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Hannah Grisham & Rianna O'Meara Hunt sweep GT4 America finale

After stellar drives at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Heart of Racing's Hannah Grisham and Rianna O'Meara Hunt claimed back-to-back class victories to sweep the final round of the Pirelli GT4 America championship.

Hannah Grisham & Rianna O'Meara Hunt, The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Pirelli GT4 America, 2023 Indianapolis
Photo credits: SRO Motorsport Group

Hannah Grisham and Rianna O'Meara-Hunt swept the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, claiming a class pole position and two race victories in the AM class at the final round of the 2023 GT4 America by Pirelli championship.

The Heart of Racing duo therefore secured their first ever win in the series following a stellar weekend at the Racing Capital of the World, in a breakthrough round for the all-female team.

Grisham, 22, and O'Meara-Hunt, 21, were selected via a driver shootout earlier this year and contested their first season in GT4 America sharing the wheel of the #26 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for the team that will run the factory Aston Martin sports car program in both IMSA and WEC in 2024.

While often showing great speed, the two drivers struggled to capitalize in the first part of the season, as unfortunate circumstances prevented them from fully showcasing their talent and potential. A few retirements for either contacts or technical issues hampered their season, albeit they claimed three top-5 finishes in the Am class as well as top-20s overall.

Coming into the final round at Indianapolis, though, the Heart of Racing all-female squad soon proved to belong to the top-end of the highly-competitive 32-car field, as they would ran in the top three in class and close to the top ten overall in practice despite neither of them had ever raced at Indianapolis before.

With Grisham behind the wheel, the #26 Aston Martin would secure pole position in Q1, as the Shift Up Now athlete set a 1:31.515 that put her fifth overall and by far on top of the Am classification.

While it was Grisham's second class pole position of the season, the duo enjoyed their best combined qualifying positions after her teammate Rianna O'Meara Hunt had an equally strong run in Q2: the New Zealander would line up third among the Am class and 20th overall in Sunday's race.

Hannah Grisham & Rianna O'Meara Hunt, The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Pirelli GT4 America, 2023 Indianapolis
Photo credits: Brian Cleary / SRO

Grisham - who was behind the wheel for the first stint of Friday's race 1 - took a cautious approach at the start and, while she dropped to eighth overall, she retained the class lead, with the closest class contender in 15th place. A multi-car contact at turn 1 and 2 did not result in a caution and Grisham could start her charge up the field: she was soon putting pressure on the ACI Motorsports Porsche of Selldorff, fifth in the silver class.

The action, though, was then neutralized for Walker's stranded BMW in the run off of turn 2.

The race resumed with 47 minutes to go and Grisham held position - also defending from the sister car of Gray Newell, third in ProAm. Geraci's #72 Toyota Supra had moved into second in AM and, despite having made up a few places, Grisham remained a few tenths of a second per lap faster, as she chipped away in the class lead.

Hannah consistently ran within a few tenths of a second of her best lap and, while she continued to search for a gap to pass Selldorf, the advantage to Geraci grew to 7 seconds when the pit window opened. Grisham stayed out and grabbed the overall lead on lap 16, over 15 seconds ahead of the closest pursuer once the overall leaders pitted.

Rianna O'Meara-Hunt took over on lap 17 and, having rejoined in P11 overall, she kept the top spot in class after STR38's Chris Allen had completed his pit stop, rejoining 16th overall.

Rianna gained a position overall and improved her lap times lap after lap, retaining a healthy margin to Allen's BMW.

With around 18 minutes to go, O'Meara Hunt started to lose ground as she was caught by some ProAm entries. With 10 minutes to go, Chris Allen was four seconds behind and he kept closing the gap: Rianna made her way back into the overall top 10, but now had to defend from her rivals closing in - as she also managed the ProAm traffic.

After one hour of incredibly close racing, Rianna O'Meara Hunt crossed the finish line claiming a first historic victory in GT4 America for the all-female team: by topping the AM class, the #26 Heart Of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 also finished in ninth overall, securing a season's best for Grisham and O'Meara-Hunt.

Hannah Grisham & Rianna O'Meara Hunt, The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Pirelli GT4 America, 2023 Indianapolis
Photo credits: SRO Motorsport Group

Third in class was another strong starting position for O'Meara Hunt, who would take on the opening stint on Sunday following her best qualifying of the season.

Under grey skies at IMS, the final race of the Pirelli GT4 America season got underway after a waved-off start, with Michael Cooper leading Roman de Angelis' Heart of Racing Aston Martin: the latter completed a stunning move around the outside of turn 1 and snatched the overall lead, before the safety car was deployed on lap 2 for an accident at turn 1.

From 20th overall, Rianna had dropped to eighth in class over the first lap; Terry Borcheller's Toyota Supra held the AM class lead with sixth overall, followed by Jaden Lander and James Clay - separated by over 10 ProAm and Silver entries in between. When the race resumed on lap 5, Cooper had to defend from Parker Thompson - who led the Silver class - and the two made contact.

O'Meara Hunt picked up a few positions overall amidst the incident-filled first laps; the Kiwi continued to follow Juan Pablo Martinez (#83 NOLASPORT Porsche) but slightly lost ground 20 minutes into her stint. Nevertheless, Rianna set her most competitive laps and, with a solid run, she capitalized on a few of her competitors' issues and climbed back to P20, seventh in class, as the pit window opened.

Rianna pitted midway through the race and Hannah Grisham climbed aboard the #26 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 from eighth in class. Once everyone had completed the driver change, Grisham had moved up to sixth - and was among the fastest in class.

Hannah Grisham & Rianna O'Meara Hunt, The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Pirelli GT4 America, 2023 Indianapolis
Photo credits: SRO Motorsport Group

The Shift Up Now driver caught Rovert Mau (STR38 BMW) and passed him on lap 22, as she continued the charge up the field; she cleared the ProAm entry of Colin Harrison and annihilated the gap to Roland Kraitz to clinch fourth on lap 24. Grisham now had a three second gap to close to potentially battle for the podium: Hannah did that in barely a couple of laps and overtook Calle, immediately chasing Charlie Postins, 3 seconds further up the road.

Grisham set her fastest lap of the race and, one and a half second faster, she completed the pass with 10 minutes to go. Just when AM class leader Nicholas Shanny (Carrus Callas Raceteam Toyota Supra GT4) seemed too far ahead, Grisham was over three seconds per lap faster and, with Shanny struggling for pace, she fired into the lead on the penultimate lap of the race.

After an outstanding drive, Hannah Grisham and Rianna O'Meara Hunt took a second win of the weekend, sweeping the season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"What a weekend to walk away with two wins", Grisham commented, after an unreal drive in the final stint. "We came into this weekend without a podium after experiencing our fair share of bad luck this year."

"To win on Friday and then be able to back it up with another win on Sunday at Indy was surreal. So proud to be a part of this team!"

The perfect weekend at the Brickyard highlighted the potential of this driver pairing, who overcame adversities and will be looking to build upon these successes to further climb the ranks in sports car racing in the coming season.

Hannah Grisham & Rianna O'Meara Hunt, The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, Pirelli GT4 America, 2023 Indianapolis
Photo credits: Brian Cleary / SRO



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