The Heart of Racing (HOR) has grown its SRO program for the 2023 season, and will kick off the full championship season this weekend at Sonoma Raceway with one entry in the GT America powered by AWS series as well as two Aston Martins in the Pirelli GT4 America series.
Gray Newell will pilot the No. 25 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 once again after starting off the GT America powered by AWS season at the Firestone Grand Prix in St. Petersburg last month. Newell was just shy of back-to-back victories in St. Pete, and came home with two runner up finishes. Last season at Sonoma, Newell qualified 10th, but had two unlucky races and will be looking for better fortunes to back up his promising runs at St. Pete.
Pulling double duty for the weekend, Newell will join Ian James as the pair start their third season in Pirelli GT4 America together onboard the No. 24 Aston Martin Vantage. Newell and James are hoping to get off to a better start to their season than last year which saw the pair lead the majority of the race before an issue with two laps remaining sent the Aston Martin back to 15th in the order. Unfortunately, that same issue sidelined the pair for the second race.
“I’m ready to get back in the car with Gray,” said James. “We had a great run at Sonoma last year and we are already off to a good start in the GT3 car in the 24H Series, I think we can carry this momentum into both races this weekend. The team has worked hard in the off season to get this car ready and I think it’s going to pay off pretty quickly this season.”
Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt will make their Pirelli GT4 America debut this weekend onboard the No. 26 Aston Martin GT4. Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt emerged from The Heart of Racing’s all-female shootout which took place last November at Apex Motor Club. The shootout, which saw female racers from all around the world take two-full days of on and off-track training with HOR’s drivers and crew onboard Aston Martin GT4s.
HOR had originally intended to select one deserving driver, but the performances from both Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt stood out, and the team elected to provide the pair with the opportunity to co-drive in the Pirelli GT4 America Series.
Since that selection, Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt have had the chance to test HORs Aston Martins ahead of the season and are now ready to put their long awaited wait to the side and kick off their first race weekend as co-drivers.
Grisham came from a karting background before moving up to Spec Miata’s. Most recently, the California native competed in the World Racing League for the past two seasons having earned two national championship titles in the series.
“I’m so excited for my first race at Sonoma with The Heart of Racing,” said Grisham. “It’s a real full-circle moment since I have raced karts at the kart track at Sonoma as a kid and now I’m racing there in cars. I’m ready to kick the season off with a talented, great teammate and a new team for my first SRO start!”
O’Meara-Hunt will not only make her first GT4 America start, but will also make her first race start in North America. The 21 year-old Kiwi has driven karts in New Zealand and Australia for most of her career, earning SuperKart National Champion in Rotax Lights and SuperKart National Grand Prix Champion in Rotax Lights titles.
“I’m really excited heading into Sonoma and getting this new adventure underway,” said O’Meara-Hunt. “Coming somewhat into the unknown, a new country, new series, new car, new drivers, new rules, new tracks, I have been working hard since the announcement to prep to the best of my ability and to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible. I know with the support and experience of The Heart of Racing family I am in great hands and am pumped to head out on circuit to show what the No. 26 Aston Martin can do.”
Saturday, April 1st will include qualifying for both GT America powered by AWS and Pirelli GT4 America followed by the first GT America race at 1:00 pm PT and ends with the first Pirelli GT4 America race at 4:50 pm PT. Sunday will host a GT America race at 8:55 am PT followed by the Pirelli GT4 America race at 10:55 am PT.
Source. Sunday Group
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