Florida-based team aims for the new Bronze Cup in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge GS Class
ORLANDO, Fla. (17 January 2022) – The Stoner Car Care Racing fielded by Automatic Racing team makes the short drive north on I-4 to Daytona International Speedway this week, as the Roar Before the Rolex 24 begins the 2022 season for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series.
Team veterans Rob Ecklin, Jr. and Ramin Abdolvahabi return behind the wheel of the No. 09 Stoner Car Care Aston Martin Vantage GT4, committed to battle for the Bronze Cup title in the series’ Grand Sport (GS) Class.
The Bronze Cup award is new for IMSA this year, with podium and season-end recognition to the top Bronze-rated finishers. Every driver in each car’s lineup must be Bronze rated and while both Ecklin and Abdolvahabi know the competition will be tough, they’re excited for the prospect as preparations continue for next weekend’s season opener, the BMW M Endurance Challenge.
While the three-day Roar event offers teams the chance to blow off the off-season rust, business obligations will preclude Ecklin’s attendance at the Roar.
“I’m very disappointed that business will keep me away this weekend,” said Ecklin, president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Stoner, Inc. “It’s a holiday tradition, to head immediately to Daytona! It’s such an iconic track – we’ve been there so often but every time you go feels so special. It’s going to be stiff competition in the Bronze Cup this season, with some very fast drivers in that category, so it’s going to be fun. It’s one more challenge to go after.”
With Ecklin not on hand this weekend, the team’s former endurance driver, Brandon Kidd, will step in to test the Aston Martin on Friday and get the setup ready for Abdolvahabi.
Kidd was recently upgraded to a Silver ranked driver, taking him out of eligibility for the Bronze Cup and curtailing his race plans for the year.
Abdolvahabi will use the remainder of the sessions on Saturday and Sunday to continue setup work and to bring himself back up to speed on the high banks and tight corners at Daytona.
“2022 presents an entirely new challenge with the new Bronze Cup,” said Abdolvahabi, a neurosurgeon in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. “It’s great that our efforts to get this Bronze Cup in the series have paid off. It’s a motivation – we know that at this stage in the game, it’s unlikely that two Bronze drivers, or even a Silver and a Bronze, can go up against two Gold drivers. This gives us a level playing field and a way to get recognized for that. But for the Roar, the goal is to get back into the groove. We haven’t been in this car since Road Atlanta, so we’ll do some data gathering at Daytona and get some strategy going on. It’s a great warm up for next weekend.”
It will be quite busy in the Automatic Racing garage this weekend, as team manager David Russell will also field an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for Paul Kiebler and Jon Branam.
“We’re looking forward to the Bronze Cup,” said Russell. “Rob and Ramin will run the full season, gunning for that title, and I think they have a good shot. The Bronze Cup concept is very popular around the world. The Bronze drivers are really the backbone of the series so I think IMSA will be surprised at how positive the outcome will be. There are so many guys who are not full-time race car drivers who are super competent on the racetrack so it’s good to recognize them.
“For the team, it’s great to start off with a home race, just 45 minutes up the highway,” Russell continued. “It’s so much more efficient, especially with the Roar and the race being back-to-back – that was a good move by IMSA. The field is super strong this year, and it’s clear that the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will continue to break records so there are so many positives right now with the extent of manufacturer involvement and the caliber of teams.”
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