June 12, 2021
By Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service
DETROIT, Mich. – The first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win for any driver is memorable. It will be more so for Ross Gunn and Roman De Angelis.
The drivers of the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 crossed the finish line second in GT Daytona (GTD) at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic. But the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 that had finished first was moved to the rear of the field when a post-race audit showed that the team’s refueling time was faster than the minimum time listed on IMSA’s Balance of Performance (BoP) table for the GTD class.
The change elevated Gunn, De Angelis and the No. 23 to the top step of the podium and gave Aston Martin its first win in WeatherTech Championship competition. It also moved the No. 19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 up to second place and the No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 to third.
“A win’s a win,” said De Angelis, the 20-year-old who grew up just across the Canadian border from Detroit in Belle River, Ontario and was racing on his home track for the first time. “Whether you take it after the race or during the race, it’s always going to say that we won the Detroit Grand Prix in 2021. I’ve always dreamt about winning an IMSA race, let alone competing in one.
“To say that we won the Detroit Grand Prix and that the Heart of Racing finally won their first race with the Aston Martin is just unbelievable,” added De Angelis, competing in his 13th series race. “I can’t be more proud and happy of the whole team. It’s so amazing to do it in front of pretty much my home crowd.”
De Angelis started second in class and held strong until pitting and turning the car over to Gunn with just over an hour remaining in the 100-minute event. A third-place finish appeared in the cards for the No. 23 Aston Martin until Bill Auberlen, running second in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, stopped on track with 10 minutes left. Gunn wasn’t able to close on Jeff Westphal in the No. 39 Audi on the restart but was rewarded with the victory after the race.
“We’ve had a really strong weekend,” Gunn said after getting his first WeatherTech Championship win in just his fifth race. “We didn’t expect it to be our best circuit but we hit the ground running and the team did an awesome job setting up the car.
“Of course, it’s not the circumstances that you want to get your first IMSA win, but a win is a win. We’re very happy and we want to take this momentum forward to Watkins Glen.”
Saturday’s race counts toward the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup and not the season-long championship. Gunn and De Angelis head the Sprint Cup standings after two races, holding a 45-point advantage on Frankie Montecalvo in the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.
“The Sprint Cup championship holds just as much importance as all the championships,” Gunn said. “Every points-gaining position we can get, the better. So far, we’ve executed a good season, we haven’t made many mistakes. Very, very proud of this team. I came here with really high expectations from what I saw last year, and they’ve exceeded it in many ways.”
Corvettes Reward Teammates, Fans with Home Performance
It didn’t pay WeatherTech Championship points, but the two Corvettes racing in the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic earned their due in goodwill and some friendly competition.
The Nos. 3 and 4 Corvette Racing C8.Rs made a special appearance in the race at Belle Isle Park, competing as the lone GT Le Mans (GTLM) entries when the opportunity came available with the date of the 24 Hours of Le Mans shifted to August.
Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner took the No. 4 Corvette across the finish line 0.226 seconds ahead of Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 after a spirited intra-team competition. More than the win, Milner said, was the chance for the team to thank the Detroit fans and everyone involved with the program by racing on Belle Isle for the first time in 13 years.
“The whole point of coming here was to showcase these Corvettes,” Milner said. “This team hasn’t been here since 2008, so it was a great opportunity to showcase Corvette Racing to all the engineers and to a lot of the people who work for Corvette Racing. Their families were able to be here to see these cars, so it wasn’t just about us driving on the racetrack. It was also about giving back to the people who make this program what it is and what they’re working toward.”
Best of all, Milner added, was the valuable information the team gathered running the mid-engine C8.R that debuted last year on a street circuit for the first time.
“For us, it was learning about the car and the tires in those situations and getting us back in the groove because we’ve been off so many months and we have a long run ahead with many races,” he said. “It was good for us to get the rust kind of shaken off and our minds back in the racing mode again.”
All five WeatherTech Championship classes – GTLM, GTD, Daytona Prototype international, Le Mans Prototype 2 and Le Mans Prototype 3 – will be in action June 24-27 at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at historic Watkins Glen International. It is the third of four races counting toward the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup as well as the season-long titles. Tickets for the Watkins Glen weekend are available at TheGlen.com.