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[1-May_22_Checkered_Flag.jpg] May 2022

Alex Riberas takes the checkered flag for the Heart of Racing team in GTD Pro. He and co-driver Ross Gunn almost made it look easy with what one commentator called a ‘flawless performance’.

Photo by Michael L. Levitt, LAT Images

Dancin’ in the Streets
Heart of Racing Aston Takes Class Win at Long Beach

by Bruce Vild

LONG BEACH, Calif., Apr. 8-10 — Move over, Porsche. You too, Mercedes. And you, Lexus and BMW, and even you, Corvette. The one to watch is Aston Martin.

After a podium finish at Daytona and a win at the WEC race at Sebring, the marque ended another race brilliantly on the street course in Long Beach. Drivers Alex Riberas and Ross Gunn from the Heart of Racing took their #23 Vantage GT3 to victory in IMSA’s GTD Pro class in what Gunn called “a very clean race.”

Well, it was for them, but not so much for some of the other contenders.

The pole-sitting #3 Corvette had to serve a drive-through penalty that surely cost it the win when it was cited for “losing control of equipment” during a pit stop. It seems a wayward wheel nut lost while the Vette’s tires were being changed bounced into the path of the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche about to exit pit lane, puncturing the Porsche’s radiator and sidelining it for the rest of the race.

Paul Holton and Jon Miller kept up a strong run in the GTD class in their #59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3, with Miller qualifying 2nd, and handing the car over to Holton who kept it there until the last half-hour of the race. There was a long pit stop, speculation that Holton had hit a wall, and then the car’s retirement.

Another McLaren, the #70 entry from Inception Racing, had its own drama. In the last 20 minutes of the race Inception’s Frederik Schandorff, running 5th, brushed past a Lamborghini and set off a chain reaction that drove Stefan McAleer’s #32 Mercedes into a tire wall. Schandorff lost four positions with a drive-through penalty for the incident and ended up 9th in the GTD field of 14. Ironically he had also set the fastest lap in class.

And then there was the Heart of Racing’s sister car, #27, running in GTD with Roman De Angelis and Maxime Martin. Qualifying 6th, De Angelis moved up as far as 2nd before the driver change to Martin. The pit rotation cost them a position, but Martin had his eyes set on the win. The Aston was back in 2nd and on the tail of class-leader Bryan Sellers’ BMW when the two had contact. The Aston lost its left steering arm and side-swiped a concrete wall.

Sellers, apparently unscathed, went on to win but #27 came to a halt and did not finish.

Another BMW, this one in GTD Pro and run by BMW M Team RLL, had its 4th place class finish nullified when one of its drivers failed to meet the 35-minute drive time minimum. They dropped to the back of the pack.

And last but not least was Sebastien Bourdais, who started at the top of the grid in his #01 Cadillac DPi but within minutes took a turn too wide around a Porsche and hit a wall. He did recover, though several positions down — and made a spectacular comeback, charging up the line until he relinquished the car to Renger van der Zande again in the lead. Van der Zande took the car to Victory Lane. Talk about coming from behind!

[2-May_22_Gunn_Riberas.jpg] Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas at the top of the podium.
Photo by Jake Galstad, LAT Images

The challenges of a street course

Long Beach was the first of the sprint races in the 2022 IMSA season, conducted on city streets with a duration of only one hour and 40 minutes — 100 minutes, if you will, very different from the 24-hour and 12-hour endurance races on purpose-built tracks that preceded it.

The first practice had no fewer than four red flags in a one-hour session as cars went into runoffs. More runoffs followed in the second session, along with several trackside pit exit violations.

Qualifying wasn’t exactly unblemished either, but familiarity with the course — and some discipline — became evident as new class lap records were set in GTD and in the fastest class, DPi. Tom Blomqvist started the trend in DPi in his #60 Acura DPi with a time of 1:11.248, but that was quickly surpassed and Bourdais’ Cadillac wound up besting that by almost two full seconds. (Which is why Bourdais started in the lead.)

There were three yellow flags during the race, the first for some curbing that had come loose on the track, the second for when they fetched Maxime Martin, and the third for the #32 Mercedes and debris on the track.

Prospects for Aston Martin

The Heart of Racing’s result with the #23 Vantage was the first win in the new GTD Pro for the team and for Aston Martin.

“It’s been a tough start to the year,” commented Gunn, reflecting on the disappointing finishes for the team at Daytona and Sebring. At Daytona, the podium position for Aston had gone not to them but to Magnus Racing, and at Sebring, the win was in the WEC race, not IMSA.

“But [here] we were able to capitalize on some good fortune for a change,” he continued. “We were able to do that thanks to a great strategy, an awesome car and great teamwork.”

Huw Tasker, head of AMR Partner Racing, said, “It was incredibly unfortunate for the sister car, but both Vantages were in podium contention and that is all you can ask for in such a competitive series as IMSA.”

Not only is the sun shining on the Heart of Racing, but Aston can be proud of Magnus Racing’s showing at Daytona, and recent outcomes in the Michelin Pilot Challenge (which sat out Long Beach), where the marque currently leads the 2022 Grand Sport manufacturer standings thanks to two podium finishes by Volt Racing. Volt’s #7 Vantage GT4 and drivers Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman are tied in that series for the team and driver lead, too.

We at the Marque are looking forward to the rest of the season for both McLarens as well.

[Sources for this report include Lee Driggers of Pit Notes and David Phillips and Mark Robinson of IMSA. Thanks to all.]

[1-Apr_22_Alpine_Elf.jpg] April 2022

The face of victory in the WEC 1,000 Miles of Sebring — the Gibson-engined #36 Alpine A480, winner overall.

Photo by Colin Sword

Sebring... Truly ‘Super’ Once Again

by Jack Webster, Eddie LePine & Bruce Vild

SEBRING, Fla., Mar. 16-19 — It was nice to get back for SuperSebring 2022 after the trials and tribulations of the past couple of years — namely, all the cancellations and problems connected with the pandemic. This March felt more like a “real” Sebring week.

SuperSebring had several major events rolled into a single extended weekend. The two big ones were the FIA WEC (World Endurance Cup) race, “the 1,000 Miles of Sebring,” and IMSA’s traditional 12 Hours of Sebring.

Of course, with health restrictions removed, a massive number of fans showed up for both races. The WEC race, lasting either 1,000 miles or eight hours, whichever came first, was held on Friday, starting at noon, and the IMSA 12 Hours ran on its traditional Saturday date.

First, the WEC race

The Alpine Elf Team led qualifying, with their Gibson-powered #36 Alpine A480 taking pole overall and in the highly competitive Hypercar class. The class included two hybrids from Toyota Gazoo Racing that have for years been at the top of their game.

It was hot and humid for race day, with the potential for thunderstorms late in the day (which ended up playing a major role in the race). Alpine Elf’s drivers — Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthew Vaxiviere — looked solid from the race’s start and seemed headed for a good finish, and possibly the win over the favored Toyotas.

And win they did, after two red flags stopped competition for different reasons. One was for an accident involving José Maria Lopez in the #7 Toyota hypercar. The car had contact with a Porsche, spun, came back on the track, and then ran full-tilt into a tire wall after the front suspension apparently collapsed and its steering failed. It flipped with a lot of debris everywhere, but Lopez was unhurt. (In fact, he was well enough to co-drive a Cadillac DPi the following day in the 12 Hours!)

[3-Apr_22_Stormy_Weather.jpg] The weather brought an early halt to the WEC race.
Photo by Jack Webster & Eddie Pine

The second was for the weather (it was a very wicked-looking sky), which caused the race finally to be called and ended with about 45 minutes left to run. The rapidly approaching storm made it too dangerous for marshals and workers to be out on the circuit.

Red flags aside, Alpine Elf’s win certainly was not handed to them. They were running up front for the entire race and were chased aggressively by the remaining Toyota hypercar, #8, which had to make an unplanned fuel stop that spoiled its chances for the win.

The 1,000 Miles of Sebring was also a very successful event for Aston Martin. The marque finished 1-2 in the GTE Am class, with the #98 Vantage of NorthWest AMR taking the top spot, piloted by Paul Dalla Lana, Nicki Thiim and Dave Pittard.

It was NorthWest AMR’s 50th FIA-WEC class win and the first win for the Vantage at Sebring. The TF Sport #33 Vantage of Ben Keating, Florian Latorre and Marco Sørensen finished 2nd, after Keating (more on him later) put the car on pole for the race.

“This is a great start to the season for the Vantage,” said Huw Tasker, Head of Aston Martin Customer Racing, after the race.

“To record a historic 50th win in WEC, take 2nd place, and secure pole position, is about as good as it can get, and this is exactly the right tone to set for the season ahead!

“We’re pleased for Paul Dalla Lana, who has waited a long time to secure a victory with this version of the Vantage GTE,” Tasker added. “And Ben Keating ran him hard all the way! Both look like they will be title contenders this season.”

In the Gibson-only LMP2 class, honors were taken by the #23 ORECA 07 of Paul di Resta, Oliver Jarvis and Joshua Pierson. (Yes, that Oliver Jarvis.) Driving for United Autosports USA, they came out on top of a strong 15-car LMP2 field.

[2-Apr_22_NW_Aston.jpg] The #98 Aston Martin Vantage won its class (GTE Am) in the WEC race.
Photo by Colin Sword

IMSA’s 12 Hours

More on the aforementioned Ben Keating, who put the #33 Aston on pole and finished 2nd in the WEC race.

After running the WEC race on Friday, he then ran the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports #52 ORECA 07 LMP2 in IMSA’s 12 Hours of Sebring and, with teammates Mikkel Jensen and Scott Huffaker, won the class in that event. The man is truly an ironman.

The Sebring class win for PR1 was their third in a row. Following his 2021 LMP2 Championship, it was a great result for Keating, who credited Jensen and Huffaker with making the car “easy to drive” during practice for the race.

Said Keating, “Those two guys worked on the car the whole time. We went from a car that was really tough to drive to a car that was really easy to drive. We just had a great car... [and] for everybody on the team to have a perfect race, it’s special.”

As in the WEC, LMP2 cars competing in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC), of which the 12 Hours is a part, are all powered by U.K.-sourced Gibson engines.

Some other results:

Cadillac won the 12 Hours overall, with Cadillac Racing’s #02 DPi co-driven by Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Neil Jani. Daytona-winning British drivers Oliver Jarvis (another ironman — see above) and Tom Blomqvist finished 5th in their #60 Acura DPi. As Jarvis helped win the WEC’s LMP2 class on Friday, the week for him was not a total disappointment.

Also on Saturday, Inception Racing’s #70 McLaren 720S GT3 managed a 5th place finish in GTD, followed on the same lap by the Magnus Racing’s #44 Aston Martin Vantage.

Both cars started from the back of the grid — having not posted qualifying times — so these results aren’t bad. Magnus’ Andy Lally was running 5th at the eight-hour mark and might have been headed for the podium had he not had minor contact with another car. This led to a slow puncture and an unscheduled pit stop for new tires, the team ultimately finishing 6th.

[4-Apr_22_LMP2.jpg] PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ #52 ORECA 07, LMP2 class winner in the 12 Hours.
Photo by Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

For Heart of Racing, who had Aston Martin entries in both GTD (#27) and GTD Pro (#23), it was a disappointing event as both cars ran into problems that took them “behind the wall,” i.e., back to the garage.

The #23 car’s woes started early in the race. Driver Alex Riberas took it back to the pits after only seven minutes on the track after “smelling oil or something burning” — a possible electrical issue, the team figured.

It was a long stop. The Aston eventually rejoined the race, but ultimately retired — with 13 minutes left on the 12-hour clock. This had to be heartbreaking, as Riberas had qualified #23 4th.

The GTD entry, helmed by Roman De Angelis, Ian James and Tom Gamble, finished the race near the bottom of their class, taking 15th place.

Aston shines in the Michelin Pilot Challenge

As readers of the Marque know, this year the only British game in town for IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge (IMPC) series is Aston Martin. Gone are the McLarens, their teams and drivers either driving other cars in the IMPC or moving up to the IWSC.

However, there are good results to report from the Sebring IMPC race on Friday, the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120.

First, driver Trent Hindman had a late-race charge to 2nd place in the #7 Aston GT4 that put him and co-driver Alan Brynjolfsson in a tie for the lead in Drivers’ Championship, and their team, Volt Racing, in a similar tie for the lead in the Team Championship. Hindman was also credited with the fastest lap of the race.

Next, NTE Sport’s Josh Hurley and Manny Franco shared a top-10 finish, their best result to date, in the team’s #12 Aston.

[5-Apr_22_VOLT.jpg] Volt Racing’s #7 Aston GT4 battled to a 2nd-place finish in the IMPC race.
Photo by Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

Veteran Aston team Automatic Racing finished further down the field, 21st, with Rob Ecklin and Ramin Abdolvahabi in their #09 car. Sadly, their second entry, #27 with driver Paul Kiebler, had contact with an Audi only four minutes into the race and never recovered.

Aston now leads the Manufacturers’ Championship — against Ford, Toyota, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Chevrolet.

Also of note...

Two very noteworthy and famous British racing drivers were inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame during the race meeting: Andy Wallace and David Hobbs.

Hobbs, who of course is the legendary driver and Formula One broadcaster, was a very popular choice. Andy Wallace won the race twice and finished on the podium 10 times in his career. It was great to see Andy return to Sebring after all these years.

RIP Vic Elford

And finally, we want to pay tribute to Vic Elford, who lost his battle with cancer just prior to Sebring week. “Quick Vic” was an outstanding driver and personality, and his friendly manner and wonderful stories will be greatly missed.

Vic won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1971, driving the famous Martini Porsche 917K, and we were honored to have been able to call him our friend for many years. Many of the cars that ran in Sebring races during the week carried special decals in honor of Vic. It was a fitting tribute to a man who was such a part of Sebring history.

[1-Mar_22_44_Aston.jpg] March 2022

Magnus Racing’s #44, which finished 2nd in class.
Photo by Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

Brit Success at Rolex 24!

by Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 29-30 — The 60th-anniversary running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, the first round of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, is now in the history books. And history was indeed made as the very popular Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian team took their #60 Acura DPi to Victory Lane after a very eventful race.

Very hot competition made up for the chilly air temperatures throughout the entire 24-hour race. In the end, the overall race win was only determined for sure with the drop of the checkered flag, with the #60 Acura DPi besting another Acura DPi, the #10 of Konica Minolta’s team, by only 3.028 seconds.

British manufacturers were well represented in the very strong 61-car Rolex 24 starting grid, with entries in both the GTD and GTD Pro classes and engines provided by Gibson Technologies in LMP2. While there were no U.K. origins for the chassis and engines competing in the DPi class, there were several Brits driving, including two who wound up winning — Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist.

Magnus Racing entered an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in GTD, #44, and finished 2nd in class, the highest finish ever for Aston Martin in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The driving team of Americans John Potter, Spencer Pumpelly and Andy Lally joined Brit Jonathan Adam and finished just over 12-and-a-half seconds behind the class-winning Wright Motorsports Porsche after a flawless 24-hour sprint.

The Heart of Racing Aston Martin team entered two Aston Martin Vantage GT3s, one in GTD Pro and one in GTD. Darren Turner lent a hand in the GTD car, #27, co-driving with Roman De Angelis, Ian James and Tom Gamble. They finished 9th in a class of 22.

Rounding out the Aston Martin contingent was a fourth entry, #98 from Northwest AMR, with veterans Paul Dalla Lana, Charlie Eastwood, Nicki Thiim and David Pittard at the helm. They finished 12th in GTD.

Another British manufacturer, McLaren, was represented by the single-car entries of Crucial Motorsports and Inception Racing in GTD, both of which entered McLaren 720S GT3s. Inception’s Jordan Pepper, Brendan Iribe, Frederik Schandorff and Ollie Millroy, in car #70, grabbed an impressive top-five finish.

[2-Mar_22_British_Podium.jpg] The suits say ‘Acura’ but the flags say U.K. as Brits Jarvis and Blomqvist celebrate their overall victory in the Rolex 24 with teammates Pagenaud and Castroneves.
Photo by Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

The view from Victory Lane

Of course, all the attention at the finish of the Rolex 24 was focused on car #10 driver Helio Castroneves, who had just won the classic American endurance race for the second year in a row. Helio did his traditional “Spiderman” fence-climbing routine at the conclusion of the race to the delight of the large crowd at Daytona.

However, not to be forgotten were the other drivers that contributed very substantially to the victory for his very popular Meyer Shank team, namely Frenchman Simon Pagenaud and the aforementioned Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis.

Of course, British Marque readers will be very familiar with Oliver Jarvis, who piloted the Multimatic-AER Mazda DPi to success in the past. With Mazda’s departure from the DPi ranks, Jarvis was able to get a great ride with Acura and the Meyer Shank organization. This was the 6th IMSA win and second Rolex 24 win (but first overall) for Jarvis, and the first IMSA win for fellow Brit Blomqvist — the very first Rolex 24 overall win in his very first start.

Blomqvist handed the winning car off to Castroneves for the final hour of the race, which turned out to be very tense and the on-track battle between the two leading Acuras extremely tight.

Said Blomqvist, “Obviously, it would have been fantastic to finish the race, but I’d been in the car quite a while. And I was pretty cooked at that point. And I was busting for a wee for the last two hours. That didn’t make my life very easy. But Helio had been super strong all race, so it wasn’t like we were going to give anything away there. And when you’re pretty cooked, it’s never... you can only mess it up, let’s say.

“Helio did a fantastic job. And I think ultimately it just came down to... it was still an hour or a bit to go in the race. And it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? So I think ultimately we made the right decision.”

Jarvis, when asked for his comments, recalled his Rolex class win, but said he really wanted the overall win.

“It’s such a special event. Special race. To win it overall is an amazing feeling. And to do it with Mike (Shank) and the team… it’s such a real team effort. I was so impressed, sat up on the pit wall, throughout the race. It was so calm and methodical, the way they went about approaching the race. It was like they had won the race ten times already.

“I wasn’t on the pit wall for the last hour, but up until that point, absolutely faultless, calm heads,” he added. “That’s what wins you races. Full credit to the team.

“It’s been an amazing experience so far. We’ve still got a full season to go, a lot of hard work to go. I’ve still got a lot to learn. New to the car. And I just hope we can keep on getting better. This is the first of many!”

It is going to be a strong year for British drivers and teams in IMSA competition if the Rolex 24 at Daytona is any indication. A total of 22 English and Scottish drivers took part in the first race of the season, and two of them ended up in Victory Lane. With representation in both GTD and GTD Pro, Aston Martin looked particularly strong as a manufacturer, and we are sure we will see them on the top step of the podium shortly.

Next event: the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, along with the FIA-WEC 1000 Mile race, to be held at Sebring International Raceway this month.

We will be reporting from there.

[3-Mar_22_IMPC_Volt.jpg] Volt Racing fielded its #7 Aston, beginning 17th, and finishing 7th.
Photo by Jack Webster

Four Astons, No McLarens in IMPC Opener

by Bruce Vild

DAYTONA BEACH, Jan. 27-28 — The first race of the year in IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge, the BMW M Endurance Challenge at Daytona, was run during the extended Rolex 24 weekend, and this writer noted there were some changes made.

First, the Astons from Volt Racing and Automatic Racing (two of them, in Automatic’s case) have returned, and they were joined at Daytona by a Vantage GT4 from NTE Sport. But the familiar McLarens from Motorsports in Action (#3) and AWA (#13) were absent.

Motorsports in Action has handed over its IMSA responsibilities to Infinity Autosport, and the team is now known as JG Wentworth Racing by Infinity Autosport. (Fans will remember the distinctive, and quite attractive dark green-and-white Wentworth livery on the McLaren.) Their car is now a Toyota Supra GT4.

Sheena Monk is still driving for the team, and at Daytona she partnered with Kyle Marcelli. The Toyota has inherited the McLaren’s #3.

And AWA, along with drivers Kuno Wittmer and Oley Fidani, has graduated to prototype racing in the IWSC’s LMP3 class — where the team finished the Rolex 24 in the top five.

Changes aside, the Michelin enduro at Daytona was a four-hour race and qualifying took place the day before, as opposed to the Rolex 24 that had its qualifying session at “the Roar” a weekend earlier.

Qualifying was disappointing in that none of the Aston teams were in the top five. Automatic Racing’s Jon Branam claimed the best result, 12th overall and 12th in the Grand Sport (GS) class. Volt’s Alan Brynjolfsson only managed 17th overall and in class, followed immediately by NTE Sport’s Manny Franco, and nine positions further down, by Automatic’s Ramin Abdolvahabi.

Pole was grabbed by a Porsche driven by Andrew Davis for McCann Racing.

Fortunes flipped wildly during the race.

Brynjolfsson and partner Trent Hindman worked their way up due to the usual attrition (the IMPC races are notoriously crowded) and pit rotations, at one time as high as 3rd overall. They and their #7 Aston would have the best result of the bunch, finishing 7th overall and in class.

Branam was plagued with problems early in the race, at one point proceeding slowly to the pits for a stop that took his #27 car behind the wall for the better part of half an hour. He and co-driver Paul Kiebler IV finished 36th overall and 27th in class.

Abdolvahabi handed Automatic’s #09 Aston over to Rob Ecklin 25th overall, but with less than an hour left to the race the car went off course at Turn 4 and that marked the end. They finished 39th overall, 28th in class, and officially “not running.”

Franco’s co-driver Thomas Merril took the fourth Aston, NTE Sport’s #12, into the pits halfway through the race and it was not heard from again. The team finished 43rd overall, 31st in class, also “not running.”

The pole-sitting Porsche finished 26th overall, 25th in class, and four laps down from the winner — another Porsche.

[1-JanFeb_22_Aston_44.jpg] January/February 2022

While this Aston will be new to the WeatherTech Championship, its team — Magnus Racing — is not. Driver Andy Lally has racked up five Rolex 24 wins, more than any other driver entered.

Photo courtesy IMSA

Three Aston Martins in this Year’s IWSC!

by Bruce Vild

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 12 — By the time you read this, the first two events on IMSA’s race schedule will have already passed — the “Roar Before the 24” and the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Though we couldn’t predict the results at press time, we can say that things look pretty exciting for British car fans.

First, the Heart of Racing team has announced it will be fielding not one, but two Aston Martins this year in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC).

The #23 Vantage GT3 that captured last year’s IWSC Sprint Cup will move up to a new class, GT Daytona Pro (GTD Pro), in the capable hands of Alex Riberas and Ross Gunn. The team’s second car, #27, will compete in the returning GT Daytona (GTD) class, and be driven by Roman De Angelis and Maxime Martin.

Martin will join Riberas and Gunn for the season’s endurance races (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans), while Tom Gamble, Darren Turner and team principal Ian James will assist De Angelis at Daytona.

Second, there is now a third Aston in the mix. The Magnus Racing team has made the switch from last year’s GTD Acura to a Vantage GT3.

It’s worth noting, as IMSA reporter Mark Robinson has, that one of Magnus’ drivers, Andy Lally, “has the most Rolex 24 wins of any driver entered (five).” He’s done so in a Porsche and an Audi, and it will be interesting to see what he can do in an Aston.

Magnus’ driver line-up has Lally teamed with John Potter, Spencer Pumpelly and Jonathan Adam.

And third, as if three Astons on the track are not enough to stir your passion, there will be two teams at the Roar and the Rolex 24 with McLaren 720S GT3s — Crucial Motorsports and Inception Racing. Both will be running in GTD with Heart of Racing’s #27 and Magnus Racing’s #44.

Crucial’s entry, #59, will be helmed by Lance Bergstein, Jon Miller, Patrick Gallagher and a fourth driver to be announced, and Inception’s, #70, by Brendan Iribe, Frederik Schandorff, Ollie Millroy and Jordan Pepper.

New teams for Mazda-AER alumni

It was announced last year that Mazda Motorsports would be leaving IMSA prototype racing, and lest you think that drivers Oliver Jarvis, Harry Tincknell and Jonathan Bomarito are in a queue at the unemployment office, here’s an update. They will be back driving prototypes in the Rolex 24, with Jarvis in the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class and Tincknell and Bomarito in Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2).

Jarvis has joined Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian and will be co-driving their #60 Acura ARX-05 with Tom Blomqvist, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.

His two former teammates will be piloting a prototype powered by a British engine, just like before, except this time it’ll be a V8 designed and manufactured by Derbyshire-based Gibson Technology (the spec engine for all LMP2 cars). They’re even on the same team — PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, which just happens to have won the past three LMP2 titles in the IWSC.

Bomarito will co-drive the #11 ORECA LMP2 07 with Steven Thomas all season, with Josh Pierson lending a hand in the endurance races. Tincknell will assist for the Rolex 24.

[2-JanFeb_22_Aston_23.jpg] Heart of Racing’s #23 Aston — back for an encore, but in a new class, GTD Pro.
Photo by Michael Levitt, LAT Images

More about the Roar

The Roar Before the Rolex 24 is scheduled one week before the “big race,” the Rolex 24, a/k/a the 24 Hours of Daytona. It is both a testing opportunity on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona Speedway and a qualifying session, with the results setting the starting grid for the Rolex 24.

IMSA President John Doonan says that this year there will be “more cars on the grid than we’ve seen at Daytona in the last eight years.” Sixty-one cars will be present across five classes — three for prototypes (DPi, LMP2 and LMP3) and two for GT cars (GTD Pro and GTD, the classes segregated according to driver rank, “bronze” to “platinum,” based on experience).

GTD Pro replaces the moribund GT Le Mans class of last year, which saw only three cars show up at some venues, two Corvettes and a Porsche. GTD Pro now boasts 13 entries and eight manufacturers — Corvette and Porsche, yes, but also BMW, Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus and (as mentioned) Aston Martin.

The Roar is a big deal, and not just for qualifying for the Rolex 24.

“The talent pool is deep within each of the five competing classes, with more than 50 past Rolex 24 winners in the field,” writes Robinson. “It means that each team must take advantage of every minute of track time during the Roar to be prepared for the marathon that is the Rolex 24.”

The year ahead

The 2022 IWSC season will include Sprint Cup (shorter duration) and Endurance Cup (longer duration) races.

The Rolex 24 kicks off the latter January 29-30, followed by the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring March 19th, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen June 26th, and the Motul Petit Le Mans October 1st. These events, plus the two-hour, 40-minute race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., August 7th, will include all five IWSC classes.

The remaining races will each be two hours and 40 minutes long, with the exception of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach and the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle, Detroit, which will run for 100 minutes.

Four-class races will happen at Laguna Seca May 1st (no LMP3), Mid-Ohio May 15th (no GTD Pro), and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park July 3rd (no LMP2).

Long Beach, April 9th, will include three classes, DPi, GTD Pro and GTD, and Belle Isle, June 4th, will host two, DPi and GTD.

Only GTD Pro and GTD cars will be coming to IMSA’s shortest course, Lime Rock Park, and to one of its longest, Virginia International Raceway. Lime Rock’s event is July 16th and VIR’s August 28th.

So — the class with the most British cars lined up for Daytona, GTD, will be present for all 12 IWSC races. GTD Pro and DPi will compete in ten, and LMP2 and LMP3 in seven.

Breaking news!

The just-released entry list for the Roar reveals that a fourth Aston Martin will be at Daytona — the Northwest AMR #98 Vantage GT3, with drivers Paul Dalla Lana, David Pittard, Charlie Eastwood and Nicki Thiim.

While it’s unlikely #98 will be around for the full season it will be great to see another AMR partner on the track, no doubt testing the car for another 24-hour race — Le Mans.

[From IMSA reports. See our March issue for full coverage of the Rolex 24.]

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