Danville, Va. (24 August 2019) – In a race that saw tricky conditions and multiple caution periods, young drivers Akhil Rabindra and Ross Gunn raced to a sixth-place finish at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) for Stoner Car Care on Saturday in the Automatic Racing-prepared No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin GT4. The results mark the team’s best finish of the year as the squad continues to learn more each time out with the all-new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 platform. The sister No. 97 Invisible Glass Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Ramin Abdolvahabi and Tom Long finished 18th.
In what seems to be a common theme during the 2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season, the Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix event at VIR once again saw rain play a big part of the weekend.
After final practice and qualifying was cancelled on Friday due to thunderstorms in the area, Saturday’s starting grid was set based on car championship points. That meant that the Automatic Racing-prepared No. 97 Invisible Glass Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Abdolvahabi and Long would line up 14th while the No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin GT4 of Rabrindra and Gunn would start 21st.
The lack of a final practice and qualifying session on Friday was unfortunate for the Automatic Racing-prepared Stoner Car Care machine after a fuel cell issue was discovered following the first practice. Unfortunately, the No. 09 Aston Martin was forced to miss the second practice session of the day as well.
With just the one session of track-time ahead of the two-hour race, Rabrinda and Gunn had their work cut out for them. But the duo never backed down from the challenge with Rabrinda taking the wheel of the No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin GT4 for the first 1 hour and 15 minutes of the race.
Despite a surprise rain shower that developed around the circuit which sent many of the GS competitors off track, Rabindra stayed perfectly poised behind the wheel of the No. 09 machine, maneuvering through a slippery track while remaining on the Michelin slick tires.
Following the rainstorm, the field circulated under a lengthy full course caution period to collect the cars that had been caught up in the melee.
During the caution, both the No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin GT4 and the No. 97 Invisible Glass Aston Martin Vantage GT4 made pit stops for fuel and Michelin rain tires. They restarted from 20th and 21st in the order, respectively.
Rabinda wasted absolutely no time in moving forward and in a matter of laps had made up 13 positions to run seventh for most of his stint. The No. 97 incurred a penalty during the pit exchange and was called to pit lane for a drive-through penalty.
When the race clock reached 45 minutes to go, both cars pitted for a full service stop which included a switch back over to the Michelin slick tires. Rabinda handed the car over to Gunn, while Abdolvahabi turned over the No. 97 Invisible Glass Aston Martin Vantage GT4 to co-driver Long.
“It’s a completely new track for me and it’s one of those tracks that you probably need a lot of running to come to grips with it, but it’s an awesome track,” said Rabinda. “It’s very fast and challenging. It was a very interesting race. We started P21 and finished sixth. I do think a podium was in reach so I’m not completely happy with sixth but hopefully we’ll get that podium soon. When it started raining, I just told myself to keep it on the track, don’t be a hero or do anything too risky. I had great fun coming up through the field, so I can be proud of that.”
As a light rain again moved into the area late in the race, a one-lap green flag dash to the finish was displayed with just minutes to go. Both Gunn and Long managed to work their way forward with precise driving on slick Michelin tires on a slippery track surface. Despite the unfavorable conditions, Gunn improved to take sixth at the checkered.
“It was slightly difficult since I only managed to get a handful of laps in yesterday, but I felt very good in the car,” said Gunn. “I’ve had a lot of experience in this car so that really helps in terms of the learning process with the circuit. I felt comfortable from the word go and it went pretty well. Our pace was tremendous. It was very tricky. I wasn’t expecting the race to restart (on the final lap) honestly. But it was a crazy lap. People were spinning left, right and center and we picked up a few more positions which was good.”
Long took 18th at the finish line.
“We had great pace all weekend long and we really had a great car,” said Long. “Unfortunately, with the weather and the way the yellows fell, the strategy just didn’t work out for us today. We were encouraged by the pace of the Aston Martin this weekend, unfortunately the racing luck just wasn’t on our side today.”
NBCSN will broadcast a two-hour race recap of the Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix on Friday, August 30 at 10:00 PM ET. Next up for the Stoner Car Care Racing team will be the two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Laguna Seca located in Monterey, California which will air LIVE on IMSA.tv September 14 at 5:55 PM ET.
About Invisible Glass
Automatic Racing sees their way to victory with Invisible Glass, the top-selling automotive glass cleaner in the United States. The Invisible Glass product line includes aerosol and spray bottle cleaner, Invisible Glass with rain repellent for windshields and wiper blades. Find more online at https://www.invisibleglass.com/
About Stoner Car Care
Stoner Car Care produces high-performance car washes, waxes, polishes, and dressings for auto enthusiasts and car care professionals. The Stoner Car Careline-up includes Invisible Glass, America's #1 Automotive Glass Cleaner, along with many other appearance products. Whether driving, washing or waxing, Performance Matters! Stoner car care proudly formulates all of our product since 1942
About Automatic Racing
Based in Orlando, Automatic Racing is one of the longest-running teams in the paddock, forming in 2001 and competing in all but one of the 11 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge races at Daytona. The team has been developing, preparing and racing the prestigious Aston Martin Vantage GT4 since 2012. Automatic Racing won the 2017 MICHELIN Pilot Challenge title.