Aston Martin Racing came away from the 84th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours leading the FIA World Endurance Championship GT Manufacturer’s title.
After running a near-faultless race, both the #95 and #97 GTE Pro entries finished in fifth and sixth place respectively. With the team focused on ensuring a safe and steady pace throughout the early stages of the race and throughout the night, each of the entries were tasked to make progress at dawn.
The #95 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE, driven by Nicki Thiim (DN), Marco Sørensen (DN) and Darren Turner (GB) finished fifth, having given a spirited fight to its rivals and stayed in podium contention through the night. However, the cruel nature of Le Mans struck as Turner suffered a right rear puncture in the 20th hour, caused by debris on track.
Turner said following the race: “That’s probably been one of the most straightforward races for the team. The car’s run like complete clockwork all the way through. The only drama we had was a late puncture. The guys have done a great job with the strategy and the mechanics have been amazing in the pitstops. I’m just very proud that both GTE Pro cars have made it to the finish.”
He added: “As you can see from qualifying and the earlier part of the week, there was certainly a gap in performance between ourselves and the turbocharged entries and this still showed through in the race. It’s a real shame as the crowd were robbed of a wheel-to-wheel race with all of the cars involved rather than just two.”
The #97 GTE Pro entry, driven by Richie Stanaway (NZ), Fernando Rees (BR) and Jonny Adam (GB), executed the strategy to perfection to finish sixth.
The result brings vital points in the crucial title fight and provides Aston Martin Racing a nine point lead in the FIA WEC Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers.
Aston Martin Racing also starred in GTE Am with the #98 V8 Vantage GTE of Paul Dalla Lana (CN), Mathias Lauda (A) and Pedro Lamy (P) leading into the night before eventually retiring with a mechanical failure heartbreakingly close to the finish.
“We’re delighted with the result this weekend and to be able to walk away leading the GT Manufacturer’s Championship has met our objectives for the weekend,” commented Paul Howarth, Team Principal, Aston Martin Racing.
He added: “Le Mans has offered us all of the challenges we expected. We knew when we came here that we’d be facing some very strong opposition and we knew what we had to do to resolve this. We continue from here to fight for wins and the outright title. It’s a real shame for our #98 Am entry, but I’m confident the guys will bounce back.”
Aston Martin Racing’s customer team Beechdean AMR driven by Andrew Howard (GB), Gary Hirsch (CH) and Liam Griffin (GB) made a great account of themselves too, finishing seventh in the GTE Am class on their first attempt at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Howarth added: “I’d like to congratulate the Beechdean AMR team and their drivers on bringing the car home at their first attempt. It’s a fantastic result and I’m really pleased for them.”
David King, Head of Global Motorsports, Aston Martin said: “Everyone at Aston Martin Racing has done a great job to score the most points that were realistically possible given the Balance of Performance handed to the team. Nevertheless, to lead the championship after Le Mans gives us a great position and something to continue to fight for as we head towards the Nürburgring and then on to the flyaway races.”
Aston Martin Racing will be in action at the FIA World Endurance Championship’s third round; the Six Hours of Nürburgring on Sunday 24 July.