Vantage GT3 takes first win in new top US endurance racing GT class
Partner team The Heart of Racing bounces back from tough start to season with fantastic victory on famous street circuit
Vantage continues strong start to 2022 international endurance campaign
Works driver Ross Gunn takes fourth career win in premier US category
The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 recorded its first victory in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s new top GT class following a flawless performance from Partner team The Heart of Racing and its drivers Alex Riberas (ESP) and Ross Gunn (GBR) at Long Beach on Saturday.
The win continues the ultra-luxury British sportscar car brand’s excellent start to the international endurance racing season. NorthWest AMR led home a Vantage one-two GTE Am class finish in the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Sebring, while Magnus Racing recorded a GTD podium in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in February and Beechdean AMR set the pace in the GT World Challenge Endurance Cup opener at Imola at the start of April.
IMSA Sprint Cup champion The Heart of Racing has expanded its entry to two Vantages for 2022, with works driver Gunn and Riberas sharing the #23 car in the new GTD PRO category which replaces the top-tier GTLM division for pro drivers and works teams, while the team has retained the #27 entry in the GTD class for Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy winner Roman De Angelis (CDN) and works driver Maxime Martin (BEL).
Starting from fourth in class, Gunn drove an inch-perfect stint as he focussed on racing his Vantage into contention, thus ensuring the car was in prime position to take advantage as rivals fell by the wayside. After the leading Corvette and BMW ran into trouble during pitstops, Riberas was able to take command of the second half of the race. No easy task given a proliferation of Full Course Yellows making it difficult to find a rhythm on the challenging world famous street course, yet still he managed to record the fastest GT lap of the race.
One of those yellows, unfortunately, was to recover the #27 Vantage, which had looked on course to give Aston Martin a famous double class victory before being eliminated from the race on lap 49. De Angelis put in an outstanding opening stint to forge through from seventh on the grid, and was leading when he handed the car to Martin. The Belgian resumed in third and raced back on to the tail of the leader, whom he was challenging when he was squeezed against the wall and out of the race.
This was the fourth win for The Heart of Racing with the Vantage GT3, and its first in the GTD PRO class. The result means that the team, Gunn and Riberas are fifth in their respective standings overall and in touch with the leaders on points, in spite of a tricky start to the season.
“I’m super happy to get the first win of the season for The Heart of Racing,” said Gunn. “It’s been a tough start to the year, with a lot of setbacks and a lot of bad luck. But we were there to capitalise on some good fortune for a change. We were able to do that thanks to a great strategy, an awesome car and great teamwork. Alex drove an awesome stint and I was happy with my stint, but as ever there are always things that we can improve, so I’m looking forward to doing that in Laguna Seca and carrying on this positive momentum that we now have.”
Head of AMR Partner Racing, Huw Tasker said: “Vantage’s potential continues to shine across all levels of world level GT competition and this latest win by The Heart of Racing is testament to the excellent performance, resilience and hard work of the team and drivers. It’s incredibly unfortunate for the sister car, but once again both Vantages were in podium contention and that is all you can ask for in such a competitive series as IMSA.”
Round 4 of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes place at Laguna Seca, on Sunday, 1 May.