Leading U.S Aston Martin team Automatic Racing is working on adding a third Vantage GT4 to its stable for next year’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
Automatic, which brought the second-gen Aston to American shores at the start of this year, is set for expansion after a successful debut season with the package.
The Florida-based team’s owner David Russell told Sportscar365 during the Fox Factory 120 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta that a third Vantage will be in the country soon for Automatic to test.
The car will be delivered to CSJ Motorsports, which was named Aston’s official distribution partner for North America earlier this year.
“We’ll potentially expand a bit, under the right circumstances, the right criteria and with the right group,” said Russell.
“There’s a fair amount of interest in the car, so we’re going to try to build on what we have learned this season.
“A new car in its first year is always a bit of a development [process], getting to understand the car from the team’s and manufacturer’s perspective.
“We’re just trying to build on that and learning as much as we can this year, which was the goal, which we achieved.
“There is a third car coming to the U.S. in less than three weeks; it will be shipped. All the details haven’t been completely sorted out on that yet [but] we’d love to have a three-car effort next year.
“I have not purchased the third car. I’m working on that.”
Russell said that Automatic gained confidence in the second-gen turbocharged Vantage throughout its debut season.
The car, which it ran alongside a previous-gen naturally aspirated V8 Vantage, took pole at Road Atlanta but was stripped of its podium finish for a drive-time infraction.
“This [new] car has more aero, the old car has very little there with tiny little dive planes, in comparison to the modern GT4 cars,” said Russell.
“Because of that, it’s easier to drive. It’s very user-friendly, as was the old car. It likes to be driven hard, whereas the old car was a bit heavier and liked a little less slip angle and was a bit more subdued.
“We’re learning it. Every session we’re learning more and getting something out of it.”
Russell added that the inputs of Aston factory driver Ross Gunn – one of the most extensive second-gen Vantage GT4 testers – and prospective AMR junior Akhil Rabindra throughout the season quickened the team’s learning process.
“[Ross] brought a lot of information, and then he brought out some other stuff that the car is sensitive to, setup wise, because he’s lived it,” explained Russell.
“He’s got more miles in it than anyone. He and Akhil may have the most amount of time in this car in Europe. They came over with a really good understanding of it.
“Between them and my engineer, we were able to come up with a really good setup. The first session out, they were like ‘don’t touch it’.
“Then we made one change, and since then it’s just been about fine-tuning.”
New Aston U.S Supply Base Proving “Really Helpful”
Russell, who is a long-time Aston entrant, believes the establishment of CSJ Motorsports as the marque’s North American distributor has been a significant step for his team.
“It’s great for us because they’ve really stepped up and provided good support,” he said.
“CSJ come in and handle all the Aston-specific stuff, largely the Bosch electronics, and we collaborate on some different things so there’s a good stream of information back and forth from the UK.
“That’s been really beneficial to us and, I think, to them as well. Cy [Jary, CSJ co-principal] shows up with the spare parts – he’s got a trailer full of them, so I don’t have to haul a bunch of inventory around.
“Since these cars are new, that’s really important. For me, it’s mega having them here. It’s been really helpful.”