The Heart of Racing Scores a 6th Place Finish at VIR

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The Heart of Racing Scores a 6th Place Finish at VIR

Danville, Va (20 June 2023) – The Heart of Racing (HOR) team completed the next rounds of GT America powered by AWS and Pirelli GT4 America at VIRginia International Raceway over the weekend.

The event didn’t provide all the green flag running that the team had been hoping for, but still included pole-winning pace and continued progress for the full lineup of HOR drivers at the twisty rural Virginia circuit.

Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt teamed up in the No. 26 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 competing in Pirelli GT4 America. O’Meara-Hunt was first up to qualify on Saturday morning, scoring a fifth place starting position in the AM class for Saturday’s evening race. Grisham was the next to qualify, earning seventh on the grid for the Sunday morning race.

O’Meara-Hunt was first behind the wheel for Saturday’s race. Unfortunately a competitor hit her from behind, causing the differential to overheat. Grisham was next in the Aston Martin, racing through the mechanical issue to cross the finish line in seventh.

“This weekend we got a taste of what we have been looking for,” said Grisham. “Rianna and I both qualified pretty well. In Saturday’s race Rianna got hit in the back on the first lap which really sent the car downwards. We finished P7, which I’m pretty happy about considering the issues we were having with the car. We had the pace to get a podium today, but cautions prevented that from happening. I only had one green flag lap before Rianna took over, she was on the hunt for a podium when another caution came out. We finished under caution which is a bummer. We are continuing to learn and get better and I think it’s starting to show in our results as well.”

Grisham started Sunday’s race for the No. 26 team. Grisham was able to get one full green flag lap in before a safety car caution took over the remainder of her stint. Once the track went back green, O’Meara-Hunt was able to gain several spots before her stint was cut short by another full course caution. O’Meara-Hunt crossed the finish line seventh.

The run to seventh turned into a sixth place result following post-race penalties as the duo continued to make strides in their rookie season of SRO competition.

“This weekend was a good weekend overall,” said O’Meara-Hunt. “We ended up P7 in race one and P6 in race two. Unfortunately race two was under full course caution for more than half of the race, which is a bit of a shame because we had pace and I think definitely had a top four car. Overall I’m really happy with the weekend. We made really good improvements to the car and it has been the best it’s felt all season. It’s a shame we couldn’t show it here, but I think we have a good car going into Road America.”

Roman De Angelis and Gray Newell reunited once again in the No. 24 Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

De Angelis was first behind the wheel during Sunday’s race, where he too was affected by the full course caution. De Angelis’ stint consisted of two green flag laps, where he was able to get the car up to ninth before handing the car over to Newell. Newell gained three more positions, taking the checkered under yellow flag conditions in sixth.

“We had really good cars this weekend,” said De Angelis. “The Heart of Racing as always does a great job preparing the cars for the weekend. Qualifying didn’t go as well as I would have hoped, since that is an area that I am working on. We did have to start from pit lane during Sunday’s race, but we were able to get it up to sixth with the little green flag track time we had. I’m excited to get to Road America, I have not driven a GT4 car there yet so I’m ready to see what these cars can do there.”

Newell pulled double duty this weekend as he also competed in GT America powered by AWS. Newell qualified the Aston Martin in pole position for Saturday’s race, securing his best qualifying position of the season.

Newell’s forty minute GT America race was plagued with full course cautions and restarts. Still in the lead for the second restart with 19 minutes remaining in the race, Newell was spun going into turn five causing race ending damage to the Aston Martin.

The Heart of Racing team had a test driver visit during the VIR weekend. Annie Rhule took part in the HOR female driver shootout last fall with Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt. This was Rhule’s first time out at a race with the team to see the full racing experience.

“This weekend was a really good learning opportunity,” said Rhule. “I was able to learn more about the cars and see how they react during a race. I’ve only ever seen the GT4 cars on track at APEX (Motor Club) so it was neat to see them on track at a place that I’ve been before. The team was great, I had not seen some of them since November when we had the shootout and it was like I never left. I was able to listen in on the radio and it’s more intense than what I’m used to. Everyone has their game face on and are ready to race. This was a weekend unlike any other experience I’ve had.”

The Heart of Racing’s SRO program will be back in action on the streets of Nashville August 4-6 with GT America powered by AWS. Pirelli GT4 America will take a two month hiatus and will be back in action at Road America August 18-20th.