Ross Gunn described he and Roman De Angelis’ result in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca as “damage limitation” after having been forced to start the race from the rear of the GT Daytona field due to a technicality.
Gunn and De Angelis took their No. 23 The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to a fifth place class finish, one position behind Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley, who continue to lead the GTD championship.
It came after Gunn set the quickest time in qualifying on Saturday that when combined with De Angelis’ qualifying lap would have put them third on the grid amid an ultra-close championship fight with the No. 96 BMW M6 GT3.
However, Gunn’s times were disallowed by IMSA after it was found that the Aston Martin factory driver did not stay in his car through the end of Q2 as dictated in the rulebook, relegating the No. 23 Aston to a last place starting position.
“It was frustrating but those things happen,” Gunn told Sportscar365. “Sometimes you have to take things on the chin like that.
“We had a great qualifying session and it was a shame to have it all ruined in an instant like that.
“Today was all about damage limitation.
“This place is really hard on tire wear so being behind somebody, you get the tires hotter and whatever.
“So being at the front has a massive advantage and particularly in Roman’s stint we were fighting through.
“We obviously had contact, which I think might have damaged the car slightly, which wasn’t [Roman’s] fault at all.
“P5 from where we were was a pretty good day at the office. I still feel a little bit disappointed after one of those weekends of what could have been.
“We still scored decent points but still feel like it’s been a little bit of a missed opportunity this weekend. We’ll have to fight back at Long Beach.”
Gunn said he didn’t feel like a late-race yellow would have helped their position in the end.
“They were telling me the gap and we were catching him a little bit,” he said. “I think if there was a yellow and we closed right up, we wouldn’t have had the pace advantage to overtake him.
“We would have been quicker but it would have been very tricky to get past.”
Gunn and De Angelis, who entered the weekend 18 points behind Auberlen and Foley in the title race, now face a 52-point deficit heading into the final three-race stretch of the season.
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Laurens Vanthoor and Zach Robichon, who claimed their third class win of the season on Sunday, have moved ahead of the Heart of Racing pairing in the championship battle, 27 points behind the leading Turner duo.
“The target was clear from Day 1 that we want to try and win the championship,” Vanthoor said.
“We are a new team together but it was also a little bit of an adaptation [for me] coming from GTLM to GTD. It’s different.
“It’s very clearly our goal. I think we’re now in a good position but there’s still three races to go. A lot of things can happen.
“For me, I always set myself a goal personally and this year it’s winning this championship. I hope we can fulfill it.”