Tough Weekend for The Heart of Racing at Sebring

Tough Weekend for The Heart of Racing at Sebring

The Heart of Racing will look forward to the SRO season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a tough weekend for both Pirelli GT4 America teams. Despite showing very promising speed in qualifying. Gray Newell finished out both GT America powered by AWS races with a fifth place result. Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt fought back to score a fifth place finish in Pirelli GT4 America. 

ImageThis weekend saw three Pirelli GT4 America races as the series made up for a canceled race from the April NOLA Motorsports Park race. The qualifying order remained the same as it did at NOLA. De Angelis started the race from fifth in class while Grisham started from fifteenth. 

De Angelis quickly made his way to sit fourth at the start of the NOLA makeup race, where he remained until he passed the seat over to Newell halfway through the race. Newell ultimately crossed the finish line in fifth. 

Grisham charged through the field, moving up three positions within the first twenty minutes of the race. By the time Grisham handed the Aston Martin over to O’Meara-Hunt, she had positioned herself in fourth. Unfortunately the No. 26 Aston Martin had a pit stop violation during its stop, forcing O’Meara-Hunt through the pits with a drive through penalty. O’Meara-Hunt rejoined the field in twelfth and was able to position herself for a pass at the finish line for tenth. 

ImageSaturday morning saw O’Meara-Hunt and Grisham qualify for the weekend’s races. O’Meara-Hunt scored a second place starting position in the first round of qualifying. Grisham completed the sixth fastest lap of the AM category during the second round of qualifying. 

O’Meara-Hunt was first behind the wheel of the Aston Martin, she nearly escaped from a wreck in front of her on the first lap involving the team's sister car. Due to the near miss incident, the No. 26 Aston Martin had fallen back in the field. O’Meara-Hunt handed the Aston Martin to Grisham in ninth with twenty-four minutes remaining. Grisham was able to work her way to fifth where she crossed the finish line. 

Starting from sixth in class, Grisham was able to maintain her position for the opening stint of the one hour race. Unfortunately the race was short when Grisham was involved in a race-ending incident in Turn 17. 

“Sebring is an awesome track,” said O’Meara-Hunt. “It’s not like any track I’ve driven before. There are a lot of big moments where you just have to send it into the corner, but that’s what I enjoyed Imagemost about the track. I think I got along with the track a lot better than most of the other times where I’ve had to learn the track this year. Unfortunately the weekend didn’t go as planned. We had two really good qualifying times with P2 and P6 in class. In the first race our sister car was taken out and it hurt us as well, we had to avoid it in the grass. We still finished P5 overall, but obviously we could have been a podium had we had the pace. In Sunday’s race we got into a bit of an incident and had to retire. Not the weekend we wanted, but I think there’s a lot of positives to take away from it. We’ve got heaps of pace for Indy. So we’ll do the right prep and come back in two weeks and smash it.” 

Newell was first to qualify for the Newell / De Angelis duo securing a third place starting position for Saturday’s afternoon race. Next up was De Angelis who set the fastest lap in the Pro-Am category with a 2:20.250 second lap. 

The first race for the No. 24 Heart of Racing entry unfortunately ended on the first lap after another competitor forced Newell into the wall. The team ultimately had to switch to a backup Aston Martin for the second race on Sunday. 

ImageThe No. 24 Heart of Racing team had to forfeit their class pole position, due to switching chassis and started at the rear of the field. De Angelis was able to quickly get the car towards the front of the field, passing the Aston Martin over to Newell in fourth. Newell ultimately crossed the finish line in eighth. 

“The weekend didn’t go as we had hoped,” said De Angelis. “Gray was involved in an incident that was not his fault, but put us in a backup chassis. The crew did an amazing job overnight to get us a car ready for the race today. We ultimately fell into a rhythm we’ve had in the last few races where we just get into traffic and it’s very difficult to pass. Thank you to the crew who did give us a good car. We are looking forward to Indy to hopefully change this sort of bad luck we’ve had. I think Indy will be really good with the GT4, the GT3 did great there last weekend and I think it will be the same when we return with SRO.” 

Newell pulled double duty competing in both GT America powered by AWS and Pirelli GT4 America. Newell qualified fifth in the GT4 category in GT America for Saturday’s race. 

ImageAt the start of Saturday’s GT America race, Newell quickly jumped to fourth and was able to defend the position until there was just ten minutes remaining in the race. Newell ultimately crossed the finish line fifth. 

Newell started Sunday morning’s race from fourth on the grid. During the first turn of lap one, Newell was bullied back two positions to sit sixth for a majority of the race. With just nine minutes remaining Newell made a pass for fifth where he defended to the finish line. 

The Heart of Racing team will finish out the 2023 SRO season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway October 6-8th with races on Friday and Sunday.