Tough Luck at Sebring for Heart of Racing
Sebring, Fla. (18 Mar 2023) – The Heart of Racing (HOR) was back in IMSA WeatherTech action this weekend, returning to another legendary circuit to take on the Sebring 12 Hour with the two-car squad looking to build on its strong start to the 2023 season.
HOR drivers Roman De Angelis, Marco Sorensen, and Ian James teamed in the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTD, while the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin GTD PRO machine once again had Alex Riberas, Ross Gunn, and David Pittard sharing the driving duties.
Starting from the seventh row, James powered through the opening three hours of the race and moved forward as the track temperatures rose in the warm Florida conditions. Racing forward and into podium contention within the first hour, James then turned the car over to Sorensen. De Angelis was next up in the car, driving it up to third before turning the Aston Martin back to Sorensen, who drove the car into the lead on lap 185.
After a driver change under a caution, De Angelis was hit from behind on the restart, forcing him back to thirteenth. Over the course of 24 laps and two caution periods, De Angelis made his way back to sit second in GTD competition with three and half hours remaining. Sorensen took the Aston Martin to the lead on lap 284 before a caution returned just three laps later.
Unfortunately, the promising run to a Sebring podium ended when Sorenson was forced off track as he raced through traffic late in the race. The World Champion was able to get the car off to a safe location, but the race was run for the team.
The GTD Pro effort saw Riberas place the Aston Martin Vantage third on the starting grid. A pair of procedural penalties slowed the effort briefly before Gunn took over the controls in seventh. But the bad luck didn’t stop there, as three and half hours into the race Gunn encountered an electrical issue exiting turn seven forcing the car to the paddock. The HOR team was able to diagnose and fix this issue in just 18 minutes and get the Aston Martin back on track. Restarting 10 laps down, the No. 23 team continued to push forward as the team continued to deliver quick pit stops and well-executed strategy to take an eighth place finish.
The Heart of Racing’s next IMSA WeatherTech event will be the Grand Prix of Long Beach April 14th and 15th. The WeatherTech teams will be joined by HOR’s Formula Drift squad at the California event.
Heart of Racing Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Quoteboard
Roman De Angelis: “The race was pretty chaotic, we went from the front to the back a couple of times. I thought we had a really good change at the end leading the last few hours, but some pretty stupid driving from somebody else put us in a bad position and the car couldn’t finish due to a broken suspension. That was not the way we wanted to end, at least we could have grabbed some good points at the end with the way our strategy turned out, but that’s racing. Hopefully we can come back and get some points in Long Beach.”
Marco Sorensen: “To end the weekend like we did just now was definitely not the plan. There isn’t a whole lot that I could have done differently when a car just cuts across the track. It shows a little bit of lack of perspective in general in the paddock, but it is what it is now. We can’t change it. We just have to come back at Long Beach. The team did a really really good job and the car was actually better than what we expected to have here at Sebring. It’s been a pleasure all weekend and we have a good car, it was just unfortunate.”
Ian James: “I think the team performed really well, it was a pleasure to drive with Roman and Marco here at Sebring. I had three pretty good stints to start there and I really thought we were on for a good result, but unfortunately somebody else’s stupidity took us out. That is all part of racing, you have the highs and the lows. Our high was Daytona and now we are seeing a low. The most frustrating part is we had a car that could have won, but that’s okay because we will bounce back.
Alex Riberas: “In the beginning of the race everything was going very well and according to plan. It is tough to process the fact that we had a car to fight to the victory today, but due to mechanical failure we were unable to stay on the lead lap. On the other side the team stayed positive and we know we are executing well, everything that is in our control is really well. I remain positive for the future and I can not wait for Long Beach.”
Ross Gunn: “Super disappointing to have an issue early on when we had a very strong base. It’s a very similar story to Daytona, very unfortunate because all the guys worked super hard for this weekend to give us a great car. Really, really disappointing, but we will fight back in Long Beach.”
David Pittard: “This was the first Sebring Twelve Hours for me, it was actually good to finish because that was an experience on its own for me. I have always loved watching IMSA racing because the races are always so close in the final minutes. It was awesome racing, I am ashamed we were a few laps down, but it happens. Big huge thank you to the Heart of Racing guys for their hard efforts.”
About The Heart of Racing
The Heart of Racing races to raise funds and awareness for Seattle Children’s Cardiology Research. The team competes internationally with concurrent campaigns in IMSA, SRO, Formula Drift and the 24H SERIES. Last season The Heart of Racing won the IMSA GTD Championship title in the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3. The Heart of Racing team hosted their first all-female driver shootout in November of 2022, bringing to the team Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt for the 2023 SRO GT4 America season. To contribute to The Heart of Racing’s fundraising efforts please visit: https://give.seattlechildrens.org/fundraiser/3642390