This past weekend at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut, the TRG-AMR North America team made a return to the Pirelli World Challenge for its second and third races in the Vantage GT4. Ben Keating, who was pulling double-duty in the American Le Mans Series as well, got behind the wheel of the Aston for only the second time. Impressively, it was his first time at Lime Rock, and he still managed to put the car in the top ten for both World Challenge races.
Keating previously had tested the Vantage GT4 at Long Beach during a practice session, but this was his first race weekend in the car, and he was setting some of the fastest laps of anyone in the GTS class.
The well-known short course is thought of as a “bullring” of sorts, but it was the weather that dominated the conversation over the weekend. With temperatures nearing 100 degrees, the humidity was wreaking havoc on drivers, with fatigue setting in much quicker than usual. For Keating, he would need all the energy he could get, running in two series’ back-to-back.
In the first race, Keating qualified the No. 66 Port Lavaca Auto Group/Viper Exchange/Adobe Road Winery Aston Martin in 12th, and ran strong, consistent lap times. With just a few laps remaining, the No. 66 was running tenth, but a caution bunched the field back up. When the green flag dropped, Keating tried to make a move but wasn’t able to, but was happy to keep the car clean and take a top ten finish in his first outing.
On Saturday, in a move that was a surprise and delight to the fans, TRG-AMR ran a second Aston Martin for driver Mark Klenin of Lonetree, CO. It was Mark’s first time in an Aston and he was immediately up to speed, posting lap times that put him right in the mix of the GTS field.
As for Keating, Race #2 saw him go off-course briefly early on, but he buckled down and suddenly started turning faster times than the previous race, at one point running the second fastest lap of the class. He climbed all the way back up to 7th where he finished.
It was a great weekend for the team, and with the imminent arrival of the GT3 this week, things are really starting to take shape!