TRG-AMR Aims For Elusive Victory At Twelve Hours Of Sebring
TRG-AMR has a collection of trophies from the most prestigious endurance races that is envied by rivals throughout the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The team has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Rolex 24 At Daytona, four times. Petit Le Mans. The Six Hours of Watkins Glen.
You name the endurance classic, and owner Kevin Buckler's team from Petaluma, Calif., has won it - except for one event: The Twelve Hours of Sebring. The team's best finish in the once-around-the-clock classic in central Florida is second in 2011.
TRG-AMR enters this year's Twelve Hours of Sebring motivated to earn a finish that accurately mirrors the true performance of the No. 007 and No. 009 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 and also rounds out its trophy case with its one missing crown jewel of North American sports car racing.
David Block, Al Carter and James Davison once again will share driving duties in the No. 007 V12 Vantage GT3, with Max Riddle, Kris Wilson and Brandon Davis on the No. 009 V12 Vantage GT3. This strong lineup will contend for victory in a striking new livery reflecting a partnership for this event with Bayshore Capital Inc. to promote ownership opportunities at the proposed Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.
"It would mean everything to get this win," Block said. "I would not only love to get a victory for me as a driver, but it would be fantastic to deliver the one win TRG has not had - for them with my co-drivers and for the entire crew."
The 12-hour race starts at 10:15 a.m. (ET) Saturday, March 15 on the 17-turn, 3.74-mile Sebring circuit. FOX Sports 1 will provide live television coverage from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET), with the remainder of the race streamed live on IMSA.com.
TRG-AMR's No. 007 finished 22nd and the No. 009 placed 26th at the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 25-26 at Daytona International Speedway, but that result deceived. Davison was one of the quickest drivers in the GT Daytona class and drove the team to the lead around the midway point of the 24-hour race before a penalty and a broken radiator caused by hitting another car's debris dropped the car down the running order.
"Sebring can't come soon enough for the No. 007 TRG-Aston Martin Racing team," Davison said. "Daytona was a great performance for us but a disappointing result in the end."
The team made good strides during testing Feb. 20-21 at Sebring to find smooth suspension setups and proper chassis balance for the notoriously bumpy circuit, which features a challenging, rugged blend of corners and surface changes between asphalt and concrete. The No. 007 was consistently among the top five on the speed charts throughout the test and ended up less than a second off the leading pace for the class.
"Sebring is such a unique place," said Carter, who made his Sebring debut with TRG-AMR in 2013. "I love it and I hate it for all the same reasons. It's tough. It's bumpy. It's technical. It's hard. It's challenging. We learned (at the test) that our car did everything OK. It handled adjustments. It handled the bumps. We can make it into a competitive race car."
Riddle, Wilson and Davis were named to drive the No. 009 early during race week. But Riddle and Davis were part of the two-car team of drivers for TRG-AMR at the Rolex 24, and veteran Wilson and Riddle are full-time drivers for the team in its V8 Vantage GT4 in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
"I've always really, really wanted to do the event, especially after doing the Rolex 24," Riddle said. "The GTD Aston is just such a cool experience. The opportunity came up pretty late, but I can't wait.
"Since the Aston is such a well-balanced race car, it handles great, I think that will really suit this track. The guys at TRG will make sure the car will be handling as well as it can, and I think we'll do well."
DAVID BLOCK (No. 007 Residences at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3): (About extra motivation at Sebring due to disappointment at Daytona): "I got caught up by the debris from Scott Pruett's car around midnight at Daytona, which took us out of the race for over an hour to replace the radiator. Otherwise, we'd have been up at the front. Barring any other unforeseen circumstances, we have a great car, great drivers and great crew, and we have prepared diligently for the Twelve Hours at Sebring. We are very optimistic about our chances of grabbing a podium there." (About characteristics of Sebring suiting V12 Vantage GT3): "The car is generally quick everywhere. The slower-speed corners definitely play into the V12's torque. I definitely think the more corners we have, the better off we are. You have to push yourself to push the car a little harder and trust its grip through the bumps. The track is definitely more physically demanding with much more lateral load/Gs than Daytona and about 10 brake zones, versus five at Daytona, so your conditioning is key. It also looks like it will be significantly warmer, so hydration will be much more critical as well to us as drivers, and having Royal Purple in the engine will be a key advantage during these long, hot races." (About what it would mean to deliver first Sebring victory for TRG-AMR): "Everything! I would not only love to get a victory for me as a driver, but it would be fantastic to deliver the one win TRG has not had - for them with my co-drivers and for the entire crew." (General Sebring overview): "I have spent quite a bit of time testing at Sebring now and am excited about our chances at this great old circuit. It is extremely challenging, and thus can be extremely rewarding. The team is doing everything right to make this a potentially very rewarding race for us all. We certainly appreciate all the support from our sponsors, particularly the Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach, Royal Purple, Jetset Magazine, Sideskinz, B+ Foundation, Eagle and Adobe Road Winery."
AL CARTER (No. 007 Residences at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3): For a first race in the TRG Aston, things were all coming together, and the car started to perform. The drivers were doing well, and we got the car up running toward the front after we started a couple laps down. And then racing, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. We had a radiator break after hitting debris from another car. At that time, if we had a clean race, we were definitely a top-five team. At Sebring, for me as driver and knowing how the team, the car is all coming together, it's exciting to think what we can do at Sebring, as well as the entire season." (About development of car in testing): "Sebring is such a unique place. I love it and I hate it for all the same reasons. It's tough. It's bumpy. It's technical. It's hard. It's challenging. We learned that our car did everything OK. It handled adjustments. It handled the bumps. We can make it into a competitive race car." (What it would mean to you to deliver first victory for TRG-AMR at Sebring): "For me, being my first full season with the team, to do anything to add to the legacy of TRG would be awesome. To get that first win in an Aston Martin at Sebring with me as a driver, that would be a big deal." (About challenges of Sebring): "Sebring is unlike any other racetrack I've been to. Experience matters because there are so many different lines and spots that you want to be in and don't want to be in. There are turns that can be done in many different ways, so as a driver, every lap and every turn is almost an experiment in finding more speed as you're getting thrown around in there. It's the challenge of Sebring that gives it a world of mystique."
JAMES DAVISON (No. 007 Residences at Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3): "Sebring can't come soon enough for the No. 007 TRG-Aston Martin Racing team. Daytona was a great performance for us but a disappointing result in the end. Al and David got some invaluable seat time at the recent test we did and made some promising gains. We still have a little work to do on the car balance that I'm confident we'll get on top of in practice. In my eyes, all we need to do is have a clean race, and a strong result will eventuate. I'm highly motivated and excited to get going."
MAX RIDDLE (No. 009 Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3): (About being named this week to drive the No. 009 at Sebring): "It's a late call, but we've been thinking about this for a little while. I've always really, really wanted to do the event, especially after doing the Rolex 24. The GTD Aston is just such a cool experience. The opportunity came up pretty late, but I can't wait. I was testing here with TRG-AMR here about a month ago in the Continental car, and the test went well. I got the times down, got the car set up well, so I think we're going to do well at this track." (About how the Vantage will adapt to Sebring): "Since the Aston is such a well-balanced race car, it handles great, I think that will really suit this track. Daytona is such a top-end track, whereas Sebring you've got rely on handling to set up the car a little more. I definitely think we're going to be a better off here. The guys at TRG will make sure the car will be handling as well as it can, and I think we'll do well."
KRIS WILSON (No. 009 Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3): (About switching between V12 Vantage GT3 in TUDOR SportsCar Championship and V8 Vantage GT4 in Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race this weekend): "In the GT4, you're right-foot braking. In the GT3, you're left-foot braking. You almost have to turn a button to say: 'OK, I'm in the GT3 now. Now I'm left-foot braking. In the GT4, it's like, 'I have to use my left foot on the clutch.' So you have to desensitize your foot for the clutch, where you're more sensitive for braking. So there's definitely some transition there."
BRANDON DAVIS (No. 009 Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3): (About returning to team this week to race at Sebring): "Kevin (Buckler) and I have a good relationship. We were always looking for a way to put something together for Sebring. I had planned to go out to do some instructing at Spring Mountain in Nevada. Then at 6 a.m. Tuesday, I got a text from Kevin that said to call me ASAP, I might have something at Sebring. Then a few hours later, I was booking flights and on my way to Sebring." (About V12 Vantage GT3 at Sebring): "It's a strong car, and we have the right team behind the car to make it run well. We have the right people working on the car. We'll get there. I think the focus is on working on our package and making it the best we can make it and let the chips fall where they may."
Race: Twelve Hours of Sebring
Date: March 13-15
Venue: Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Fla. (17 turns, 3.74 miles)
Race Duration: 12 hours
TRG-AMR Team (GT Daytona class): No. 007 Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, drivers David Block, Gates Mills, Ohio, Al Carter, Greenville, Del., James Davison, Melbourne, Australia. No. 009 Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, drivers Max Riddle, Vancouver, British Columbia, Kris Wilson, Golden, Colo., Brandon Davis, Napa, Calif.
Schedule: Practice, 9:55-10:55 a.m. (ET), 4:05-5:05 p.m., 8-9:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13, 9:55-10:55 a.m. Friday, March 14; Qualifying, 4:10-4:25 p.m. Friday, March 14; Race, 10:15 a.m.-10:15 p.m., Saturday, March 15.
Broadcast: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (ET) Saturday, March 15, FOX Sports 1; 1-10:30 p.m. Saturday, March 15, IMSA.com. Highlights show: 8:30-11:30 a.m. Sunday, March 16, FOX Sports 1.