24 H. Daytona - Historic win for Aston Martin in GTD

29 Jan. 2023 • 13:43
Photo : LAT

Aston Martin has competed in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Today, Marco Sorensen and Heart of Racing teammates Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and co-driver/team manager Ian James earned the legendary English marque’s first Rolex 24 victory in 13 attempts by claiming the GT Daytona (GTD) class trophy.


The Heart of Racing pit crew lifted De Angelis and the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 into the class lead with a superior pit stop with a little more than 2 1/2 hours remaining in the 24-hour endurance chase.


After taking over the wheel, Sorensen briefly lost the top overall GT spot to Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 from the GTD PRO class on a restart 40 minutes later. Hawksworth surrendered the point back to Sorensen five laps later and the No. 27 Aston held off the GTD PRO class-winning No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 over the final 80 minutes to claim overall GT and GTD class honors.


Making Aston Martin’s day even sweeter, the No. 44 Magnus Racing Vantage GT3 with drivers John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and Nicki Thiim finished second in GTD, crossing the line 5.363 seconds behind the No. 27. The win follows up Aston’s first Daytona podium, a second-place finish achieved last year by the Magnus car.


“First win for Aston in nearly 60 years? I don’t know what to say,” Sorensen said. “We won the Daytona 24 outright, ahead of everyone (in GT). Every time I saw yellow flags toward the end, I was so upset. It was one big fight, and I’m just so happy we could bring it home.


“Amazing job by The Heart of Racing – I couldn’t have done it without them,” he added. “For the last four hours, Roman and I were flat out. We couldn’t have done any more. It’s very emotional – really, really special.”


The victory was the first in WeatherTech Championship competition for Sorensen; Turner and De Angelis own six career wins each, with James raising his total to 11. James’ triumph came in his 21st Rolex 24 start.


Defending IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup GTD champion Inception Racing took third place with a McLaren 720S GT3 shared by Brendan Iribe, Frederik Schandorff, Ollie Millroy and Marvin Kirchhofer, followed by Sheena Monk, Katherine Legge, Mario Farnbacher and Marc Miller in the No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3.


The top four cars in GTD all completed 729 laps of the 3.56-mile, 12-turn Daytona road course.


In one of the most emotional storylines of this year’s Rolex 24, Winward Racing’s amazing quest for victory fell just short. After driver Lucas Auer was hospitalized Thursday when he crashed the GTD pole-winning No. 57 Mercedes, a new chassis was trucked from Texas to Daytona and completed at 4 a.m. race morning.


Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Indy Dontje and last-minute substitute Daniel Morad quickly moved into the top five and held second place when the car suffered a mechanical issue in the last half hour, dropping to 13th place in class.


“Gotta say hats off to the entire crew,” said Ward, a team co-owner. “That’s the most incredible race we’ve ever had, start to finish. We drove the wheels off it and the crew were just fantastic. A really sad way to end it, but definitely one we’ll remember.”


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