All Four Multimatic Astons in Top Ten After Intense Action in Alabama

All Four Multimatic Astons in Top Ten After Intense Action in Alabama

10.04.2013: In a race that saw Scott Maxwell's #55 Aston Martin Vantage twice taken out by competitor's

In a race that saw Scott Maxwell's #55 Aston Martin Vantage twice taken out by competitor's mistakes, and David Empringham's #15 trading paint with the Stevenson Camaro in the closing stages, it was impressive that the two Multimatic entries finished bumper to bumper in third and fourth spot; the podium spot narrowly going to the pairing of "Emp" and John Farano, their second of the year.

No less impressive was the opening stint of Michael Marsal, in the #71 Vantage, during which he appeared to be able to make passes at will in some of Barber Motorsports Park's more challenging braking areas. At one point Marsal climbed through the field and onto the rear bumper of the better qualified #16 Multimatic Aston of Nick Mancuso and the two of them put on an impressive display, running inside the top five and matching the leader's pace before the first pit stops.

Team Principal, Larry Holt, shook up the strategy with all four cars following different approaches at one stage. The Canadian team's chances were enhanced significantly by a number of the big challengers succumbing to the intense pace, some two full seconds faster than in 2012. Austin winner Bill Auberlen put himself out of the race on the spot when he ran into the back of Maxwell's Aston under braking into the corner five hairpin and the front running Fall Line BMW's and #61 Roush Mustang all succumbed to mechanical failures.

Multimatic's brace of Astons ran trouble free and the team's strategy and pit stops were impeccable, but ultimately the #13 Rum Bum Porsche pulled away from the field leaving the Astons of Empringham, Maxwell and Tonis Kasemets scrapping with the Camaros and BMWs for the remaining podium positions.

Despite some spectacular driving from Empringham and Maxwell, including the former partaking in some serious door handle to door handle action with John Edwards in the #9 Camaro, the Aston Martins crossed the line P3, 4, 8 and 10. A great result on a hugely competitive day but the team remains looking for that elusive outright win. Highlights of the weekend were as follows:

•    All of the practice sessions prior to qualifying were either damp or totally wet, and so with race day predicted to be clear and sunny, the team's two days of dry testing in mid-March ultimately proved invaluable. Farano didn't actually make it to the track until Thursday evening and his first session on Friday morning was so wet that the team chose to sit the #15 out.

This meant that his first laps were in qualifying and despite losing a good part of the session to a black flag he was able to grab 15th in an incredibly competitive field. Jade Buford's pole streak was just slightly broken as he claimed Q2 with his final, faster, attempt balked by traffic.

Mancuso in the #16 was equally impressive and looked to be locked into Q3 right up to the end of the session when he got slowed by the same traffic as Buford and was pushed back to Q5; still an outstanding result for only his second race in the Aston, having had to sit out in Austin due to technical issues with his car. Marsal put the #71 Q9 but was still coming to terms with a track that he is not very fond of; his times improving with every lap, a sign of good things to come in the race.

•    Buford made another of his patented fast and safe starts, tucking in behind Charles Espenlaub in the pole sitting #48 BMW and holding off the aggressively charging #01 CKS Camaro. Mancuso initially dropped a spot to the hard charging, and extremely quick #14 Nissan which ultimately drove to the front of the pack, but then immediately grabbed a spot back, ultimately driving to P3 and then capitalizing on the #16's single stop strategy to lead the race for a period of time after the first yellow.

But it was Marsal who lit-up the tight Alabama track in his Aston right from the drop of the green flag. Asked how the car was working he replied: "Fantastic, just leave me alone to drive it!"; which he did to great effect, ultimately ending up running on the back of Mancuso in P4 before stopping under green to hand-off to Kasemets.

Farano kept the #15 in the hunt and gained some spots before stopping under caution, on lap 27, for tires, fuel and to hand-off to Empringham. Buford took the same yellow with the #55 rejoining the fray with Maxwell at the wheel in P10 only to be rudely attacked by the #96 Turner BMW on the entry to turn 5, Auberlen's car being launched into the air by the rear wheel of the Aston, crashing to the ground and out of the race.

The Multimatic Aston was turned around facing the onslaught of traffic, somehow avoiding a direct hit but losing massive track position in the process. The team was immediately ready for a lengthy pit stop but Maxwell reported no apparent detrimental effect and set his fastest time of the race on the next green flag lap; almost amazing considering the severity of the accident and the fact that the M3 was fatally crippled.

•    At lap 45 just outside of the green flag fuel finishing window the #16 made its single pit box visit with Mancuso handing off to Frankie Montecalvo in a quick full service stop that kept the "kids car" on the lead lap. Unfortunately, the lucky yellow didn't happen, which would have cleverly cycled the #16 to the front, so Montecalvo had to battle it out on track with the rest of the field coming in under green a handful of laps later.

 #55 and #15 only took fuel and left side tires as the race entered its final hour and the blisteringly fast stops cycled the Canadian veterans to the front. But then the "Maxwell Magnet" kicked in and the #99 BMW lost control while the #55 was passing under brakes, turning hard right across the Aston's nose and ending up hitting the barriers hard.

Maxwell dropped to P7 but was again amazingly unscathed in the truly massive incident. Empringham and Kasemets both gained from Maxwell's misfortune inheriting P3 and P4 respectively, but then a small mistake by Kasemets dropped him down the order to P11, illustrating the intensity of the competition.

 Maxwell once again charged back from the setback to take up station behind Empringham waiting to grab P2 if "The Champ" got it wrong in his advances on the Stevenson Camaro. Ultimately cool heads prevailed and P3 and P4 were deemed a good outcome on the day and Kasemets was able to battle back to P8 in the closing stages with Montecalvo holding station in P10.

Multimatic Motorsports Team Principal, Larry Holt, commented
: "Four cars in the top ten is not a bad result on the weekend. Maxwell put in the biggest effort of the race having to come back from two major incidents, neither of them of his making.

But I have to say that it was Michael that impressed me the most with his first stint, he just got the bit between his teeth and drove up through the field on a track that is notoriously difficult for passing. Of course it was Dave and John that did what won them last year's championship, and just quietly drove themselves to a podium. I'm happy but won't be satisfied until we bag our first win."

The fourth race of the season takes place at Road Atlanta on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 at 12:30 PM ET in Braselton, Georgia.
Sean Mason , Stephen Charsley- photo Multimatic


10.04.2013 / MaP

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