India’s Akhil Rabindra who bagged a spot at Aston Martin’s Driver’s Academy earlier this year raced for the fourth IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Atlanta. With Automatic Racing , Akhil claimed the pole for FOX Factory 120 with a lap at 106.679 mph. It is his first career IMSA pole and a new track record. The 23 year old racer, got the first podium for the new Aston Martin in Mugello in Italy at the start of the year and the first pole for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in the US at the end of the season.
“My car was wonderful. We got a really good setup and I think the weather has been changing to our favor. That plays a lot with the tires and setup. I have a great team behind me that nailed the setup and a teammate in Tom Long who brings a wealth of experience. I’m very happy with the result,” Akhil quoted.
Ultimately, it did not take long for Rabindra to set the pole-winning time. He put up the pole lap on his first flying lap. After being unable to improve on his second lap, he chose to bring it into the pits only six minutes into the session and watch everyone else try unsuccessfully to beat his time.
Leading the three-car Stoner Car Care team was the No. 09 Aston Martin driven by Aston Martin Young Driver Academy star Akhil Rabindra and sports car veteran Tom Long. Rabindra earned the pole and held the lead early while also trying to save fuel.Two early full course cautions assisted that effort, and Rabindra pitted from the lead for left side tires and fuel 35 minutes into the race, and headed back out on track in third.
With a small window for refueling based on the IMSA regulations for the Aston Martin entry the team was constricted for choice when it came to call for a pit stop. Sharing a pit box with a TCR class squad created an obstacle with overlapping pit sequences which forced the No. 09 Aston Martin to stay out on track until the pit box cleared. This unfortunately prevented Long from reaching his drive time minimum.
Despite battling from the back of the pack (including a well-timed move in Turn 1 to take second position), the team was relegated to the back of the Grand Sport class in the final results despite crossing the finish line second in the order. Rabindra and Long were disappointed for the team, but impressed with the season-long performance of the new-for-2019 Aston Martin.