Aston's all-out racing centenary
PERFECT WAY TO CELEBRATE A BIRTHDAY: Aston Martin has set its sights on two prestigious motorsport titles in 2013, Le Mans and the WEC, as part of a its centenary celebrations. Above shows its Vantage GTE.
LONDON, England - Aston Martin Racing has unveiled its most ambitious motorsport programme yet - winning both the the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance championship.
The British automaker is celebrating its 2013 centenary year. Underlining its return to GT racing in 2012 and its commitment to the WEC, the team has confirmed a four-car entry into the series - two Vantage GTEs based on the standard Vantage coupe in both the Pro and Am classes.
Entry into the series means each of four V8 Vantage GTE units will compete at Le Mans, the third round of the WEC, on over June 22/23.
The Le Mans race will be the team's largest entry into the event. The GTE Pro entries, 97 and 99, will be heavily upgraded. Dan Sayers, chief engineer at Aston Martin Racing, said: “When redeveloping the race-winning 2012 Vantage GTE for the 2013 season the design team focused on increasing the drivability of the car and optimising the performance.”
The new Gulf-liveried 97 machine will once again be driven by Darren Turner, who's celebrating his ninth season with the team.
Stefan Mucke, who joined the team in 2008, will partner Turner once again with the aim of winning the GTE Pro championship.
Aston Martin has enlisted Peter Dumbreck for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and for the second round of the WEC, the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Dumbreck will return to GT racing after competing in the 2012 WEC LMP1 category.
The second GTE Pro car, the 99 Vantage GTE, will bring some new faces to AMR. Formula 1 driver Bruno Senna and Frederic Makowiecki will contest the WEC joined by Rob Bell for Le Mans and the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The team's 95 car is a new Vantage GTE built to 2012 specification in accordance with the WEC GTE Am regulations.
The Vantage GTE, which won the 2012 Six Hours of Shanghai, will be driven by three Danes - Allan Simonsen, Christoffer Nygard and Kristian Poulsen. They're no strangers to AMR - they entered Le Mans in 2012.
CENTENARY YEAR CELEBRATION
The final car in the four-strong line-up – 96, a new car identical to 95 – will run in the GTE Am category and see Roald Goethe and Stuart Hall team up once again. The pair were a formidable force for Aston Martin Racing at the 2012 Six Hours of Silverstone and will be joined by FIA GT championship-winning driver Jamie Campbell-Walter.
In addition to the WEC programme, Turner, Mücke and Senna will contest the first round of the American Le Mans Series, the 12 Hours of Sebring, on March 16 in a 2013 Vantage GTE.
David Richards, chairman of Aston Martin, commented: “There is a real sense of anticipation in the Aston Martin Racing team and a belief that it is once again our time to return to the top step of the podium at Le Mans. It would be fitting for Aston Martin, which has such a rich heritage in motorsport and particularly at Le Mans, to cap its centenary year.”
John Gaw, managing director and team principal at Aston Martin Racing, added: “In 2012 we proved how fast and reliable the car was. Our two GTE Am entries will pick up where the Pro car finished with victory in Shanghai.
“Overall, around 30% of all components on the 2013-specification Pro cars are new, which makes for a significant improvement. We looked at specific areas where we could take weight out of the car and redistribute it to a better location. We have also revised the suspension, which has not only improved the handling but, when combined with the new fly-by-wire throttle allowed under this year’s regulations, makes the car easier to drive."
Aston Martin Racing’s 2013 season will start with the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida on March 16; the 2013 WEC will start on April 14 at the Six Hours of Silverstone.