With Heart of Racing
IMSA champion and Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona winning team Heart of Racing records first win with Vantage at Road America
Vantage and Heart of Racing take 11th IMSA class win for Aston Martin
Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas take pole, fastest lap and GTD Pro victory for the second race in succession
Aston Martin’s Vantage recorded back-to-back clean sweeps in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD Pro class for the first time on Sunday, as the Heart of Racing (HoR) and drivers Ross Gunn (GBR) and Alex Riberas (ESP), won at Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin) from pole position, setting fastest lap along the way. The duo, driving the #23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, achieved the same feat a fortnight earlier when HoR clinched its famous double-class victory in IMSA’s all-GT race at Lime Rock Park.
The win – Aston Martin’s first IMSA GTD level victory at the famous Road America track – was also the first for the North America-based squad at the venue and marked the 11th class win in total for the reigning IMSA GTD class champion and the Rolex 24 Hours class winner. For Gunn and Riberas it represented the fourth occasion they have won in IMSA’s top GT class since it replaced the GTLM category at the beginning of 2022.
With Riberas having set pole position by 0.057s with a lap of 2m02.918s, the Spaniard and his works Aston Martin team-mate Ross Gunn were always in the hunt during the 80-lap event, and engaged in a fierce race-long battle with the factory Corvette that only concluded when the #3 was forced to pit to serve a penalty.
This latest victory allows Gunn and Riberas to close in on a close fight for second in the GTD Pro standings. Currently lying fifth with 2468 points, the duo are 173 points away from the runner-up spot with just three rounds at Virginia International Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta still to run.
“This was a very special win for us today,” said Riberas. “Back-to-back wins are not something you experience often so I’m very privileged to be part of it. Everyone at the Heart of Racing and Aston Martin Racing has been working so hard after a tough start to the year to turn things around and get the momentum behind our backs. This win is a clear indication that we are going in the right direction. Now we need to keep on pushing, keep on improving and we can look to the future with plenty of optimism.”
Gunn added: “We’ve had a fast car all year, but we’ve not always had the best of luck. Now things are clicking together for us nicely and we’ve been able to deliver on all the promise of the Vantage. Today’s battle for the lead was great fun and it’s days like these that you wish for as a driver. To win back-to-back races is an incredible feeling, but I’m hoping we can go on to achieve more before the season is over.”
The Rolex 24 at Daytona GTD class winners – reigning champion Roman De Angelis (CAN) and co-driver LMGTE Am world champion Marco Sørensen (DEN) – driving the #27 Vantage GT3, finished seventh in the GTD class. The result keeps them second in the championship (which the team is defending), 205 off the class lead.
Heart of Racing team principal Ian James, said: “Another amazing race for us. To win here at Road America and record back-to-back wins in this extremely tough GTD Pro class is a real honour and a true testament to the hard work of the team, and Aston Martin Racing. The victory speak volumes for the extraordinary qualities of the Vantage we get to race. The drivers were faultless today, the pitstops were amazing, and that’s what it takes to win at this level.”
Huw Tasker, AMR Head of Partner Racing, said: “Wherever they go in the world, and particularly in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, The Heart of Racing is a force to be reckoned with. But even saying that, to record back-to-back victories from pole position and set fastest lap both times proves they are capable of extracting the maximum potential from the Aston Martin Vantage on any given weekend. With the momentum behind them, it’s exciting to think about what they may achieve as the season draws to a climax.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now moves on to Virginia International Raceway, for the Michelin GT Challenge, 25-27 August.