NEWS: Three Takeaways from FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s become fashionable of late to refer to Lime Rock Park as a “bullring” of a road course. Rightly so, as was again proven in Saturday’s FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix presented by Liqui Moly. As is normally the case at your favorite neighborhood short track, the laps fly by, setting up and executing a pass can take multiple laps and, when pit stops are involved, strategy and track position are crucial to success.
Here are the takeaways from the race.
Location. Location. Location.
The old adage about real estate rang true at Lime Rock. While outright lap speed and tire degradation surely played their parts, when it came down to the final laps, it was all about location, a/k/a track position. Although there were position changes aplenty in the first 130 minutes of the two-hour, 40-minute contest owing to different pit stop strategies, full-course yellows and drivers “managing” the tire wear on their Michelins, when it came to “go time” in the race’s waning moments, there was lots of drama but no overtaking at the front of the fields for both the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes.
Thus were the GTD PRO-winning No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3, the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) and the No. 3 Chevrolet Racing Corvette C8.R GTD blanketed by 1.138 seconds at the checkered flag after running nose-to-tail over much of the final stint. Similarly, the No. 77 Wright Motorsports Porsche crossed the line in third place in GTD barely more than a second adrift of the victorious No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin, with the No. 92 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche sandwiched in between. In both classes, the combination of Lime Rock’s tight confines, all but equal pace and the “risk versus reward” of losing a position or two in the event a do-or-die overtaking maneuver went awry conspired to maintain the status quo.
Win on Saturday, Sell on Monday?
Another old adage, this one a racing chestnut, says “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” Given that local zoning restrictions prevent racing at Lime Rock on Sundays, there’s a twist to that reflecting Saturday’s competition. Will Aston Martin showrooms see an uptick in business today in the wake of the Aston Martin GTD/GTD PRO Lime Rock “double?”
Given that the Aston Martin Vantage easily ranks as a bona-fide exotic car, it’s hard to imagine Aston Martin dealers the world over will arrive for work today to find lines of potential customers outside their doors. But having scored just the second GTD/GTD PRO sweep in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this season (Lexus achieved the first at Watkins Glen International in June) is most assuredly a feather in Aston Martin’s cap, albeit one the manufacturer and team have earned previously.
The Heart of Racing team also swept both classes in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen last year in what also was the No. 23 team’s most recent victory before Saturday’s.
GTD PRO vs. GTD
Chalk up the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix as another victory for GTD PRO competitors in their decidedly unofficial (but intriguing) battle with their GTD counterparts to claim the most overall GT wins in the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech Championship. For those keeping score, that’s now GTD PRO 4, GTD 3 thanks to GTD PRO overall wins at Sebring, Long Beach, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and now Lime Rock, compared with GTD overall wins at Daytona International Speedway, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Raceway and Watkins Glen International.
With four events remaining on the 2023 calendar – including another GT-only race, the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway on Aug. 27 – there’s plenty of opportunities for the GTD competitors to regain the upper hand over their GTD PRO rivals. The GTD and GTD PRO competition resumes – joined by the three prototype classes – in the IMSA SportsCar Weekend at Road America from Aug. 4-6