Splitting the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 entries between GTD Pro and GTD “will not change anything”, said Ian James, team principal of The Heart of Racing, who is optimistic about their chances in both categories.
The Aston team, which grew into a midseason two-car effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship last year, will operate in two classes this year, with an all-pro lineup in the league for the first time. new-for-category 2022.
The GTD Pro entry will feature longtime HoR driver Alex Riberas and Aston Martin Racing factory driver Ross Gunn, who along with Roman De Angelis claimed the WeatherTech Sprint Cup title, while the Canadian rising star remains and will be in GTD joined by AMR factory ace Maxime Martin for most of the season.
Martin, meanwhile, joins the GTD Pro crew for the three endurance races that begin with next weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“With Ross, Alex and Max, I think we have as strong a driver lineup as anyone else,” James told Sportscar365.
“The car had a good pace at the end of last year, it just comes down to what the Balance of Performance is and some of these new cars come in and see where they score.
“That is a strong field and the GTD field is also mega.
“Having over 30 GT3 cars in IMSA is really what they dreamed of. Hopefully that gets more attention, in the broadcasts and stuff, which it really deserves.”
When asked about the split approach, as one of two teams to compete in both GT3 classes this year, James indicated that the move towards a two-car operation mid-season last year served as a stepping stone.
“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “When we drove the two cars” [from mid last year] that was a stepping stone for this year.
“We’re not going to neglect either car. With both we put our best foot forward.
“We need to back up” [our championship-winning season] now this year. I think we have everything in place. Where the car fits in pace is up to the organizers.
“We’re really happy with how it’s done and we’re excited to start racing.”
Second driver in GTD entry for enduros to be determined
The second driver in the GTD class No. 27 Aston alongside De Angelis and James, the team’s nominated Michelin Endurance Cup driver, has yet to be determined according to the team principal/driver.
While Martin has been confirmed as De Angelis’ co-driver for the WeatherTech Sprint Cup races, the Belgian will take on the 23rd Aston alongside Riberas and Gunn for the enduros.
Meanwhile, Tom Gamble and Darren Turner will complete the No. 27 lineup for the Rolex 24 in Daytona.
“We have a younger lineup in the GTD car,” James explained.
“I wanted to give another youngster a shot in Tom Gamble, who was quite impressive in the WEC last year. Him and Roman and me and Darren to support those guys and see where we end up.”
When asked who could fill the seat in car No. 27 for Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans, James said they had a number of options on the table.
“Maybe Darren, maybe Tom,” he said. “There are a few other factory drivers that will be available. We’ll see how Daytona plays out and move on from there.
“I’m not too concerned. There are plenty of good options.
“The good thing about having two cars is that I have the [GTD] car as a little more adventurous in terms of a little braver in our decisions to give people opportunities and maybe we can find our next Ross and Roman and Alex.”