On its North American competition debut, the Grand-Am version of the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 showed its potential when drivers Scott Maxwell and Joe Foster led the early stages of the first race in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (CTSCC) at Daytona International Speedway this weekend.
Having qualified in third position in Thursday's qualifying, the #55 car, run by Multimatic Motorsports, passed its rivals in treacherous wet conditions to lead a field of 81 cars on Aston Martin's Grand-Am debut.
The second Vantage GT4 of Hollywood star Patrick Dempsey and Aston Martin chief engineer Chris Porritt similarly improved on its qualifying position in the early stages as Dempsey rose from 24th to 14th.
After 2.5 hours of competition - during which the track dried but was interrupted by many yellow flag periods - the lead Vantage GT4 of Maxwell/Foster finished in 16th, while Dempsey and Porritt finished 32nd in the Grand Sport category. Both crews suffered punishing delays that dropped them down the leaderboard.
During the first stint on a drying track, a yellow flag period allowed both Multimatic cars to pit for slick tires without losing ground. The #55 Vantage GT4 of Foster rejoined in eighth overall, while Dempsey's #71 car re-entered in 12th.
Foster and Dempsey pitted to make way for Maxwell and Porritt respectively, but not before the #71 Vantage GT4 was hit from behind. The exhaust was damaged in the incident and began fouling the rear tire, forcing a long, six lap pit stop, causing the car to fall down the order. Porritt delivered consistently fast laps in the #71 car for the remainder of the race to climb to 32nd in class.
The lead Aston Martin suffered similar misfortune when Maxwell was handed a 30sec stop-go penalty for a minor pitstop infraction. Having also dropped down the standings, his fight back was hampered by several more yellow flags, leaving him in 16th place in class.
Having completed the demanding race, Dempsey said: "It was a pleasure to be in an Aston Martin at Daytona. The Vantage GT4 handles and brakes really well and was awesome in the wet conditions. Chris Porritt was a great partner - it would be nice if Aston Martin could bring him back for another Grand-Am race so we could complete our unfinished business from today."
Larry Holt from Multimatic Engineering added: "I'm disappointed with the result, but pleased with the potential the cars showed. Without the incidents we would have had a top ten car today, but this is aggressive and competitive racing as we saw from the many full-course yellow flags today."
The next round of the championship will be held at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on March 30-31.