GT4 America: class pole position goes unrewarded for Hannah Grisham & Rianna O'Meara-Hunt
After a spectacular effort in Q1, Hannah Grisham claimed class pole position and fourth overall at Road America - but a series of unfortunate accidents then marred the weekend of the all-female team in GT4 America, preventing them from fully showcasing their potential.
Pirelli GT4 America's all female crew endured a tough weekend at Road America after class pole position went unrewarded following a double DNF in the fifth round of the championship.
The Heart of Racing's duo composed of Hannah Grisham and Rianna O'Meara-Hunt were poised for a strong weekend after showing great pace in practice and qualifying, but
two accidents ruled them out of the weekend, in what was a very unfortunate series of events that prevented them from showcasing their true potential.
Having been selected via a driver shootout, Hannah Grisham, 22, and Rianna O'Meara-Hunt, 21, became the team's first all-female duo, both stepping up to GT4 machinery in an Am entry. Their season so far has been marred by bad luck, but the two drivers always showed glimpses of their talent with great speed, good recoveries and strong qualifications.
That was the case at Road America, where they improved by over a second from FP1 and FP2, and then were the protagonists of a spectacular first qualifying session.
Hannah Grisham took the helm of the #26 Aston Martin in Q1 and set a 2:15.709 that was enough for fourth overall, eight seconds clear of the closest Am class competitor.
Among a strong field of 34 entries, Grisham's lap was a stunning effort that put the all-female duo on class pole position, thousandths adrift from the very top Silver class teams.
An unfortunate crash in the second qualifying session, though, was a first hurdle for the team, which had to switch to a new chassis for the first race of the weekend later in the day.
A brilliant work by The Heart of Racing's mechanics still allowed Grisham to take the start of race 1, albeit from the back of the grid. Having lost pole position due to the car change, Hannah and Rianna would have a big task ahead.
At lights out, Grisham soon moved up to P29 with a strong start, then proceeded to gain more positions over the course of the first lap, slotting into P24. The Shift Up Now athlete was on a charge but the race was neutralized on lap 2 when Selldorf found the wall.
At the restart, Grisham resumed her progression and made up places both in the Am class as well as overall; with a very good pace, she hunted down Nelson Calle's #83 Nolasport Porsche for P20 at the 30 minute mark.
As the pit window opened, Grisham stayed out and climbed the order when Am and ProAm entries pitted; John Geesbreght went off at the kink - bringing out the safety car right in the middle of the pit window. Having run as high as sixth overall, Grisham pitted just before the caution was deployed, handing over to Rianna O'Meara-Hunt, who rejoined in P18 overall and sixth in the Am class after the round of pit stops.
O'Meara-Hunt found herself in a big group of battling cars for class position and, unfortunately, she would hit the wall on lap 14 after an accident with Cedric Sbirrazzuoli (Conquest Racing Mercedes) that brought out another safety car.
The race ended behind the safety car, with the #34 Conquest Racing Mercedes taking victory after a great restart from the previous caution. Jesse Webb and Michai Stephens preceded the #92 Random Vandals BMW M4 and the Auto Technic Racing BMW.
Unfortunately, the damage sustained in the first race meant that the #26 Aston Martin of Hannah Grisham and Rianna O'Meara-Hunt was withdrawn from the remainder of the weekend. While heavy accidents marked the all-female duo's weekend at Road America, Hannah and Rianna will come home with some important positives: the pole position in class on Saturday morning was certainly proof of their potential, in a highly competitive category that features some of the best teams and drivers in North America.
Grisham and O'Meara Hunt will return behind the wheel of the Heart of Racing's Aston for the penultimate round of the season, at Sebring International Raceway on September 22–24.