DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (29 January, 2024) – The Heart of Racing (HOR) scored a fourth place finish in the GTD PRO category of the Rolex 24 At Daytona this weekend. The No. 27 Heart of Racing GTD entry had a promising start to the race as the team looked to defend its 2023 win at Daytona International Speedway, but was forced to retire early after encountering a technical issue before the halfway point.
Leading up to the famed 24 hour race, the team worked on different setups and pit stop practices through three practice sessions on Thursday. After opting out of the fourth practice session on Friday to have more fresh tires ready for the race, the team was set for Saturday’s 1:40pm Rolex 24 At Daytona start.
Alex Riberas, Ross Gunn, and Mario Farnbacher piloted the No. 23 Heart of Racing GTD PRO entry, finishing fourth after starting 11th in class. The race ran at a near-record pace, with the team losing some ground when it was forced to replace the nose during a pitstop after the No. 23 Heart of Racing entry suffered damage while avoiding contact with a crashed prototype.
But with good pit stops, efficient strategy, and consistent race pace, the No. 23 Heart of Racing team was able to fight its way back to cross the finish line in fourth position.
The No. 27 Heart of Racing GTD team started from the 18th row on the grid with Team Principal Ian James behind the wheel. James passed the wheel to Roman De Angelis on lap 95 in eighth. The young Canadian drove the Aston Martin Vantage to lead the race for 30 laps before Zach Robichon took over the wheel.
On lap 329, Marco Sorensen had control of the Aston Martin Vantage when an electrical issue came about, forcing the No. 27 Heart of Racing entry to the pits. After troubleshooting for a few different items, the team pulled the Aston Martin back to the garage where they continued to try to diagnose the problem for an hour and a half before concluding that the car needed to be retired.
The Heart of Racing IMSA program will be back in action at the 12 Hours of Sebring March 13-16th. Before its next IMSA round, the team will be competing in both the Bathurst 12 Hours (February 16-18) and the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Qatar (February 23 – March 2).
Alex Riberas: “Wow. Definitely a tough race for the No. 23 crew. But overall, an extraordinary effort by everyone. I mean, we didn’t have the pace to be top 10 today, and we somehow managed to finish fourth, which is a phenomenal result. It shows the fighting spirit of this team and of this entire organization, shows that we can definitely look at bigger things in the future. Hopefully we make a step forward in Sebring with a more competitive race”
Ross Gunn: “It’s been a tough few years. It’s amazing to get through a really tough race. The team never gave up and really kept pushing even with a few setbacks. We didn’t have the pace to really compete any higher. Fourth is probably the best that we could have hoped for. Mega job by Alex and Mario, and Joe as well. And then the rest of the crew did amazing. It was really important for us to get some solid points on the board because the past few years have been tricky. We now head to Sebring and look to build on it.”
Mario Farnbacher: “The Rolex 24 At Daytona was definitely a difficult race. We didn’t have the pace that some of our competition did, so we had to just keep our heads down, and keep pushing, which we did. I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve finished P4 where others were troubled. It was a good points race for the championship and we’ll keep on working.”
Ian James: “I really enjoyed my driving stints. The Aston Martin Vantage was decent in all of my stints. I was fortunate enough to be able to get my four and a half hours out of the way quite early before the problem snuck in. Fourth place in the GTD PRO car is a solid start to the season, and I’m super proud of both cars and both teams.”
Roman De Angelis: “The time I was in the car was fun, it was my first race stint of the year. I had a bit of a break since the last time I was in a race so I really enjoyed that. I had a really fun stint battling with people and we were in a pretty good place at that time but had some misfortune with the issues with the car and had to retire. It is kind of a shame but we learned a lot about the car. It’s unfortunate to miss out on some points that hopefully, we won’t be missing later on in the year but just keep working from here at Sebring.”
Zach Robichon: “Ironically, my first two stints were just about learning. I had never driven the Aston Martin in a race situation or on new tires. So it was a great time to learn and a good time to understand where the car is. We did a great job putting ourselves in a competitive situation given what was going on. Unfortunately, during my second stint, that’s when we started having an issue. The team did a fantastic job preparing us and the strategy was great during the race. We had put ourselves in a situation where we could fight and ultimately it was out of our control. Nothing to hang our heads about, there’s nothing the team did wrong and we’ll be back at Sebring.”
Marco Sorensen: “The Heart of Racing Team did a great job giving us a car this weekend. We felt we were pretty strong going into the race. Unfortunately the race did not go our way, but that happens sometimes. It was great to be back with the Heart of Racing Team for the Rolex 24, especially after our season last year.”