Aston Martin Vantage claims maiden win in North America as The Heart of Racing records famous Watkins Glen victory

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Aston Martin’s new Vantage GT3 recorded its first win in the United States of America thanks to a brilliant IMSA WeaterTech SportCar Championship GTD Pro class victory at Watkins Glen, with partner team the Heart of Racing [THoR].

Works driver Ross Gunn (GBR) and FIA World Endurance Championship regular Alex Riberas (ESP) staged an enthralling fightback in the Six Hours of the Glen endurance classic, which was affected by rainstorms and subject to a red flag period mid-race because of standing water on the track.

Having lost a lap earlier in the race, when the team found itself on the wrong tyres for the conditions when the weather changed rapidly, THoR kept its resolve and fell back on its renowned strategic nous, as well as benefitting from a perfectly-judged and courageous drive by Riberas, to bring the Aston Martin back into contention.

When the red flag period was lifted and the field was brought back to green flag conditions in the final stages, Gunn found himself in second place in the GTD Pro class, behind the leading Corvette, with 16 minutes to go. Aware that the leader was low on fuel, the Briton applied as much pressure as he dared in greasy conditions and forced his rival to pit for fuel on the last lap, which gave THoR the class lead and ultimately, the win.

“This was a fantastic day for The Heart of Racing team and a great day for Vantage,” said team principal Ian James. “We’ve been working hard to bring this kind of result to the table all season and coming off the back of the podium Ross and Alex recorded at the previous race in Detroit, we’re beginning to build some momentum into the season. We were in contention in the 24 Hours of Le Mans until misfortune struck and so it’s great to be able to bounce back with a victory, our first of the season, at the very next race. I want to thank all the team for the fantastic job, we executed well and held steady in tough conditions.”

Gunn, who celebrated his eighth class victory in America’s most prestigious endurance championship, added: “This new Vantage GT3 is good in all conditions and it felt particularly strong here at Watkins Glen. To be honest, with this car, it feels like this result has been coming for a little while, and I believe we are really only beginning to tap into its full potential. Alex also had a lot thrown at him today and he deserves this win as much as anyone.”

This was the duo’s second victory at Watkins Glen, having also won the race with HoR’s previous generation of Vantage in 2022. Gunn now lies third in the standings 60 points behind the GTD Pro class leaders, with Riberas eighth having missed the Laguna Seca round when he competed in the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa, in May.

Underlining the performance of the new Vantage GT3, partner team Magnus Racing also clinched a podium finish with drivers John Potter (USA), Andy Lally (USA) and Spencer Pumpelly (USA), taking third place in the GTD class in only their third race with the car.

The new Aston Martin Vantage GT3, which shares the mechanical architecture of the new Vantage road car unveiled earlier this year at Silverstone, and which is built around Aston Martin’s proven bonded aluminium chassis and powered by its fearsome twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine, has now claimed victories in three key continents in which it competes, through the month of June.

D’station Racing recorded the car’s first class victory with a win in the SUPER GT GT300 category in Suzuka, while Blackthorn Racing clinched a maiden European win for it in the second Road to Le Mans race on the famous circuit at La Sarthe, immediately prior to the start of the famous 24 Hour race last weekend. The team followed that win up with a strong British GT Championship Silver Am class second position, from pole, at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, perfectly complimenting a GT4 Silver class victory for Forsetti Motorsport with the new Vantage GT4. It was the team’s fourth class win with Vantage and means it leads both the GT4 Silver and Pro-Am classes with four rounds left to contest.

Meanwhile in the ADAC Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie, a championship run exclusively on the fearsome Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, Aston Martin partner team Walkenhorst Motorsport claimed its first class victory with the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3, taking the tally to four wins for the car around the world so far, as the squad swept to an unchallenged win in the SP9 Pro-Am class. The perfect preparation ahead of this weekend’s Spa 24 Hours, in Belgium. To round up a strong weekend for the British ultra luxury sports car brand, Team TGM also won the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race running a previous generation Vantage GT4.

Adam Carter, Head of Endurance Motorsport, said: “June has proved to be a red-letter month for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with wins in Japan, Europe and now the USA. It’s fitting that our partner The Heart of Racing, which took Aston Martin to its first IMSA championship title and Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona win, should be the team to claim the first victory for the car in America. It’s a great motivation for everyone at Aston Martin as we look to convert the potential we showed in the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the 24 Hours of Le Mans into a strong result in this weekend’s Spa 24 Hours.”

The next round of the 2024 IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship takes place at the Canadian Tyre Motorsport Park (Mosport), in Canada, on 14 July.

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