Team takes advantage of five test sessions to ready the No. 09 Aston Martin for the season opener next weekend
ORLANDO, Fla. (23 January 2022) – The Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing team put five Roar Before the 24 test sessions to good use this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, completing final prep for next Friday’s Michelin Pilot Challenge season opener, the BMW M Endurance Challenge (PEACOCK TV, Friday at 1:35 p.m. Eastern).
Rob Ecklin, Jr. and Ramin Abdolvahabi return to the team in 2022 ready to put their No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in contention for IMSA’s new Bronze Cup (for FIA Bronze rated drivers).
Ecklin and Abdolvahabi will share driving duties over the four-hour endurance event, but both drivers had commitments that hampered their ability to make the preview event (Abdolvahabi, a Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. neurosurgeon, missed Friday while Ecklin, the President of Stoner, Inc. missed the entire weekend). In their absence, the team’s former endurance driver, Brandon Kidd, took the wheel Friday to run the Aston Martin through its paces (Kidd, now a Silver rated driver, will not be able to run with the team in 2022).
“The goal was to get the car set up for Ramin and Rob,” said Kidd. “And I hadn’t been in the car since Watkins Glen last year, so it was nice. We had some mid-corner push, so we worked on that. But overall, the BoP (balance of performance between disparate manufacturers in sports car racing) is not in our favor, there isn’t an Aston Martin in the top 16. But we have no issues and did some good laps – I’ll be here next weekend to help in any way I can, looking at data with the drivers and helping out in pit lane during the race. It will be nice to stay connected to the team.”
Abdolvahabi took the helm for two sessions on Saturday and for Sunday’s lone morning test session, with increasingly cold and damp conditions requiring a balance between aggression and caution – though he set a personal best lap time in the final session, with a lap time of 1:56.508.
“This car has an inherent understeer, it pushes in the turns,” said Abdolvahabi. “It’s the nature of the beast but we’re constantly working to balance that out so it turns better, and we can go to power earlier. It got better, though a lack of mechanical grip means we do have to change our driving style a bit. But the car feels really balanced, though of course we’re low on power compared to some of the other manufacturers. All we can do is work on our part, hopefully Rob is happy with the car when he gets here!
“And of course, this weekend is about shaking off the rust. For all the non-professional drivers, who don’t drive for a living, it’s about getting back into it mentally. We have even more to shoot for this year with the Bronze Cup, and that always puts a little more fire into you!”
For Automatic Racing team manager David Russell, the home-race weekend was about setting up the No. 09 and preparing for the season opener next weekend – while being able to head home on Sunday night.
“It’s nice to know that I can be home in just 50 minutes!” said Russell. “Yes, we’re dealing with BoP issues that are resulting in less power, but all we can do is concentrate on our own program and do the best we can with the tools we have. Ramin had a personal best and it’s hard to argue with that, and we came away from the weekend with the car in good shape. This was a good test for the race weekend especially since it looks as though we’re going to have comparable weather next weekend. It’s the same challenge for everyone, getting cold tires up to speed, and there will be more of that coming up.”
Though unable to attend the Roar, Ecklin expressed his excitement for the upcoming race weekend.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out there with Ramin,” said Ecklin. “And being part of the Rolex 24 weekend brings so much energy and excitement. You go in with a big smile on your face – the trick is to come out with that big smile! It’s just the two of us over the four hours, but with all the World Racing League endurance events we did last year, we’re used to longer stints! I missed the Roar last weekend and while Daytona is always a challenge, I got a good amount of experience last year at coming into our World Racing League weekends on Friday night and jumping into the car on Saturday so hopefully within a couple of laps, I’ll be in the rhythm.”
Part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, the BMW M Endurance Challenge takes the green flag Friday, January 22 at 1:35 p.m. Eastern. The race will be live streamed in the U.S. on Peacock TV, while international viewers can watch via IMSA.tv. IMSA Radio will also be available at IMSA.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 of our product since 1942. www.stonercarcare.com
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 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. https://automaticracing.com