Aston Martin to Start Racing Season this Weekend

The new Aston Martin Vantage GTE will make its long-awaited racing debut in the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) Super Season at the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps this weekend (3-5 May).

Aston Martin Racing Vantage
Photo: Nick Dungan / Drew Gibson Photography

The Aston Martin Vantage GTE is based on the critically-acclaimed Aston Martin Vantage road car, the most performance-oriented sports car to come from Aston Martin’s ‘Second Century Plan’. Powered by a 4.0-litre, V8 turbo-charged AMG engine developed and optimized by AMR, the Vantage GTE is the first all-new GT car Aston Martin has introduced to the FIA WEC GTE category in seven years.

Following an extensive 10-month testing and development programme that has covered 35,000km and 14 different circuits, the team is confident that it has a competitive and reliable car capable of repeating Aston Martin Racing’s 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours glory in June and contending for the overall Super Season GTE Pro title.

Aston Martin Racing also boasts a world-class driving line-up in 2018. The GTE Pro roster includes three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner, who is joined in the #95 car by 2016 FIA WEC GTE Pro champions Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen. Meanwhile, 2017 Le Mans winner Jonny Adam shares the #97 entry with DTM and Spa 24 Hours race-winner Maxime Martin (B) and Formula 1 test driver and Formula E racer Alex Lynn (GB).

The Vantage GTE replaces the highly-decorated normally-aspirated V8 Vantage GTE, an example of which will be campaigned by Aston Martin Racing’s reigning GTE Am champions Paul Dalla Lana (CDN), Mathias Lauda (A) and Pedro Lamy (POR) in this year.

The Super Season heralds a new era for the FIA WEC. The eight-race calendar spans 14 months and is book-ended by two 24 Hours of Le Mans – the first time in history that the legendary event has appeared twice in the same championship. The series will also return to Spa-Francorchamps in 2019, having raced at iconic venues such as Silverstone, Fuji, Shanghai and the famous US sportscar circuit Sebring in between.

Aston Martin Racing Technical Director Dan Sayers said:

I can’t wait to get started now. We have delivered our most extensive testing programme with the Vantage GTE, optimizing every aspect of the car and bringing it to a point where we are satisfied that it is competitive and reliable. With it being the first all-new AMR car in seven years, this has been a huge undertaking and a fantastic effort by the whole team. I’m very proud of the car’s reliability and performance out of the box, but there really hasn’t been any time yet to look forward to going racing with it, maybe there will be time to reflect after Spa!

Aston Martin Racing Team Principal Paul Howarth added:

All of the pre-season development and testing has been targeted at Aston Martin Racing’s performance and delivery across the 2018/19 super-season. Spa marks AMR’s first race with the new Vantage and the whole team is looking forward to completing the first FIA WEC race with our new model. Our revised driver line-up has also completed an intensive training programme over the winter period, including a week’s training camp in the south of France and intensive endurance tests, so they are prepared for the challenge ahead. We’ll also continue to compete with last year’s reigning AM champions in #98 V8 Vantage GTE – in its swansong season with the same driver line up. Spa equates to 9% of the overall points available in the championship and the whole team’s focus is on delivering the best race possible for AMR.

Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer David King said:

The outgoing Vantage has been competing on-track since 2006, and in the FIA WEC GTE class since its inception in 2012, so the racing debut of the new Vantage in Spa this weekend is a very significant moment for Aston Martin. Endurance racing defines the very character of our sports and GT cars – durability, performance and driveability – and they remain the best-looking cars on the grid as always. The super-season is going to be longer and tougher than any previous season, but the team have executed the development plan and pre-season testing clinically to be as ready as we can be for the debut of an all-new car

Works driver quotes:

Marco Sørensen (DEN), #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:

I am really excited to get this season started. The whole winter of testing with the new car has now come to an end and we can finally get to that first race weekend. My expectations going in to Spa are very high. I know the car is good enough to win races and I genuinely feel that we have the best driver line-up in the paddock. Of course, we need to learn a lot from Spa as Le Mans is so soon after, but we are already in a good position. Aston Martin has changed a lot since I joined in 2015. Our professionalism has grown along with our experience and I’m super proud to be a part of that. For every driver, it’s very special to work closely with a manufacturer, but my focus this year is to get the results we deserve with the new Vantage GTE.

Nicki Thiim (DEN), #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:

Spa… finally, finally, finally! It has been a long and busy winter. This is the first time as an Aston Martin factory driver that I have had such a busy winter; there has been so much exciting stuff going on with the new Vantage GTE car. We have done a lot of mileage and I think we are well prepared. There is a lot that is new about the car, including turbos (!), so it’s an exciting time for not just the drivers, but also the engineers and the mechanics. As a driver I can’t wait to go to Spa. I’m interested to see where we are compared to the competition when everyone is driving on the same fuel load and the same tyres at the same time. It’s going to be so nice to get out and race. Being a factory racing driver is a real privilege, it’s such a small club, so you must appreciate your position and not take it for granted, but right now Aston Martin is very exciting and a cool place to be. It’s something very special to be part of a new car development programme. Whatever I do in my career, this will always be something special to look back on when I am old and retired!

Darren Turner (GB), #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:

Since testing of the new Vantage GTE began in August last year everyone in the team has been looking forward to this moment. We have completed many miles in testing and already feel confident with the performance of the new car. I’m so excited about Spa where we finally get the chance to go up against the competition. From everything we have seen, we have a very good car. It feels good behind the wheel and that is always a strong sign that you have a great race car. The hardest thing when you have a new car is knowing where you stack up against the competition. A podium with the car first time out would be incredible and we go there believing that is possible. It’s always massively exciting when you have a new car. We had some incredible high points with the old V8 Vantage GTE last year, but right now I’ve never felt such a buzz within Aston Martin Racing and I cannot wait to get to Le Mans this year to see how well the new Vantage GTE performs.

Jonny Adam (GB), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:

I’m very much looking forward to getting the 2018 FIA WEC Super Season underway and driving the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE on its debut race. A lot of hard work has gone in to it up to this point and everyone at AMR is looking forward to Spa. Expectations are to get a solid haul of points and see where we are in comparison to our competition. The car has been running well in testing and we’d like to carry that over into our first race weekend of 2018. Of course, the race we all look forward to is the Le Mans 24 Hours. The success of 2017 will always be remembered, but I think we as a team are excited to return to this amazing race and hopefully fight for a strong result with our new GTE car.

Alex Lynn (GB), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:

I’m very excited indeed to be making my Aston Martin debut with the new Vantage GTE. There has been a lot of preparation up until this point from everyone at AMR and now we are very ready to see what our new creation can do. I think we can certainly expect a lot, and my expectations are high. We have put very good mileage on the car and it performed brilliantly, so we would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t expect to be fighting for the win at Spa-Francorchamps. I guess there has never been a better time to join Aston Martin Racing as a factory driver! I guess I am biased, but there is a real buzz within the team and I can’t wait to get to Spa now, but if I am honest, Le Mans and Silverstone are the races I am looking forward to the most.

Maxime Martin (B), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:

I am really looking forward to starting a new chapter in my career with the new Vantage GTE. This is definitely a big point in the season and an exciting moment for Aston Martin Racing. Spa is always a great event, but of course I think the most exciting point over the year will be racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours, which is going to be quite a challenging race with all the competitors in the GTE class now. I think it is the most competitive and exciting GT class in the world. I think we have everything at Aston Martin Racing to make it an even bigger success than with the other car. I’m so excited to finally be racing in the FIA WEC Super Season with the Vantage GTE.

Note: Press release courtesy of Aston Martin.

 

Staff

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