Ross Gunn's hopes of winning the GTD Pro class of last weekend's Rolex 24 at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida ended when the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 he was sharing with Alex Riberas and Maxime Martin was involved in a multi-car accident, writes James Beckett.
The number 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin, with Riberas at the wheel, was an unfortunate victim in a collision that also ended the race for the Sun Energy-supported Mercedes AMG GT3 that was contesting the lead of the GTD (GT3) class lead. With a setting sun hindering visibility, a gaggle of cars collided as they exited the Daytona infield section to head towards the track's famed banking.
Riberas was involved in a collison, and before he could recover the Aston Martin was hit by another car ripping the rear wheel from the Heart of Racing entry - ending its race there and then.
The accident was a huge disappointment to the team, who had shown great pace throughout the build-up to the competition in testing and the pre-event 'Roar Before The 24' qualification race. Vale racer, Gunn, commented afterwards, "This was a real shame. We felt we had a great car, and I want to thank the whole team who did an amazing job. We felt were were in a good position to challenge throughout the race, and to end early was a shame. We will bounce back from this, and look forward to the next race at Sebring."
Riberas comments, "I am sorry for the guys. I sadly couldn't avoid the hit. To start with it looked like the Mercedes ahead lost power, and I was very much a passenger at that point. The accident ruined our race and that of other teams too. I want to say thank you to Heart of Racing for all their hard work here at Daytona."
The 60th-running of the Daytona 24 Hours witnessed a thrilling climax, with overall victory going to the Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 driven by current Indy 500 champion, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and British racers, Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist. A crazy last lap duel in the GTD Pro class saw Porsche triumph, with the Pfaff Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3-R of Matthieu Jaminet, Matt Campbell and Felipe Nasr claiming victory after a wheel-banging drive to the chequered flag against the KCMG Porsche.
* The IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship continues at Sebring in Florida in early March, when the famed Sebring 12 Hours takes place. The track will also host the opening round of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).