Interview: Roman De Angelis is thirsty for victories and an IMSA title!
Monday, March 21, 2022 by Eliane Gilain
Canada is fairly well represented this season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Whether drivers, crew, support staff or teams, it is not uncommon to come across a Canadian in the paddocks of the main North American Endurance series. Ontario’s Roman De Angelis is one of those representatives, as the young driver, former Canadian Porsche Cup champion, began his first full season in the GTD class at the 24 Hours of Daytona last January.
Pole-Position spoke to him at the 12 Hours of Sebring last weekend, where he was again driving one of two Aston Martin Vantage GT3s from The Heart of Racing team, along with American Ian James and Englishman Todd Gamble. A race that did not go as planned for the Ontarian, but which did not in any way affect his hopes of returning to victory, as in 2021, later in the season, or even of seeking the title in class. GTD.
Roman, before talking about Sebring and the rest of the season, can you come back to the 24 Hours of Daytona event. How did the season start for you?
We had a fast car at Daytona. However, we had a broken suspension during the qualifying session for the qualifying race, during the Roar. We therefore started the qualifying race in last position. Then during this event, we were taken off the track by an opponent. So we took the start of the 24 Hours of Daytona once again at the back of the field. During the night, we moved up to 2nd or 3rd place in the GTDs, before encountering engine problems. We therefore had to stop in the pits for repairs, which obviously caused us to lose several laps. However, we managed to get back up, but we had another problem at daybreak. That sums up my last 24 Hours of Daytona.
The 12 Hours of Sebring was also complicated for your team, your car finishing in 15th position GTD. What happened ?
It is true that our start to the season is difficult and especially last weekend’s race at Sebring. We struggled a bit with the car at the start of the weekend, but we were confident that with consistent pace we could aim for a Top 5. Unfortunately, both our team cars, mine and the one entered in GTD Pro, had mechanical issues that prevented us from getting on the podium as hoped, or even finishing in the Top 10. The next two events in California should be more favorable for us, especially the one in Laguna Seca where I qualified in 3rd position last year.
What is your goal this season with the Heart of Racing team?
Last year we won the Sprint championship and we came close to winning the overall championship. So my goal is to win the GTD class championship. It’s still possible despite our worries at Daytona and Sebring.
How do you see the rest of the season, when you are confirmed within the team for all the races?
Last year I started, so I was very shy, I was not aggressive enough. I was thinking too much about the championship and not enough about winning, so I was letting cars pass, something I shouldn’t have done. I worked on that at Daytona, and I’m still improving. The teams that win championships in this series are aggressive and think of two things: the title, but also the victories. I won’t do anything stupid by sacrificing the car, but last year I missed opportunities on the track that I should have taken. I have to be faster and smarter, but I’m still young, I have time to work on that.
What is your relationship with Aston Martin?
I did their academy for the last two seasons, and I won the 2021 edition. However, I am not a factory driver, but Aston Martin helps me as they can. That is to say, they keep an eye open to place me in teams that need a driver with a silver license and who is fast. They also keep an eye on me and my progress.
Beyond this season, what is your long-term goal?
I really like this IMSA championship! The events, the fans and the competition are very nice. The Heart of Racing team is great and I love being in that group. So my goal is to stay here as long as I can, although I’m not ruling out any opportunities that may arise to race in Europe and Asia.