Story By: HALEIGH JORDAN / THE HEART OF RACING – DANVILLE, VA – After sweeping the previous IMSA GT weekend at Lime Rock Park, the Heart of Racing (HOR) team looks to do the same at VIRginia International Raceway for the second GT-only weekend of the IMSA season. The HOR team heads to VIR August 25-27 for the Michelin GT Challenge (USA Network 2:00pm ET).
The No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage co-driven by Alex Riberas and Ross Gunn enter the VIR weekend on a streak of success after turning the corner from a tough-luck start to the season. With wins at both Lime Rock Park and Road America in the rear view mirror, the duo will look to continue the momentum through the final three outings of the 2023 IMSA season.
The 2023 start of the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR will mark Riberas’ third start with the team at the quick Virginia track. In 2021, Riberas co-drove with Team Principal Ian James to qualify second in the GTD field. Last year, Riberas and Gunn combined for a run to a season-best fourth after starting the race from Pole.
“Definitely another weekend that I am very much looking forward to,” said Riberas. “VIR is one of the most fun tracks on the calendar. It’s super enjoyable and I think the Aston Martin fits that layout very well. The team is in a very sweet spot right now after two wins in a row. We feel very excited to work together and continue to grow. VIR will be another opportunity to perform and to execute. In the past we have been fast there, but we were never able to capitalize. I’m definitely looking forward to changing that and hopefully bring back a good result on Sunday.”
Gunn is no stranger to VIR either, this will mark his third start at the track with HOR, having first raced at the track in Michelin Pilot Challenge competition in 2019 on board an Aston Martin GT4 entry. Gunn has two pole awards at the 3.27-mile track, having scored the first one in 2021 while co-driving with Roman De Angelis and the other with Riberas in 2022. Gunn looks to be landing on the podium after being just shy of the third step last season.
“VIR is a circuit I enjoy going back to every year,” said Gunn. “It’s definitely a drivers favorite with the angulating nature of the circuit, but also the uphill esses which is a really fun part of the lap. We’ve had pretty strong performances there in the past, we just never really felt like we have gotten the result we were after. We are looking to make that work in 2023, especially coming off of some strong results. Keeping that momentum going will be the key target. I’m looking forward to getting back to one of the best circuits in the world.”
The No. 27 Aston Martin sister car piloted by Roman De Angelis and Marco Sorensen currently sits second in the IMSA WeatherTech points championship standings with just three races remaining in the season.
De Angelis goes into the weekend looking for a repeat podium, as he and co-driver from last season Max Martin scored a second place finish at VIR, scoring De Angelis’ best finish at the track. De Angelis was teamed up with Gunn for the 2021 season where the duo scored a Motul Pole Award.
“I’m excited to get back to VIR, we had a good test there last week,” said De Angelis. “Historically, VIR has been a good track for us, the Aston seems to suit it quite well. We had a tough weekend at Road America so hopefully we can gain back some points on the No. 1 car. There are not many rounds left so we are looking to make some gains in the championship to put ourselves in a good position for Road Atlanta at the end of the year.”
Sorensen will be making his debut at VIR, making his seventh start of the IMSA season at a new-to-him track. The De Angelis / Sorensen duo has scored two wins this season at Daytona International Speedway and Lime Rock Park. The pair also have a second place finish under their belt at the Long Beach Grand Prix.
“We had a rough go of it at Road America,” said Sorensen. “We just haven’t had the pace that we know is there. I’m ready to get to VIR, I think we will be able to try out some different ideas to hopefully get us up to speed and try to close that gap to the championship.”
The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR will take place on Sunday August 27th at 2:10pm ET