Heart of Racing charts progress with Aston Martin Vantage Evo

Roman De Angelis is making his third start with the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Evo this weekend in the IMSA SportsCar Grand Prix of Long Beach, partnered with Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 27. Aston Martin made some major updates to its GT3 racer, coinciding with the introduction of an updated road-going Vantage, that made its competition debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. With a fourth-place finish in GTD for the No. 27 at Sebring, the team is making progress in its understanding of the new car.

“We did have four years of experience with a past-generation car, so we kind of knew the window of where we wanted it to be, what worked and whatnot — lots of time to experiment with different things,” said De Angelis. “There’s still things that we need to learn as a team where the car operates in the right window and things like that. But I think every weekend, we’ll just keep progressing in that aspect. Hopefully in the next few weekends, we’ll have a car that can win races — hopefully we can do that this weekend.”

The previous-generation Vantage certainly had its successes, including a GTD victory for Heart of Racing in last year’s Rolex 24, double GTD-GTD PRO wins at Lime Rock Park (2023) and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen (2022), and the 2022 GTD championship for De Angelis. But some drivers found the car to be a challenge. According to Aston Martin Racing’s head of performance, Gustavo Betelli, a primary goal for the Evo version was to solve that issue and broaden the performance window, and the car features revised aerodynamics and suspension.


“These new generation GT3 cars are more dependent than ever on aerodynamic downforce, so we wanted to make the car more stable under braking,” said Betelli at the car’s official introduction in February. “The old car would dive a lot under braking, so we had to try and control the pitch with the rear suspension setup. But this meant it was stiff, which made it quite snappy and also over-worked the tires. Working heavily on damper tuning, we have found a much better balance with the new car so we can generate the downforce without compromising the suspension setup. The result is much-improved progression and greater stability in all conditions. It also works its tires much more evenly, so teams have more options on strategy.”

Launching a new car at the enduros presented its own challenges, but De Angelis feels Heart of Racing is learning more about its new Vantage each time it runs. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

De Angelis says that Aston Martin hit its mark: “I thought the previous generation car was really difficult to drive. That was kind of the consensus between most of the drivers — it was just a lot more difficult to get that lap out of it, because the difficulty of the car. The rear was quite unstable. So this car kind of went in that direction to try to fix that, make it a bit more easy to drive, and I think it’s definitely done that. The raceability around other cars is also something I feel is a strong suit now.”

Like when he won the championship in 2022, De Angelis doesn’t have a full-season co-driver. Because he was moved to a gold FIA driver rating, he couldn’t continue with Marco Sorensen, his co-driver in 2023. The team recruited Pumpelly from fellow Aston Martin team Magnus Racing, which is concentrating on the endurance races, for Long Beach.

“I think he was a great choice, from the Heart of Racing side, of who to have in the car for this weekend,” De Angelis says of Pumpelly. “Obviously somebody with tons of experience, has driven the new Aston and has driven this event quite a bit as well. So I think we have a strong lineup and I think it was it was the best choice.”

Heart of Racing is competing in three different races this weekend — two at Long Beach plus the World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Imola in Italy. In addition to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Heart of Racing is represented at Long Beach by Gray Newell in the SRO America GT America races in a Vantage GT4. Newell and De Angelis scored a podium finish in Pirelli GT4 America Pro-Am competition at Sonoma Raceway two weeks ago, joined by a victory and a third-place finish for Hannah Grisham and Hannah Greenemeier in the Am class.

Story originally appeared on Racer