Story By: HALEIGH JORDAN / THE HEART OF RACING – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – The Heart of Racing (HOR) won their first victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Sunday, winning in the GTD category as the season-opening. The team’s win is Aston Martin’s first Daytona victory in the long-running event staged at the World Center of Racing.
Defending GTD champion Roman De Angelis returned to the No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, joining full-season co-driver Marco Sorenson, Darren Turner and Ian James. The team led 176 laps in the class leading to a breakthrough triumph in the endurance event.
The win was the first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory for all four drivers after HOR delivered 24 hours of well-executed pit stops and strategy to cross the finish line over five seconds clear of the pursuing GTD field.
The No. 27 Aston Martin HOR team also brought home the Michelin Endurance Cup: an award for receiving the best in-class position at the hour marks of six, twelve, eighteen and twenty-four throughout the race. Sorenson, the 2022 GTE Am winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Aston Martin, also turned the fastest lap in the class, 1:46.078-seconds.
In addition to winning the GTD class, Heart of Racing was competitive in GTD Pro with the No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 before a suspension problem compromised the car and it’s leading position.
The team of Alex Riberas, Ross Gunn, and David Pittard in No. 23 led 208 laps before being forced off track with the suspension failure 14 hours into the event. While the team was able to diagnose and rectify the issue in just 25 minutes, the long green flag runs and competitive field took away podium hopes for the GTD PRO team. The car was able to finish the race and came home seventh in class.
No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage GTD Driver Quotes
Ian James: “There is so much luck involved in winning here. Marco just finished the race and it’s a lot to sink in really. It’s an honor to be the first win for Aston Martin here at Daytona. It was an awesome job done by The Heart of Racing crew. I’m really proud of everyone here on the team. It’s been a real pleasure to share a car this weekend with Darren, Roman, and Marco. That was a wild last hour or so of the race, but now we can sit back and enjoy it. It was fantastic to watch the way Marco handled the pressure, he did it perfectly.”
Roman De Angelis: “I’m just so happy to be here with this team in victory lane. The whole Heart of Racing family is great, they executed pit stops perfectly. The 24 hour race in Daytona is the one I have always wanted to win since I was a kid so this feels pretty unreal. I first raced at Daytona with Ian five years ago so that winning this alongside him makes this even more special. I’m just going to embrace it. Every year we climb the success ladder a little more, Sebring is next so we will see what we can do there.”
Darren Turner: “It is absolutely incredible to win here in Daytona! The performance of the team has been absolutely amazing and honestly the Aston Martins have been the fastest thing out there on the track. I have been here a few times now, but this is the most fun I have ever had. Marco took the pressure at the end of the race, but he really kept it together. ”
Marco Sorensen: “Being the winner of all GTD and GTD PRO cars feels very special. Obviously we went for the victory in our class, but when you win it all it is pretty surreal. It really is a testament to how hard the team worked throughout the race. We kept it clean for the entire 24 hours and I am so proud of everyone. The race was hard on us, but we kept it together and it paid off”
No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GTD PRO Driver Quotes
Alex Riberas: “This Rolex 24 has been up and down for us. Our car was quick and competitive all throughout the race; we were in the top three most of the race and led several laps until our rear suspension issue. The team did a phenomenal job fixing the car and getting us back on track. Overall we got a big morale boost heading into the rest of the calendar and we are all moving forward with a very positive feeling to start out the season.”
David Pittard: “The first third of the race was very positive and we had high hopes. We ran into some issues in the night but we were still holding onto the lead lap until we had a rear suspension failure resulting in a 30-minute stop. That setback made it impossible to make up the 16 laps we lost, but that’s racing! The Heart of Racing crew repaired the car during the graveyard shift and got us back out again so we could still score points. We actually scored the maximum points at the six-hour and twelve-hour marks which is great for the team in the long run. Even though the final result isn’t what we were hoping for the team still made good of this race. It’s been very positive and we owe a huge thank you to the ladies and gents at HOR for giving it everything they’ve got.”
Ross Gunn: “First of all I just want to give a massive congratulations to the No. 27 crew and the entire Heart of Racing team in general. Winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona is really special. I am super proud of everybody. Obviously it was a little disappointing to lose laps due to a suspension issue when we were contending for the lead, but we led the first half of the race which was a great way to start the season. Sometimes you just need luck to go your way and unfortunately it wasn’t with us today. We will regroup and come to Sebring ready to go. I am very proud of everyone on the team, especially the guys that managed to get us back out when it looked like there might have been a potential retirement coming on.”