Fidani, Bell advance nine spots to finish season-best sixth in wild GTD battle

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 20, 2024) – AWA’s Orey Fidani and Matt Bell continued their upward momentum in the new Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT3.R with their best finish of the season – a sixth-place GT Daytona (GTD) finish Saturday in the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The pairing advanced from 15th in class at the start of the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to knocking on the door of a top-five finish in a frantic and fraught 100-minute race around the Long Beach Street Circuit – the team’s first trip to the historic California circuit.

The gain of nine positions put a bow on a strong weekend for the AWA duo with Bell setting the fastest GTD time in Friday’s opening practice – the first for the first-year AWA and Corvette partnership.

Fidani began Saturday 15th in class and drove the first 40 minutes for his first career action at Long Beach. He gained a position at the start and two more by the race’s first full-course yellow with just 12 minutes running. Despite falling back a couple of spots, Fidani’s laptimes continued to drop once the race went green again.

The Corvette picked up another spot on the restart, and Fidani made AWA’s first pit stop just shy of the 40-minute mark. Bell rejoined in 14th and was immediately in the thick of a fight. He was hit from behind on his out-lap but managed to carry on and advance to 11th only a couple of laps later.

Heads-up driving by Bell got the AWA Corvette firmly into the top-10 as the final turn on the Long Beach circuit was blocked by traffic and stalled cars. He came to a stop momentarily but drove through the chaos and into ninth place. Bell picked up three more spots to sixth before the race’s third and final full-course yellow with 15 minutes remaining bunched up the GTD field.

The lead pack of six cars were single-file during the final eight minutes with the Corvette on the tail of the top-five. Bell and the Z06 GT3.R made solid gains through the corners and twisty parts of the circuit, which is notoriously difficult to make a pass. Nevertheless, the end result of sixth adds to the momentum heading into the team’s next race.

AWA and the Corvette Z06 GT3.R program – including the two GTD PRO entries from Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports – will compete next in the Motul Course de Monterey from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, May 12.

OREY FIDANI, NO. 13 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “The race went really well based from where we started. The car was mega and easy to drive. We got up to sixth, and we’ll take that. I’m really happy with the finish from where we started from.”

MATT BELL, NO. 13 CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 GT3.R: “I’m really happy with that result. Our first effort at Long Beach as a team and pulling a top-six out of the bag is pretty strong. It was a great effort by the team. We executed the pit stop really well and jumped some cars. Unfortunately on cold tires on the out-lap, I gave a couple of those up. There was some rough racing from competitors but fair in the end, and I managed to get them back later on. The Corvette was absolutely glued to the track. I think we were the best car around the corners. We were lacking just a little bit of straight-line speed to challenge those top-five guys. But I’m really proud of the effort this week. It’s definitely our cleanest and best week in the AWA Corvette era. A big thanks to the team, big thanks to Corvette, General Motors and Pratt Miller. We’ll keep rolling into Laguna Seca.”

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