itself not to be the day of the Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 as the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge conducted its third from last round of the season around the beautiful Virginia International Raceway.

Despite what the live timing said, there were only four such cars entered – that from the #19 Van Der Steur team for drivers Rory Van Der Steur and Austin McCusker, the #88 Archangel prepared car of Todd Coleman and Billy Johnson and the two Team TGM Aston’s for #46 Hugh and Matt Plumb and the #64 of Ted Giovanis and Owen Trinkler.

For the #88 crew, the meeting would start badly and never really improve as they were forced to sit out both Free Practice sessions with technical issues before then only getting in two timed laps during qualifying to finish completely off the pace, last in GS and some thirteen seconds down.

The best placed qualifier came from Rory Van der Steur in his #19 in P7 although the team did say that apparent oil on track during that session had hampered his time so there was hope for the days later, two-hour race.

Despite the tight, twisty and undulating characteristics of the circuit, the opening laps were surprising clean with early places made up by both the #19 and the #46 cars which placed them up to P5 and P7 respectively, but trouble would never be too far away as (predominantly) cars with the TCR based class hit problem after problem. 

A caution just before the minimum time mark split the grid with strategy as some boxed for service whilst other risk it and stayed out – but then, even those which pitted early would have to re-pit quickly again anyway as their ‘lesser’ abled driver was still aboard.

The midway point of the race saw both the #19 and #64 lose out as Van Der Steur had sustained rear end defuser damage that at their stop, pit lane officials forced the team to make the necessary repairs before letting the car go again and the #64 TGM car of Trinkler would get a drive through penalty for earlier contact which had spun out one of the then leading BMW’s.

For the Aston Martin fraternity, that would be about as exciting as it would get as for much of the second half of the race there wasn’t even an AMR within the top ten. Fortunately, that was achieved by race end with the #46 Plumb driven car finished P10. For their persistence, the #19 would regain positions to finish P16, the #64 P22 and the #88 car a doggedly determined P23.

Next race will be at Indianapolis in three weeks’ time.

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