Another podium gained but championships lost for Heart of Racing in IMSA

Monday, September 18, 2023


Yesterday’s penultimate round of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship proved itself to be another successful one for the three Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTD crews that entered, but the return to good results has come a little too late for one.

Racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the weekend again saw both Heart of Racing crews compete along that of the Andretti Autosport AMR amongst the forty-eight strong, five class grid of the American series.

Free Practice one again saw both the #27 Heart car of Roman De Angelis / Marco Sorenson and the #94 Andretti car of Jared Andretti / Gabby Chaves apparently struggle with set up and pace whilst the #23 Heart car of Ross Gunn / Alex Riberas appeared equally underwhelming. That didn’t change much as the grid progressed through Free Practice two.

Qualifying again saw the #23 car of Riberas continue with its P4 in GTD Pro class positioning whilst the #27 car of De Angelis did at least hold onto a higher place during the early laps of the session to eventually qualifying in P6. Andretti meanwhile was qualified P14, presumably hoping that he would make it through to the end of his stint for the first time this season.

Going into yesterday’s two hours forty-minute race became something of a scrappy affair for the prototypes up front as contact at turn 1/lap 1 brought out an early Safety Car for debris with everyone losing ten minutes of race time to that clean up exercise.

The early laps saw an amateur driver leading the entire GTD Pro and GTD field on pace alone as the BMW M4 GT3 again showed off its dominance but whilst the prototypes grabbed all the camera angles, both Heart cars had moved up to P4 within both of their respected classes.

With just over forty minutes gone, both Heart cars pitted for the first time with De Angelis just taking fuel and tyres whilst the #23 did the same and swapped out Riberas for Gunn. That move also came just before another FCY as a P2 car was left broadside across the track at the final corner onto the start straight.

Despite that car being able to get going again, the race would be neutralised for an incredible twenty-five minutes as Race Control toyed with the overall running order and wave arounds! During that time the #94 Andretti car had also pitted for full service and a driver change that allowed Chaves to run her first actual laps of her brief AMR powered season so far having seen the car eliminated from the race in the early stages during their two previous showings.

Once the race went back to green however, the benefit of pitting before the Safety Car became truly apparent for the Heart team as both cars elevated themselves up to P2 for the #23 car and P1 in GTD for the #27. The #94 would however, just retain their previous P12 position.

As the race encroached into its final hour, the #23 car of Gunn had slipped back to P3 in GTD Pro but was at least still in visual range of the car in front with a healthy gap to the car behind whilst the #27 car (now with Sorenson aboard) slipped down to P4 but with tighter gaps front and rear but with many cars playing the championship long game, it was clear that the GTD Pro leading Lexus would not be challenging Gunn too hard for the final step of the podium this time around.

Eventually the chequered flag fell, and it was another P2 podium for the #23 car of Gunn and Riberas whilst the #27 car was unable to haul themselves back up beyond their P4 running position. The #94 would also finish their first IMSA race for a credible P12 position.

Championship wise, it’s all a bit too late for the Heart team in both GTD Pro and GTD as the points deficit for each crew within the overall Champiosnhip standing as well as the Sprint Cup for the #27 car all too great now to overcome with the points still available.

Photo credits – Team / social media / J Price Photo
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