The Heart of Racing Team finishes eleventh at Spa-Francorchamps

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The Heart of Racing Team finishes eleventh at Spa-Francorchamps

2024 FIA World Endurance Championship Spa, Belgium May 8th - 11th 2024 Photo: Michele Scudiero / Drew Gibson Photography

Stavelot, Belgium (11 May 2024) – After a promising race, the Heart of Racing Team finished eleventh after running in podium contention late in the race for the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday.

The race marked the team’s return to its WEC debut one year ago, as Ian James, Daniel Mancinelli, and Alex Riberas joined forces for the team’s first WEC outing in 2023.

Thursday saw two practice sessions where Mancinelli set the third fastest lap of the first practice session with a 2:21.387 second lap in the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage LMGT3. The team ended the third practice session Friday morning with the seventh fastest lap time before qualifying in the afternoon.

James qualified for the trio setting a 2:21.368 second lap, the fourth fastest lap of the 15-minute session moving him onto the hyperpole round. When the hyperpole round went green, James was on the verge of a pole setting lap when a Porsche caused a red flag before he could cross the finish line. James ended up setting the sixth fastest lap, but was moved to fifth when a competitor was disqualified.

James was first behind the wheel Saturday morning for the six hour enduro race, which was staged in front of a record crowd of fans on hand. Towards the end of James’ stint, a nearly hour-long safety car period saw Mancinelli take over the wheel. At the three hour mark, Mancinelli worked his way up from sixth to sit third.

On lap 88 a red flag was displayed forcing the field to a halt, with Mancinelli having raced up to run in second position at the time. The red flag ran down the clock to the final minutes before the checkered, but race control took the decision to add an hour and 47-minutes back on the countdown clock. When the field went back to yellow, the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage LMGT3 was forced to pit lane for an emergency fuel stop before the circuit went back to green.

Mancinelli came down pit lane once again as the green flag waved for a full service pit stop where Riberas took over the wheel rejoining the field in tenth on lap 93. Riberas worked his way up to third before pitting for one last pit stop. Unfortunately on lap 124 Riberas was caught in the marbles while avoiding a hypercar, forcing the Spanish driver off track. During the off track excursion, the engine shut off but as Riberas coasted into pit lane the Aston Martin Vantage refired. Ultimately Riberas crossed the finish line in eleventh.

“Performance wise this could have been our weekend, but we were not so lucky,” said Mancinelli. “We had a problem fitting the rear left tire during a pit stop and lost 50 seconds when I was third. We then had a red flag and when we resumed the race we were out of energy so we had to do two pit stops, one emergency and then a regular one three laps later. We finished eleventh which doesn’t reflect our potential. Now we look forward to Le Mans, we know that the Heart of Racing Team is strong and we are looking forward to one of the greatest races in the world.”

The Heart of Racing Team’s WEC program will be back in action for the 24 Hour of Le Mans June 15-16.