After consistently competing for championships in Pirelli GT4 America, Drew Staveley and Ian Lacy Racing made the step up to Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS for the 2021 season with an Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Staveley discusses the team’s first weekend in the top class, the adjustment to GT3 after years in GT4 cars, his co-driver Frank Gannett’s development, and more.
What were your takeaways from the first weekend in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS for you and Ian Lacy Racing?
“It was actually pretty positive looking at it as a whole. We knew we weren’t going to be as competitive as we wanted to be just from the fact that we pulled the trigger on the GT3 program fairly late.
“We knew that there would be some issues. Throw in on top of that and the storms that caused travel and shipping issues just before Sonoma, the whole world was behind.
“That added a lot of unexpected delays to the whole program. Looking back at the weekend we’re all pretty positive on it because we learned a lot.
Did the Sonoma weekend meet your expectations?
“We knew it was going to be hard. I didn’t personally expect it to be as hard to find the pace as it ended up being, but that being said the whole time we were there we were making changes.
“Now we understand what happened from those changes. We learned a lot. The car showed some speed and I think it’s going to be really fast once we’ve dialed it in.
“Another big portion of it is our relationship with Aston Martin Racing and them learning us as well. It’s been a lot of fun. Since the race we’ve built a nice relationship with them.
“We were able to learn a lot from what they’ve done, so all of this is trending very positive. The short answer is we were frustrated but looking back at it I think we got what we deserved because of how late we got started.”
How much of what you learned at Sonoma will carry over to the rest of the season and how much do you think will end up being Sonoma specific?
“We’ve been tossing that around over here. Sonoma is so different from anything else on the calendar, and even more so with the Aston Martin guys that are helping us, they don’t have an equivalent track.
“We were running a softer spring package than they were used to just because of how different it was. I’ll have a better idea after COTA because it’s a more traditional track where the car has been very succesful all over the world.
“We’ve certainly as a team, the core issues, we’ve learned a lot. We will be able to take that to the next track and the next time we go testing.
“Everything was valuable, it’s just that how the car behaves on that track with that package is not super valuable just because it will be so different for COTA.”
What is the testing plan?
“Getting the car turned around is more work than the GT4 car, which we expected. It uses up a lot of consumables. You’re dragging the floor and all of these things.
“It’s a very strong car but it’s also very fragile in places, just like any other GT3 car. We’ve been working on it quite a bit.
“We did a one day test here in Utah and that was to work on some big things that need more time to play with like how sensitive the differential to adjustments and some cool geometry changes that we’re allowed to do that we weren’t bold enough to try at Sonoma since we were focused on so many other things.
“Then our plan is to go to COTA on the 16th and 17th of April for a two-day test, then hopefully figure out where we can find some speed with this thing and start fine-tuning it to that track.”
How is Frank feeling about the new project?
“He is really happy. He really enjoys driving the car. The car is reasonably easy to drive to compare it to a GT4 car in the sense that it does everything it’s supposed to.
“A GT4 car, you’re still driving around some production car issues. To make a Mustang go faster you have to be really comfortable with pushing through some Mustang characteristics.
“The Aston is a purpose-built race car and it does what it’s told. Frank is really comfortable in it and he really enjoys driving it. When we had it in the window that was pretty good at Sonoma Frank did a good job getting everything out of it.
“As a whole, we need to be faster, we need to be better, and I think that if he can continue to drive like he did, for instance in qualifying, then we’ll be in pretty good shape.
“He’s definitely happy and excited about the challenge so we’re all systems go for the future!”