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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Contact ends promising run for Ashton Harrison at Indianapolis

After qualifying 12th in GTD, Ashton Harrison's race pace at Indianapolis was particularly impressive as she climbed as high as seventh in the opening stages. Misfortune then struck as contact with a prototype on lap 25 led to Harrison retiring the Racers Edge Motorsports Acura.

Katherine Legge, Sheena Monk, Gradient Racing, IMSA, Indianapolis
Photo credits: Jake Galstad / Acura

Ashton Harrison’s strong run in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship at Indianapolis was cut short by contact, leading to an unfortunate retirement for the #93 Acura NSX. After qualifying 12th in GTD, Ashton’s race pace was particularly impressive as she climbed as high as seventh in the opening stages. Misfortune then struck as contact with a prototype on lap 25 led to Harrison retiring the Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX prior to teammate Kyle Marcelli’s stint.

Commenting on the premature end to the race, Ashton said “Unfortunately, our day is done early. I was being passed by a LMP2 car and I was going to my normal brake zone because he was far enough ahead. I am not sure what happened in the scenario other than I was on my brake and then we checked up a lot. I was on my brake hard attempting to avoid him."

"I tried to miss him and then when he finally came off his brake, he turned, and we made contact. I do not want to speculate other than to say, for my part, I did what I normally would have done the 15 laps earlier. Unfortunately, this lap ended differently. I am really bummed for Racers Edge Motorsports guys and everyone at Harrison Contracting Company and WTR Andretti because we had a really strong Acura”.

Indianapolis held fond memories for Ashton heading into the weekend, with Harrison having previously taken a victory at the legendary circuit, while also securing the GT World Challenge America championship at the same venue. Teaming up with Kyle Marcelli, lap times were incredibly close in the opening practice session on Friday, with the duo piloting the Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX to 11th in GTD, just six tenths of a second away from the quickest time.

Practice two saw Ashton make further gains and although the team ended the session 15th in GTD, Harrison found one second of lap time improvement from the opening session.

Looking to give the Racers Edge Motorsports team a strong starting position, Ashton took charge of the #93 Acura NSX for qualifying. Her impressive past performances at Indianapolis gave cause for optimism and although setting the 12th fastest time, her quickest lap was just half a second away from the top-5 in GTD.

Lining up 11th following a penalty for a competitor ahead, Ashton made a great start and moved inside the top-10 at the end of the first lap. After a short full course yellow period, Harrison was on the move again, passing the BMW of Patrick Gallagher for ninth before a drive through penalty for the Lamborghini of Misha Goikhberg elevated the Racers Edge Motorsports Acura NSX to eighth.

Ashton’s pace was extremely strong with her lap times matching those of the leading drivers as she chased down the AO Racing Porsche of PJ Hyett. Harrison’s position was further improved on lap 24 with a further penalty in the GTD class, this time for race leader Mikael Grenier. Running seventh, a top-5 position was within reach as Ashton’s impressive form at Indianapolis continued until contact with a prototype at turn 1 caused significant damage to the Acura NSX with the team forced to retire the car.

Despite not getting the opportunity to drive in the race, Kyle took the positives from the weekend, “A difficult end to an optimistic start at today’s two hour and 40-minute race at Indianapolis. So far this weekend, we have been pretty happy with the Acura NSX. We haven’t done a hero run in any of the practices. We have been pretty conservative with our tire strategy. But we felt really good on used tires for the long pace run and that is what we knew going into the race. At the start of the stint, Ashton did a fantastic job. As far as looking towards Petit in a few weeks, we will bring the consistency of the core group and the car, some knowledge on the Michelin tire from this weekend and we will pick up where we left off at Petit.”

Although it was a disappointing end for Ashton, she once again displayed excellent speed at Indianapolis and had smartly made her way through the field up to that point. This was arguably one of Harrison’s best showings of the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship season and she should be encouraged by both her qualifying and race pace.

The Racers Edge Motorsports team will be looking to bounce back at Motul Petit Le Mans with the season finale taking place on the weekend of October 13th/14th.

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