Heart of Racing Team Ready for IMSA WEC Double Weekend

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Heart of Racing Team Ready for IMSA WEC Double Weekend

2024 FIA World Endurance Championship Imola, Italy April 17th - 21st 2024 Photo: Drew Gibson

(May 8, 2024) – The Heart of Racing Team will once again pull double duty this weekend as the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) races at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, while the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Ian James, Alex Riberas, and Daniel Mancinelli head to Spa-Francorchamps for the Totalenergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, where the Heart of Racing Team made its WEC debut in the 2023 season with a seventh place finish. The trio started the season out strong with a second and fifth place result, and enter the Spa weekend currently holding third in the championship points standings.

James goes to Belgium with several starts at Spa-Francorchamps, most recently the Heart of Racing Team Principal competed in the 2023 International GT Challenge 24 hours of Spa scoring a sixth place finish as well as the 24H SERIES 12 hours of Spa were he was third overall and first in class.

Riberas is no stranger to the Spa-Francorchamps, having started his first race at the circuit in 2010 in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC earning a third place finish. The Spanish driver returned the following year in Formula Renault 2.0 EuroCup winning both races of the weekend. Riberas also drove at the Belgian circuit in 2015 in Porsche SuperCup, setting the fastest lap in one of the two races of the weekend.

“I’m very much looking forward to Spa with the Heart of Racing,” said Riberas. “We feel very strong going there because that was the first event we did together last year in WEC. Both Dani and Ian know the track really well and the layout of the track fits the Aston Martin Vantage very well. I’m fairly confident we can deliver a good performance and continue to develop, grow, and fine tune all the different protocols we have been working on. Qatar and Imola were both very strong and this will be the last opportunity to fine tune everything before the Le Mans 24 Hours. I’m extremely excited and cannot wait!”

Mancinelli made his first start at Spa-Francorchamps in 2009 in Formula Renault 2.0 EuroCup. The Italian driver went back in 2010 once again in Formula Renault where he competed against his now teammate, Riberas. During that weekend, Mancinelli scored a fourth place finish. Mancinelli has been at Spa-Francorchamps several times since competing in GT cars in events like International GT Challenge 24 Hours of Spa.

“Spa-Francorchamps will be a very special weekend for us, it will be the point where The Heart of Racing Team basically began the WEC championship journey, exactly one year ago,” said Mancinelli. “The difference this year will be we have one year of experience in the World Endurance Championship and this year we will be racing in the Aston Martin Vantage LMGT3 car instead of the GTE car version. Currently we are third in the championship, so the goal for us will be to finish the six hour race at the top. Spa-Francorchamps is one of my favorite tracks so I’m very happy to be back there with Ian and Alex.”

Nine hours to the East, the Heart of Racing Team will also be competing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in the two hour and 40 minute race, MOTUL Course de Monterey Powered By Hyundai N. Ross Gunn and Mario Farnbacher will be piloting the No. 23 Aston Martin GTD PRO entry and Roman De Angelis and Spencer Pumpelly will be behind the wheel of the No. 27 Aston Martin GTD entry.

Gunn and Farnbacher will team up for the first time as a duo after being joined with Alex Riberas for the first two races of the GTD PRO season. Gunn will make his fourth start at Laguna Seca after consecutively scoring three fifth place finishes.

“I can’t wait to get back into the No. 23 Aston Martin in Laguna Seca,” said Gunn. “It will be a different challenge at Laguna with the repave. There will be lots to learn in the practice sessions, but we have a long break under our belts and were in decent form at the start of the season. I’m confident that we will be able to get up to speed pretty quickly. It’s been two months since Sebring so I’m really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things in IMSA.”

Farnbacher has six starts at the California track with two wins, one in 2014 with Riberas and again in 2020 with Meyer Shank Racing. In 2014 and 2015 Farnbacher co-drove with Ian James at Laguna Seca scoring fifth and eighth place finishes.

“Laguna Seca is steeped in history,” said Farnbacher. “I’ve always loved racing there, it’s a great track. Now it’s going to be a little new for me because they have repaved the track. I think there will be a few things to learn, but always good memories at Laguna Seca. In 2016, I won with Alex Riberas after Alex put the car on pole. Hopefully we can recreate this kind of memory with Ross Gunn and the Heart of Racing Team in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3, that’s definitely the goal. I’m really looking forward to the track, getting back in the car, and being good teammates with Ross for his championship.”

De Angelis and Pumpelly will team up for the second time this season after a promising race at Long Beach ended early. De Angelis made his debut at Laguna Seca in 2019 in Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA where the young driver secured a first and second place finish that weekend. Since then the Canadian has driven there four times with the Heart of Racing Team scoring a high finish of fourth in 2020 with Ian James.

“I’m super excited to get back to IMSA sprint racing with Spencer and the Heart of Racing Team in Laguna Seca,” said De Angelis “Especially after missing out in Long Beach after the strong run we had going. We haven’t had the start of the season we would have liked, but at some point the luck needs to turn around and I think Laguna would be a great place for that to happen!”

Pumpelly is no stranger to Laguna Seca either, since 2017 Pumpelly has driven at the track six times. Five of those are starts in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge competition with a best finish of fourth in 2019. The Virginia native has won twice at Laguna Seca in 2007 and 2013 in the GS category.

“I’m excited to get another opportunity in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3,” said Pumpelly. “We had a great run going at Long Beach before getting taken out by a fellow competitor. Laguna will be a chance to get the team a better result. The team is great and I’m looking forward to driving with Roman again.”

The Heart of Racing Team will see the green flag for the WEC race on Saturday starting at 7:00am ET, all six hours can be watched on Max or on the FIA WEC TV app. Sunday the Heart of Racing Team’s IMSA squad will see the green flag wave at 3:00pm ET on NBC network and on Peacock.