The world’s two most prestigious sportscar series – the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) and the North American-based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – are back in action this weekend as Aston Martin’s multiple championship-winning Vantage seeks a victorious start to the second half of 2023.
Some of Aston Martin Racing’s key partner teams, the Heart of Racing (HoR), TF Sport and D’station Racing will compete on both sides of the Atlantic as the WEC recommences post-24 Hours of Le Mans at Monza (Italy), and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship continues at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport), in Canada.
On a run of two consecutive WEC podiums, including at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month, reigning FIA WEC LMGTE Am class champions TF Sport and drivers Ahmad Al Harthy (OMN) and Michael Dinan (USA), supported by works driver Charlie Eastwood (IRL), head to the 6 Hours of Monza on Sunday seeking to give the Aston Martin Vantage GTE its first win of the season and its first WEC class victory at the cathedral of speed.
Monza represents a critical point in the championship as TF Sport looks to build momentum into its world title defence. Having finished in second place in the past two rounds at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans, a strong result is imperative with only the 6 Hours of Fuji (JPN) on 10 September and the traditional 8-Hour finale in Bahrain on 4 November still to take place.
Aston Martin Racing partner team D’station Racing has also enjoyed its best WEC result to date at Monza, finishing third on the circuit’s championship debut in 2021. Satoshi Hoshino (JPN), Tomonobu Fujii (JPN) and Casper Stevenson (GBR) aim to achieve similar, or better, on the WEC’s last visit to the venue before switching to Imola in 2024.
HoR meanwhile has always planned to focus its efforts on Round 6 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with the 160-minute race at Mosport falling on the same weekend as Round 5 of the WEC. This means that NorthWest AMR’s vacant entry, which was taken by HoR at Spa and Le Mans, will remain dormant for the Italian race before being pressed back into action in Fuji.
The Seattle-based team, which won the Rolex 24 at Daytona to kick off the season, is keen to recover its GTD points lead with reigning champion Roman De Angelis (CAN) – on home soil – and co-driver LMGTE Am world champion Marco Sørensen (DEN) in the #27 Vantage GT3. The car won its class at the same event last season. Works driver Ross Gunn (GBR) and Alex Riberas (ESP) meanwhile have shown race-winning pace all season and are seeking to finally clinch the victory that has eluded them so far in 2023.
The Vantage GTE and GT3 are prototype versions of the British-built race car derived from Aston Martin’s critically-acclaimed ultra-luxury sportscar and share the same aluminium body-frame and a specially-tuned version of the four-litre V8 turbo-charged production engine. In all its variants (GTE, GT3 and GT4), Vantage is phenomenally successful, and is currently the reigning Rolex 24 at Daytona and a three-times 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner, as well as defending champion in the GT Am class of both the FIA WEC and IMSA.
Huw Tasker, AMR Head of Partner Racing, said: “This weekend is pivotal for our partner teams on both sides of the Atlantic. TF Sport has built up momentum in recent WEC rounds and a win now feels tantalisingly close at a circuit Vantage has always gone well on. D’station Racing deserves a strong result to match all the hard work the team has put in and Monza presents a great opportunity for this. In IMSA, the Heart of Racing has repeatedly proven it can be a force with Vantage and we can expect more of the same from the team at Mosport this weekend. Both HoR Aston Martins were on the podium at this event last year, and the team is proving to be just as competitive in 2023.”
Official practice for the 6 Hours of Monza begins on Friday, 6 July, at 1130 CET, with the race beginning at 1230 on Sunday. Follow details of the event via the official WEC website and App. Round 6 of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship begins with free practice at 1450 local time on Friday with the race starting at 1205 on Sunday. Go to the IMSA website for details of how to follow the race.