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GT Racing News Notebook: IMSA, GT World Challenge & British GT

Heart of Racing Double Up In GTD

Alex Riberas will make his return to IMSA at Laguna Seca next month after competing in New Zealand since early 2020. Riberas will drive with the Heart of Racing and compete in the GTD class of IMSA alongside team principal Ian James.

“It’s inspiring to be back in the states with The Heart of Racing,” says Riberas. “I have a lot I want to accomplish in my IMSA career with this team.”

The 27-year-old Spaniard has driven for The Heart of Racing since 2014 and was competing for their IMSA GTD team in 2020. After the 24 Hours of Daytona, he happened to be in New Zealand just as the pandemic broke out. The country’s unparalleled control over the spread of COVID-19 prompted Riberas to remain safe within its borders. He then waited until he was fully-vaccinated to safely return to the US-based team.

“Alex has been part of our family since the beginning and it is great to finally have him back,” says Heart of Racing team principal and driver Ian James. “Racing alongside him is just another bonus to having him in the US.”

During his time abroad, Riberas helped to establish The Heart of Racing’s New Zealand program and led the team to victory in the New Zealand Endurance Championship. He clinched all three national titles while racing in New Zealand winning the North Island and South Island championships, as well as the overall national championship.

“Establishing the New Zealand program was an amazing experience,” says Riberas. “Now it is time for me to continue my adventure with the team it all started with.”

The return of Riberas and James comes as the #23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 piloted by Roman De Angelis and Ross Gunn is contending for the championship with just four races left.

Riberas and James will compete for the remainder of the 2021 IMSA sprint championship in their #27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, starting at Laguna Seca in September.

RAM Add Car For GT World Challenge At Brands Hatch And British GT At Oulton Park

RAM Racing will expand its current programmes in both the GT World Challenge Europe and British GT championships by fielding an additional Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Macanese racer Kevin Tse in a round of each contest.

Tse, 42, will join the Silverstone-based team for an entry into this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup event at Brands Hatch, before going on to handle the same Mercedes-AMG in the next round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Oulton Park (September 11/12).

For each event, Tse will be paired by a different professional driver, with AMG factory star Adam Christodoulou joining the team for Brands Hatch, before Tom Onslow-Cole makes a welcome return to RAM for the British GT round at Oulton. Tse and Onslow-Cole’s entry will run alongside RAM’s full-season British GT partnership of Ian Loggie & Yelmer Buurman.

Tse has a wealth of sportscar and touring car racing experience, having been a regular in single-make series such as the Lamborghini Super Trofeo and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, before being a class champion in the Asian Le Mans Series in 2014. He then switched his attention to tin-tops, finishing second in the 2016 TCR Asia Series, before graduating into the TCR International Series. Tse returned to GT racing for 2019 and was a winner on the streets of Macau with a Mercedes-AMG. His last competitive outing came in the 2020 24 Hour Series. He is also reigning champion in the GT World Challenge Asia Esports Real-Am division.

Christodoulou, 32, will partner Tse for the GTWC Sprint Cup round at Brands, marking his first outing at the Kent circuit since 2017. A Formula Renault and Star Mazda champion, Christodoulou has gone on to become a regular in the AMG factory driver roster, with notable victories in the Nürburgring 24 Hours and Barcelona 24 Hours to his name.

Onslow-Cole, 34, is a familiar face to RAM Racing, having competed regularly with the team since 2015 and forming part of its GT World Challenge Endurance Cup crew last season. A multiple race-winner in the British Touring Car Championship, Onslow-Cole is also a two-time International GT Open champion. He will make his first British GT Championship appearance since 2019 alongside Tse at Oulton Park.

Tse’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 will feature a striking new livery, bearing backing from Hong Kong-based luxury car dealer, Contempo Concept.

RAM Racing team principal Dan Shufflebottom: “It’s great to have Kevin onboard, and we’re really looking forward to working with him at both Brands Hatch and Oulton Park. It’ll be a real change of pace for him and quite a learning curve diving in to two very competitive championship mid-season, but we’ve brought in two true pro drivers to help get him settled in as fast as possible and I have no doubt he’ll impress a few people at both events.”

Emil Frey Reshuffle After Spa Shunt

Jack Aitken, injured in a multi-car incident at the Spa 24 Hours has been replaced for this weekend’s GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup round at Brands Hatch by Arthur Rougier in the #114 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini, the car transferring from the Pro Class to Silver Cup as a result of the switch.

Aitken is recovering from fractured vertebrae, a fractured collarbone and a minor lung puncture suffered when his Lamborghini struck the barriers at Raidillon before being hit by team-mate Franck Perera.

Rougier then will make a second appearance for the team after replacing Norbert Siedler at Magny Cours after a practice accident in France for the regular driver left him unable to continue.

Flying Lizard Boost GT3 Contingent For GT America, Memo Gidley Bags A Bentley

Flying Lizard Motorsports will field a two-car GT3 effort for the remainder of the 2021 GT America season.

The team will see the return of the #460 Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by longtime Lizard Andy Wilzoch. For the second entry, Flying Lizard Motorsports has partnered with TKO Motorsports to enter a Bentley Continental GT3 to be driven by Memo Gidley.

Wilzoch took part in two early races of the 2021 GT America season at Circuit of the Americas, earning a first and second-place finish in the series. The #460 will return to action with the same Porsche 911 GT3 R, which will sport a new rendition of the iconic Lizard livery, replacing the traditional silver and red for black and grey.

“I have been racing with Flying Lizard for many years now and really enjoy driving the GT3 R,” said Wilzoch. “Flying Lizard is a top-tier team who has such a rich history with Porsche and it is great to be part of that. I like what SRO has put together with the GT America class. It has a competitive group of drivers, and I enjoyed the event earlier this season, so I am looking forward to a competitive run for the final four rounds of the 2021 season.”

The Bentley Continental GT3 was purchased from K-PAX Racing who campaigned the cars for three seasons in Pirelli World Challenge, now the Fanatec GT World Challenge America. K-PAX Racing went on to win the 2018 and 2019 team championships with the Bentley machinery.

Driven by Memo Gidley, the #101 Bentley Continental GT3 brings together TKO Motorsports and Flying Lizard.

“We at TKO Motorsports are excited and honoured to have the opportunity to partner with a professional race team like Flying Lizard,” said Dave Traitel, Owner of TKO Motorsports. “We look forward to putting our best foot forward, presenting the TKO Motorsports image with Flying Lizard, and having a good team camaraderie for the fans to enjoy.”

The Bentley program will also bring back together Memo Gidley and Flying Lizard Team Principal and Program Manager Darren Law, who were previously co-drivers together in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in both 2013 and 2014.

In 2014 a harrowing crash temporarily side-lined Gidley, a longtime racing veteran with experience in CART, the Champ Car World Series, American Le Mans Series, Indy Racing League, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“I am so excited to get the TKO Motorsports with Flying Lizard Bentley and myself back to Road America: a fantastic track and awesome car,” said Gidley. “TKO Motorsports have become family and are so supportive of the effort I put into racing and the joy I get out of being at the track competing! I like to inspire people in life to keep chasing their dreams at any age, and not just get stuck thinking about what was or could have been. Chase those dreams and live your prime today!”

The Bentley livery will race a similar livery to its days in K-PAX Racing, with a dark green body with red highlights. The previous logos will be replaced by TKO Motorsports and the iconic Flying Lizard shield, a strong fan favorite piece of imagery in North American sports car racing.

“GT America has a great program for this type of racing with the GT3 cars, and this is an exciting opportunity for both Flying Lizard and our customers Andy Wilzoch and Dave Traitel of TKO Motorsports,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “Dave purchased one of the ex-K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 cars and is giving Memo Gidley an opportunity to showcase the ability of the machinery. We have had a lot of experience with this car and it certainly has the capability. Memo is such a great driver and has such a storied career, what makes this more special for me is that he and I were teammates several years ago. We drove together at Gainsco Racing in the Corvette Daytona Prototype at the Rolex Daytona 24 hour in both 2013 and 2014, it will be fun working together again.”

TR3 Doubles Up In GT World Challenge America

TR3 Racing will step up its SRO competition program this weekend with a new Pro-Am lineup in Fanatec GT World Challenge America presented by AWS. The team will grow to a two-car programme with a new Am class entry, as well as integrating a GT America outing on the weekend.

Martin Fuentes will co-drive with Giacomo Altoe in the #9 TR3 Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the Pro-Am class of the GT World Challenge America.

Bill Sweedler and John Megrue will co-drive TR3’s #10 Lamborghini in the Am class of the lead series, while Megrue will also drive the #10 Lamborghini in the companion GT America sprints, running in the SRO3 Masters category.

TR3 is currently seventh in the Pro-Am Standings, with Altoe’s best finish fourth in Round 3 at Circuit of The Americas.