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BRASELTON, Ga. (10 October 2019) – Saving the best for last, Aston Martin Racing Young Driver Academy pilot Akhil Rabindra took the top spot for the season-ending IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Fox Factory 120 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Driving for the Stoner Car Care-sponsored Automatic Racing team. Rabindra’s fastest lap scored the first North American pole position for the new-for-2019 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 on Friday.
The Stoner Car Care team is fielding three entries in the season finale, contested as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Motul Petit Le Mans.
Driving the No. 09 Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Rabindra and co-driver Tom Long were quick right off the truck, posting the fastest time in first practice Thursday morning and pacing among the leaders throughout the second and third sessions. Rabindra had the pole in his sights as he set the quick time of 1:25.715-seconds on his first lap, which meant he waited anxiously as competitors attempted to knock him off the top spot, to no avail.
Rabindra was happy to take that first pole of the season for his team and teammates, but the real test comes in tomorrow’s two-hour race.
“A strong team, strong teammates and a really good car, I couldn’t ask for more,” said Rabindra. “I’m so happy to get this pole for them and for Aston Martin. We had good testing yesterday, working through a lot of things. It was difficult for me to learn the track: it’s not the easiest track to learn, because there are so many elevation changes and blind corners. I have such an awesome team, starting with Tom Long – he has decades of experience, has driven so many different kinds of cars, and knows this track so well. I’ve gotten so many good tips from him on every corner, so I couldn’t ask for a better teammate and coach. We have a good car for the race: it took one and a half minutes to take the pole, but it will take two hours to take the win, and that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Kris Wilson and Gary Ferrera hope to finish tomorrow’s event one better than their opening-race second place at Daytona earlier this year. Driving the No. 97 Aston Martin, Ferrera set a personal-best lap of 1:27.574-seconds which places them in the 14th starting position.
“It was awesome as usual!” said Ferrera. “What a blast. We made some adjustments right at the end of the practice session and the team was spot-on. Having crashed here a year ago, it’s been in the back of my mind for a long time and now it’s gone. It is a perfect race car and I think we’re good to go for the race.”
For series rookie Ben Waddell and Aston Martin veteran Ramin Abdolvahabi, today’s qualifying session was the first step in the final odyssey for the No. 99 Aston Martin. Bearing the iconic electric blue Stoner Car Care colors, the car – which has seen more than 62,000 racing miles since 2013 – will see its last Michelin Pilot Challenge race on Friday. Abdolvahabi experienced an electrical issue that limited his laps, but believes he has the car to contest on Friday.
“The car felt really good, but the engine shut off in Turn 3 and I had to coast and reset” said Abdolvahabi. “I know the car had more time in it, but that’s the gremlins of racing. It is bittersweet: tomorrow is the last time we’ll hear that signature older Aston Martin roar at a professional racetrack. Hopefully we’ll give her a good sendoff!”
The Fox Factory 120 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta takes the green flag at 1:25 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, live on IMSA.tv. NBCSN will broadcast a two-hour race recap on Friday, October 18 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
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 Care line-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 our own 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.