Heart of Racing come out on top after an eventful Watkins Glen

Monday, June 24, 2024


The Heart of Racing Team managed both the challenging conditions and the competition to fight back from an early race penalty and win the Sahlen’s Six Hours At The Glen with Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas on Sunday.

The victory marks the first IMSA win with the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3, which debuted with Heart of Racing at the 24 Hours At Daytona in January.

Gunn and Riberas teamed up in the No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 once again combining for a podium finish in Detroit earlier this month. Gunn qualified for the pair on a warm Saturday afternoon securing a third place starting position in the GT field.

Gunn drove the first two stints remaining in the top three positions throughout his time behind the wheel. When Riberas took over, he immediately had to come back through the pits for a drive through penalty as a result for working outside the No. 23 pit box.

Riberas was able to navigate through traffic cleanly, and put the great team strategy to work as he was able to sit second when a caution came out. After a debate between staying on wet or switching to slicks, Riberas took the green flag from the front of the GTD PRO field but pitted the next lap for slick tires, forcing the No. 23 Aston Martin a lap down.

Gunn took over with two hours to go when the fourth caution of the race came about due to rain as several cars went off track. IMSA race control red flagged the field for standing water with an hour and twenty minutes to go - Gunn was in ninth. When the field went back to green with 36 minutes remaining, Gunn had moved up to second after others took to pit lane for slick tires and fuel.

The No. 23 Heart of Racing Team made the call to remain out on slicks, having pitted just nine laps before the rain had arrived. After battling the No. 4 Corvette for the final 15 laps, the Corvette dove into the pits from the lead with one lap to go, leaving Gunn to defend from the McLaren behind them. Gunn took the checkered flag in first, winning the Sahlen’s Six Hours At The Glen.

“It's hard to really describe in words the emotions of the team right now,” said Riberas. “These guys deserve it more than anybody. I'm so happy for the team, it was truly a big team effort and one hell of a race. I love Ross (Gunn) like a brother so anything I can do to get him this championship that he deserves, I will do. We are in it together and we're going to get this championship!”

“Wow, what a day for the Heart of Racing. I'm just super proud of everybody,” said Gunn. “We had a tricky start to the race, and again things came back to us towards the end. I think the team showed a true spirit and ‘never give up’ attitude. Alex drove a phenomenal race once again, and, like in Detroit, was given some tough things to deal with. I had some easier stints at the start, and then obviously the rain came down towards the end, and that put everyone in a tricky position. We came here with a strong car and a strong package. The team was operating at an incredibly high level, and I'm just so proud of everyone. We start the second half of the season with a really good shot, we just need to keep pushing.”

The endurance trio of Roman De Angelis, Zacharie Robichon and Ian James reunited in the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3. James qualified eleventh in a field of 21 GTD entries.

James was behind the wheel of the No. 27 Heart of Racing machine for the first hour and a half of the six hour race, driving up to seventh before handing the Aston Martin to De Angelis on lap 78. De Angelis maintained the seventh place position when Robichon took over on the next stint.

Unfortunately a sudden rainstorm came over the track. Robichon hit the brakes to avoid contact with a competitor in front of him when he spun and was impacted by another GT car, forcing the No. 27 Aston Martin to the garage where it later retired after completing 82 laps.

“A very unfortunate ending to our race,” said De Angelis. “We were in a pretty good position at the time and the car was feeling decent. The team was doing a really good job. We knew the weather conditions were going to be interesting, but I think that would have benefited us. It’s just an unfortunate incident, I’m glad Zach is okay. I feel as though I’m saying this for the fifth or sixth time this season, but it seems like we can't get any luck at all.

“I feel sorry for the guys, but I just hope we can come back at some point and get them what they deserve – hopefully my home race at CTMP brings some good luck,” continued De Angelis. “I think if there's anywhere that it should happen, it should be there! I know the track quite well and I've had success there in the past few years so let's hope that's our place to get a win or at least a podium. It would be great to get a win at home.”

Source material - HoRT
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