IMSA WeatherTech Championship

Crazy Day Ends in Double Win for the Heart of Racing Team

June 26, 2022
By John Oreovicz & Holly Cain
IMSA Wire Service

Note: Provisional race results reflecting multiple drive-time infractions will be distributed as soon as they are available.

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – A 60-minute stoppage for lightning three-quarters of the way through the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen threw calculations for minimum drive time and fuel strategy into disarray in Round 7 of the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

That resulted in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driven by Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas being awarded the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class victory after the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL (drivers: Connor De Phillippi, Augusto Farfus, and John Edwards) that crossed the line first was put to the back of the field because one of the drivers failed to meet the adjusted minimum drive time for each driver of 1-hour, 17-minutes during the six-hour endurance race.

A brief storm rolled through the Finger Lakes region of New York with around 90 minutes remaining, causing track and IMSA officials to red flag the race. At the time, Davide Rigon and Daniel Serra (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3) held a slim lead over Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3). The No. 25 BMW lay fifth, but carried seven more laps of fuel than the Porsche and nine more than the Ferrari when the race was restarted with 35 minutes remaining on the clock.

Sure enough, Serra and Jaminet pulled into the pits for a brief splash-and-go stop with five minutes remaining, leaving Edwards to cruise to what he thought was a one-lap margin of victory over Gunn in the No. 23 Aston Martin. But not long after the checkered flag, IMSA officials announced that a timing audit revealed the No. 25 team’s infraction.

Thoroughly surprised, Gunn and Riberas found themselves spraying the champagne in Victory Lane after their second GTD PRO triumph of the season. They also won the sprint race on the Long Beach street course.

They completed 147 laps of the 11-corner, 3.4-mile Watkins Glen International road course, and were credited with the win over Serra and Rigon, with Campbell and Jaminet completing the revised podium.

It was the second time in the last 13 months that the Heart of Racing Team was awarded a WeatherTech Championship race win, post race. The team’s first win in IMSA competition came at Detroit in June 2021 in the GTD class when the winning Audi was put to the back of the field due to a refueling infraction.

Ironically, the Heart of Racing’s No. 27 entry was awarded the GTD class win Sunday at Watkins Glen, also due to a drive time infraction violation involving the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT3.

“It’s still a little bit of a shock,” said Riberas. “I’m speechless, not only for what it means for the 23 car, but especially for the history of the Heart of Racing Team. Today we had very unusual circumstances, and that is in my opinion what makes IMSA racing so special and entertaining and unique. You just never know, and that fits the Heart of Racing really well, because they never give up as a team or as a family.”

Added Gunn: “We were out of sequence due to issues earlier in the race, and that was in a way lucky for us because when we restarted with 35 minutes remaining, we knew we didn’t have to worry about fuel. To be honest, when I crossed the line, I thought I was P5 (fifth place), then I was told I was P2, and about 10 minutes after the race I was told I was P1. I’ll never forget that, for sure.”

The second-place finish allowed Jaminet and Campbell to extend their lead in the GTD PRO point standings.

Heart of Racing Team Wins GTD After Finishing Second

There was no shortage of irony for the GTD class winners Sunday. After a season of frustration and near-misses, the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team hoisted its first trophy of 2022 on Sunday – declared the class victor about 20 minutes after taking the checkered flag in second place.

The Winward Racing Mercedes team – first across the finish line and also looking to take its first win of the season – was penalized for not meeting drive-time requirements with its drivers.

“We always know our car is strong here, this is a really good track for us,’’ said Heart of Racing driver Roman De Angelis who drove the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in the final stint. “We had really good results last year here so we came in here with a lot of confidence.

“I thought second would have been a good result for us and it was very close. As I came to the last corner and got out of the throttle, we ran out of gas, so we coasted across [the finish line].

“We got really lucky and so obviously, with the drive-time [penalty] everything worked out for us,’’ added a smiling De Angelis, who co-drove with Maxime Martin and Ian James.

“We haven’t had a win in a while. We’ve had a pretty rough start to the year, so obviously, super happy to get that result.’’

It was only the second top five of the year for the Heart of Racing GTD team – improving on a runner-up showing in the previous race at Detroit. The team’s second car also won in the GTD PRO class giving the Heart of Racing organization its first double class victory.

It marked the 10th career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win for James, second for Martin and fourth for De Angelis.

“For sure we had some luck but at the end of the day, it was good racing,’’ James said.

With the drive-time infraction by the Winward team, the No. 70 inception racing McLaren 720S GT3 team of Brendan Iribe, Ollie Millroy and Jordan Pepper were officially scored in second place. And the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 team moved onto the podium. For Turner drivers Robby Foley, Bill Auberlen and Michael Dinan, it marked their third podium finish this year and was best among the championship leaders heading into Watkins Glen.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors have little time to rest, because they will be back in action next weekend for the Chevrolet Grand Prix, July 1-3 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

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