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AMR Feeling Prepared Despite Limited Test Running, New Driver

Aston Martin Racing unperturbed following eventful Roar test and Dalla Lana’s late withdrawal…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

Aston Martin Racing’s drivers aren’t concerned about the limited Roar Before the Rolex 24 running their GT Daytona car experienced as a result of Paul Dalla Lana’s injury that forced the Canadian to miss this weekend’s Daytona race.

Team patron Dalla Lana was ruled out of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener after picking up an ankle injury shortly before the Roar test.

This prevented the car from running for much of the event and also forced AMR to scramble a late replacement for its Bronze-rated crew member.

The British team chose Silver-rated Aston factory junior Andrew Watson, who currently drives for Gulf Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Watson, a U.S racing rookie, will share the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Ross Gunn.

Ahead of Thursday’s track action, Lamy and Lauda told Sportscar365 that AMR is approaching the race positively despite its new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 only turning laps in three of the seven Roar sessions.

“We had a quite positive test, even if we didn’t start early enough or as we would have liked,” said Lamy.

“But we did some laps and managed to get all three drivers quite a few laps and [enough time] for them to adapt the car.

“We didn’t have a lot of power compared to the others, but the BoP is always a question mark. so we’ll see if we are up there or not. Hopefully, we are competitive.”

Lauda added that the team would miss Dalla Lana’s experience of the Rolex 24 event, which he is missing for the first time in ten years.

“We lost two days of running but in the last two days we could do quite a lot and test a few things,” he said.

“We didn’t miss too much, to be honest.

“Paul, speed-wise, is really fast so it’s a shame that he’s not here and without him we would not be here anyway.

“We have to thank him very much for the opportunity to keep the car going, even without him, and that we can race with another driver. The lineup is strong.”

Watson Relishing Last-Minute Daytona Chance

Late substitute Watson told Sportscar365 that he is confident ahead of his IMSA debut in the 18-car GTD field despite the prospect of limited track time in the run-up to the race.

The Brit cited IMSA’s sporting regulations, which are different from the rules he has become used to racing under in the WEC, as one of the main learning points.

“It came about quite late,” said Watson. “Lots of things happened behind the scenes that I wasn’t really involved in, but I found out last Thursday.

“The guys missed a lot of running at the test because they weren’t sure what was happening behind the scenes.

“I’ll probably only get 15 or 20 laps before the race, but in a 24-hour race ultimate lap time isn’t everything so I’m not too worried about the [limited] track time.

“Not having tire warmers is interesting – I’ve never raced this level of car without tire warmers,” he added.

“Having felt how cold it was last night when I arrived in Daytona, it’s going to take some management in terms of not taking too much out of the tire when it’s cold.”

Watson visited Darren Turner’s Base Performance simulator facility immediately after his confirmation in the No. 98 car and received support from Aston works drivers Turner, Jonny Adam and Ross Gunn as part of his accelerated preparation.

“I’ve been on the sim and it’s a very technical circuit, but all drivers now have to be really good at adapting quickly,” said the 24-year-old.

“I did a few hours on iRacing as well, but I don’t like to do hours and hours on the sim because I don’t want to learn it on there and then have to re-learn it.

“But to be honest,  the AMR/Northwest guys are really professional at what they do and they’re doing the best to get me up to speed. That’s the sort of thing that I want to do this weekend well, learn the regulations and not make mistakes.

“A result here would be huge. I got my first WEC podium at Bahrain in December and that was a big achievement, so to follow it up with something here would mean a lot.”

John Dagys contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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