Story By: HALEIGH JORDAN / THE HEART OF RACING – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – When the green flag drops on the 61st Running of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona next Saturday (live coverage on NBC, 1:30 PM), The Heart of Racing (HOR) will start the 2023 IMSA championship from the front row of the GTD PRO field with the No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The sister No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage will start the race from the fourth row of the GTD class as a robust field of 61 GTD and Prototype machines are slated to start the race.
The two team entries earned their grid positions in a hectic 15-minute qualifying session on Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway to close out the three-day Roar Before the 24 test weekend.
Ross Gunn turned his best time of the weekend in the No. 23 Aston Martin with a 1:46.824-second lap, which led the session until the final moments when Gunn’s quickest time was eclipsed by just over a tenth of a second on the 3.56-mile circuit. The front row start marks the best-ever qualifying result for HOR at Daytona International Speedway.
2022 IMSA GTD Champion Roman De Angelis piloted the No. 27 Aston Martin GTD entry for the session, placing it in the top half of the grid with a fourth-row starting spot for the iconic 24-hour race.
The Aston Martin has had a competitive and consistent pace throughout the weekend over the course of five practice sessions ahead of qualifying.
The 61st running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona International Speedway weekend will start on Thursday, January 26th, with five practice sessions before Saturday’s main event. With live coverage on NBC, the famous 24-hour race will take the green flag at 1:40 PM ET.
No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Driver Quotes:
Ross Gunn: “It’s nice to qualify in the front of the grid. Of course a qualifying session for a 24-hour race doesn’t promise much so we still have a lot of work to do. I think we can work on setup a little bit for the race, and hopefully, we’ll be able to fight for some good results.”
Alex Riberas: “First, I’d like to say I’m super excited to be in Daytona for this special event. This is my seventh Rolex 24, and I feel like each year I learn something more. This year I feel very confident with the car and the team because are definitely showing up to compete and ready to fight to the end to get that precious watch.”
David Pittard: “I’m excited to be here for the first time with The Heart of Racing, but it’s my second time here in the Aston Martin Vantage. It’s great to be here with an IMSA team that has had so much experience and it shows. We’ve worked on many improvements during the sessions on Friday and Saturday and the balance of the car feels really good. With a competitive lineup like ours in the car, we are ready to make the most out of the 24 hours with a nice clean car so I think we have a good shot at the win.”
No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Rolex 24 Driver Quotes:
Roman De Angelis: “Qualifying went really well, we’re in the top half of the grid which is really important and a great place to start for the Rolex 24; hopefully far enough forward to dodge the chaos at the beginning. The car delivered a solid qualifying lap, and Ross did a really nice job qualifying second in GTD PRO. Both HOR cars are competitive this year so we’ll see what happens in the race.”
Marco Sorensen: “I think practice went quite steady; we tried a lot of things with the car to make it the best possible for race day. Roman did a great job in qualifying and now we can shift our focus to the race next weekend.”
Darren Turner: “Being back in Daytona with The Heart of Racing has been great and it’s great to have the hard work that’s been put into the setup of the car start to pay off. It feels a lot different from what we had last year and is a leap in the right direction. With a bit more tweaking with test sessions this week, I think we will be in a perfect position for the main event.”
Ian James: “We had a good Roar with very valuable practice time to getting ready for the race. It’s always a game of luck, but this year we feel more prepared than we ever have leading into the Rolex 24.”