Testing continues apace

Testing continues apace

This week has seen a significant increase in the number of Aston Martin Racing customer teams test (mainly across Europe at the moment) as these teams start to receive their orders for new generation GT3 and GT4 cars from the Prodrive factory.

Blancpain GT Series runnings R-Motorsport and Garage 59 were at the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France earlier this week for the series balance of performance test ahead of their season that starts in Monza in just under a months time. Both teams had a number of absent faces from the test due to driver commitments elsewhere.

New AMR team - Garage 59 were there with their two new V8 Vantage GT3's and had to get the driving assistance of AMR reserve driver Ross Gunn to help as the team evaluate line ups to race alongside the likes of Chris Goodwin and Alex West. These cars tested again in the factory produced white base layer although the team have confirmed that liveries and line ups are due imminently. The R-Motorsport cars looked sublime in their china grey and blue detail.

For British GT runners Academy Motorsport and Optimum Motorsport, their drivers Will Moore and Patrick Mathiessen respectively tested their new Vantage GT4's for the first time this week at both Snetterton and Oulton Park ahead of their season that start in under four weeks time.

From a rather cold and wet looking Zolder racetrack, Belgium team Street Art Racing took one of their new Vantage GT4's out for its first test ready for their two car entry into the this years GT4 European Series.

Like many teams around Europe, they are having to make do with just one car at the moment for their full GT4 driver line up.

Their series rivals, German based PROsport Performance also tested the V8 Vantage GT4 for the first time (albeit the factory development car) at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain (above) as their prepare for their  two GT4 car entry into multi European series whilst the photo below shows another GT4 due for imminent delivery t its new owner after another Ross Gunn shakedown test this week.

Over in Japan, one of the latest teams to convert to the AMR platform for 2019 sees D'Station AMR undertake their first Official Super GT test at the Okayama International Circuit with their new Vantage GT3.

Having already undertaken some tyre testing with their car ready for the highly competitive GT300 campaign, drivers JP Oliveira and Tomonobu Fujii have the driving services of Darren Turner to look forward to.

Its all getting rather busy!!

Photo credits - Customer teams / social media

Saturday, March 16, 2019 |
All Aston Martin Racing runners feel the pain of Sebring

All Aston Martin Racing runners feel the pain of Sebring

We predicted an epic battle within the two GTE classes of the World Endurance Championship as its first race of 2019 kicked off yesterday around the iconic but thoroughly demanding Sebring Raceway in Florida.

Not having raced together for over four months, the eight hours or 1000miles of Sebring was always going to offer both the teams and the fans something different on their American leg of this transitional Super-Season beyond what the Champions previous race venue in Texas could ever offer - and we certainly weren't disappointed by the spectacle of what was to be produced on track.

Problems in Qualifying left both factory entered GTE Pro cars at the back of their class with the #97 of Maxime Martin and Lynn suffering technical issues that would see them having to take the start from behind most of the GTE Am cars down in P31. The sister #95 car of Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim and the returning third driver placement of Darren Turner fared slightly better in P23 to be just ahead of the GTE Am cars such is the closeness of racing these days between the two classes. The two AMR GTE-Am cars of Paul Dalla-Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy (#98) would start from P26 and directly ahead of the #90 TF Sport entry of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam in P28 but over two hundred laps waited ahead of the thirty one car grid and anything was about to happen - even a NASA rocket launch to boot!!

High track temperatures at the start of the race would mean that cars needed to manage their tyre stock around the bumpy concrete/tarmac constructed track of the former wartime military airbase with an early expectation of some rain thrown in just to confuse! Both GTE Pro cars with Lynn and Thiim at the wheels soon set about counting off the cars ahead to be running line astern to one another by the end of the first hour and whilst a charging Lauda in the #98 soon took the Am class lead from the Project 1 Porsche. Cycling through the early pit stops Thiim found himself leading the Pro class at one point before cars levelled back out for them to be running 8th and 9th in class as each marque took their turn at the front.

Both AMR and TF Sport elected to run their Gentleman drivers for longer periods in the dry and light of the afternoon but the abilities of both Dalla Lana and Yoluc were no match for aspiring young drivers in the Porsche development programme who appeared to be running away with things in the opening stages.

Rain was being predicted to hit parts of the circuit by about the two hour mark but attentions soon turned to a more fluid race strategy approach as an LMP1 car crashed out into the tyre wall at T1 to bring about the first Full Course Yellow of the race and when that progressed to a Safety Car prior to the restart, at least all early track advantages from those cars ahead of the four AMR's in each class were annulled.

Soon after the race went back to green the two Pro cars had elevated themselves up to P5 and P6 in class whilst the #98 had dropped to P4 but the #90 had stayed constant at P6. Things were looking certainly steady if not promising at this stage.

With the GTE Am Class Championship leader Porsche of Project 1 suffering a car destroying fire in last weekends private test, it was important for both the #98 and #90 cars to run well in Sebring in order to mitigate the differences in points between them to the Porsche and when the #56 Porsche was spun into the tyre wall at T1 by the chasing Spirit of Race Ferrari, again all looked slightly better for the AMR cars but for the fact the #56 car would not lie down and give into adversity again - certainly not without another fight.

Incredibly, the #56 drove away without any obvious damage and a subsequent FCY for debris on track allowed them to recompose themselves, and as the Spirit of Race Ferrari served its drive through penalty for that contact that at least allowed the #98 to return to the top of the Am class!

As the race approached its half way point and the ambient light was really starting to fall, the situation of track for the Aston Martin runners was looking quite good. The new iteration Vantage GTE has shown more than once that it could hold onto and then pass any of its rival entries as Thiim moved back up to P2 and Lynn up to P6 whilst in Am, Dalla Lana was heading that class and Eastwood and the TF Sport guys, who couldn't really get their V8 to match the performance of the #98 were at least consistent.

The trouble for our Aston Martin teams was that by the time the race clock passed the four hours complete and the day had turned into full night was where things started to go a little wrong for them - not necessarily at fault of their own but enough to upset what had been until then a reliable pendulum of performance.

In his first race back in the #95 Dane Train car since Le Mans last year, Turner looked to be enjoying himself back out on track in the WEC, building on the platforms that co drivers Sorensen and Thiim had handed over to him to be running in P3. With the #92 factory Porsche behind, their over exuberance to challenge Turner for position lead to heavy rear quarter contact going into T10 that spun Turner off the track but fortunately not into the barrier. Although initially fortunate to be able to drive away from the scene (having already lost three positions on track) further salt would be added to their wounds when repairs would be needed at their next planned stop which effectively dropped them out of contention. A Stop and Go penalty for the #92 seemed a weak punishment for an act that effectively ended the #95 AMR cars challenge.

The #97 car was then blighted by a door illumination panel issue that forced them to pit before Lauda suffered a puncture out on track that lead to debris winding itself around the driveshaft for their car loosing them time in the pits and sending them down to the last of the runners.

With the three factory supported cars now effectively out of contention, all still running at a decent pace but not consistently enough to make amends for their earlier woes, it was down to the TF Sport guys to produce the goods on track. AMR driver Jonny Adam didn't step into the #90 car until it was dark and at post stint interview the extent of his efforts within the car were obvious for all to see.

As the trackside fireworks lit up the circuit at a point in time when most WEC rounds would be coming to an end (at the six hour mark) there was still plenty of racing left to do. With the Gulf Porsche of Ben Barker is hot pursuit, the #90 car held its P4 position for lap after lap to the Porsches and Ferrari ahead until just half an hour remained.

Out of sight to the cameras, a rare mistake from Adam apparently saw his car spin off the circuit to hit something hard which in turn split the car's rear defuser. Battling on as he would, the teams hand was forced by Race Control instructing the car to pit with a black and orange flag for a new defuser and tyres (wets) with little more than 26 minutes remaining.

Also at this point came more rain - proper rain this time which saw all cars having to pit for wets as the concrete race track became an ice rink. Unfortunately for TF Sport, that didn't give them enough time for them to benefit from the heavily cut tyres over those who elected to stay out a few more laps just in case the rain stopped and it all later became irrelevant as an LMP2 car planted themselves into the tyre wall with just 12minutes remaining.

The race would finish behind the Safety Car.

For what started to be another 'challenging' weekend for the four AMR cars turned into something very entertaining and enthralling to watch as each car took their races to the opposition under wholly differing strategy calls. With no changes in BoP for anybody since Shanghai, that at least allowed all the GTE cars to race their own races to create the spectacle that is the WEC - unfortunately for us, prior accident and incident for our two GTE Pro and two GTE Am cars lost each of them time on track from which they could never recover with the #97 and #95 finishing P9 and P10 and the #90 and #98 finishing P6 and P8 all respectively in classes.

Worse for the Am class Championship was that the Project 1 Porsche phoenix again rose from the ashes of last week to finish P3 in class and, what with the additional points available for finishing at Sebring, extend their lead over the chasing pack with the two AMR cars also each losing a position in the table to the Spirit of Race Ferrari and with the points penalised Dempsey Proton Porsches back in hot pursuit just behind them - but we suppose that that is just motor racing!!

Next race is at Spa Francorchamps in May.

Photo credits - AMR / TF Sport

Saturday, March 16, 2019 |
Here's looking forward to todays Sebring 1000miles

Here's looking forward to todays Sebring 1000miles

In less than two hours from now the 2019 part of the World Endurance Championship's transitional 'Super-season' gets the green flag from the historic American race circuit in Sebring, Florida.

With most the teams having perched along the new secondary pit lane at the circuit for the last two weeks following a weekend of testing last week, this sixth round of of eight looks set to be a cracker in both GTE Pro and GTE Am with very little time separating the cars through four sessions of private testing last week, three Free Practice sessions on Wednesday and Thursday before Qualifying last night.

In the factory driven world of GTE Pro, most of the sessions have seen all eleven cars split by less than one second and that continued into Qualifying except for a technical issue that was suffered aboard the #97 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage car of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn and that saw them drop to the foot of the class for the start of the race. Their sister #95 car of Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim and a returning Darren Turner are just ahead of them on the grid but less than a second off the pole setting Porsche's time.

GTE Pro is setting itself up to be another cracking race where the elongated race length of up to eight hours around a unusually bumpy track (for the WEC calendar so far) as well as running into the night will of course generate its own issues for some.

For both Ford and Porsche have clearly found a 'box full' of pace from a bag somewhere from within the boot of their cars so their ultimate pace is not so clear.

In GTE Am, the performances of he #98 factory supported car of Paul Dalla-Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda have been strong all through the test and into Free Practice where they were either fastest in class or just thousandth of a second off the top step. An unfortunate issue with contact during FP3 saw their Qualifying physiologically affected at least (if not mechanically) enough for them to start the race from P3 (rather than an expected higher position) behind the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche on pole and a rejuvenated Project 1 Porsche in P2.

For TF Sport, this race is their first experience of the circuit and they have clearly used the opportunities available to them during last weeks testing and this events earlier Free Practice sessions to develop their set up and lap times during the day. Drivers Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and a returning Jonny Adam's lap times throughout the event have been consistent to say the least just 0.7 seconds off pole.

For these two AMR GTE Am car runners, their main rivals remain the Porsches with Championship leaders Project 1 looking to have found some instant pace despite having to ship a new chassis into the country after their original car was destroyed by fire at last weekends test.

This race should be really enjoyable to watch - race starts at 20:00Hrs GMT

Photo credits - AMR / TF Sport 

Friday, March 15, 2019 |
This weeks other news

This weeks other news

This weekend sees the start to the 2019 Australian GT Championship from Albert Park where the GT cars will again make up part of the supporting programme to the opening round of the FIA Formula One Championship around the park based road circuit.

Again running a four - twenty five minute race programme, we are led to believe that the Championship will this year figure sadly just a single Aston Martin Racing car - that being in the hands of former Australian GT owner Tony Quinn.

We won't be seeing back the 2018 GT4 Championship winner Jeremy Gray and his Bilstein liveried AMR Vantage GT4 in the Championship either as he has since moved onto other projects but we should at least be seeing another few more outings of Quinn's V12 Vantage GT3 in the championship before the expected arrival of his new turbo charged V8 Vantage GT3 later in the season.

Video clips posted by the championship definately showed a rear exhausted car under the Vantage GT3 cover in the paddock earlier this week.

The series shall feature one race per day between now and Sunday.

Back in United States, we don't only have the reconvening of the World Endurance Championship at Sebring but also the next round of the 2019 Michelin Pilot Challenge Series under the IMSA package that the WEC is supporting this weekend.

Florida Based Automatic Racing had an awesome opening round to the season last time out in support of the Daytona 24 event when the then #99 car of Kris Wilson and Gary Ferrera secured a ultra close P2 finish after a last gasp draught to the finishing line.

Also significant at the event was the acquisition by the team of the first new 2019 generation Aston Martin Racing V8 Turbo Vantage GT4 in time for the race. Whilst running under a temporary waiver from IMSA due to its then non homologated state we understand that AMR have indeed paid a pro-rota'd amount of this Manufacturer engagement fee to be able to run their car in the series.

Whilst the new Vantage ran at Daytona in its manufactured white base coat, it will be wearing its colourful Invisible Glass livery out in the sun at Sebring for round two this time bearing the racing number #99 with Rob Elkin Jnr and Rain Abdolvahabi again behind the wheel.

We may even hear news form the team confirming the order for a second 2019 generation Vantage GT4 as suggested back at Daytona!

Photo credits - IMSA / Automatic Racing / Australian GT

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 |
Back to business for the Aston Martin Racing runners after their winter break

Back to business for the Aston Martin Racing runners after their winter break

Aston Martin Racing begins its 2019 race programme with high hopes of maintaining a strong competitive streak in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as it embarks on a welcome return to the United States and the legendary Sebring Raceway for the inaugural running of the 1000 Miles of Sebring.

With the FIA WEC 2018/2019 Super Season spanning two years for the first time in its history, Aston Martin Racing headed into the ‘winter break’ having secured a maiden win in only the fifth competitive outing for the Aston Martin Vantage GTE in China back in November. Now, with just three races of the FIA WEC remaining at Sebring, Spa-Francorchamps and the Le Mans 24 Hours, the action begins again at the former WW2 airbase in Florida.

Uniquely, the eight-hour race will start at 1600 EST on Friday evening, and will run into the night. The new event sits on the same weekend bill as the famous 12 Hours of Sebring, run for US-based endurance machinery, and thus represents a fantastic extravaganza of sportscar action for fans around the world.

Hot off the back of their Chinese win, the Danish duo of Nicki Thiim and Marco S├Árensen are re-joined in the #95 Vantage GTE Pro car by three-time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner Darren Turner (GB), who last raced alongside the pair in the #95 car at Le Mans in June. Turner’s Sebring record is strong, having won there for Aston Martin Racing in 2005, and he’s looking forward to racing again at one of his favourite venues.

“It’s been a long time since Le Mans last year, and I can’t wait to be back in the WEC paddock, especially one based in Sebring” said Turner. “The team has been very focused over the winter to continue the momentum that has been building with the Vantage GTE. We know that we have a race-winner now and that has given everyone at AMR an extra amount of confidence.”

Turner is not the only Aston Martin Racing driver with a Sebring legacy of note, Alex Lynn (GB), who shares the #97 Vantage GTE Pro car with Maxime Martin (BEL), won the Sebring 12 Hours outright in 2017. “This place holds some very special memories,” said Lynn, “so coming back here with Aston Martin Racing is an important moment for me. I’ve driven the Vantage GTE at this track here before we had actually raced it and it performed well, so we carry high hopes.”

Aston Martin Racing Team Principal Paul Howarth added, “Now that we have proven the capabilities and performance of the Aston Martin Vantage GTE, with its maiden win last time out, our focus is on maintaining this level of competitiveness through to the end of the season. We know this will not be easy, and we are competing in a fiercely contested GT category with focussed and determined opposition. But we are now looking towards Le Mans, and it is important to make the most of this punishing long distance race at Sebring to hone our operational ability throughout the team, both on the track and behind the pit wall.”

The North American round of the FIA WEC has been kind to the Aston Martin Racing team over the years. Works Aston Martins have collected GTE Pro and Am double victories three times (in 2013, ’14 and ’16) at the Circuit of the Americas, and indeed the defending 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Am title-holders Paul Dalla Lana (C), Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda (A) head to Sebring on an American hat-trick. The #98 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE crew having also won the last time the series visited the United States in 2017. The trio currently lie second in the class standings, and a second victory of the season (the first was in the opener at Spa last May) would greatly help them close the 20-point gap to the top.

They’ll have their work cut out though, for the similar TF Sport car driven by Salih Yoluc (TUR), and Charlie Eastwood (GB) retains Aston Martin Racing factory driver and 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Jonny Adam (GB) this weekend as they build their own challenge for the title.

The 1000 Miles of Sebring begins at 16:00 local time on Friday, 15 March.

Source material and photo credits - AMR
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 |
PROsport Performance finalise GT4 European Series line up

PROsport Performance finalise GT4 European Series line up

In the midst of their first team testing period with an example of their soon to be delivered Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's, German based PROsport Performance have today confirmed their driver line up aboard their second entry into the SRO GT4 European Series.

Presently testing in Barcelona with the AMR factory development GT4 platform, the team confirmed that
24 year old Austrian David Griessner and 19 year old Frenchman Jeremy Sarhy will be joining Florian Thoma and Akhil Rabindra who were announce only last week.



Griessner steps across to the GT4 European Series having won the BMW M23i Racing Cup Class of the VLN series last year. Sarhy's racing experience meanwhile, has been restricted to the French national scene so the opening round of the season at Monza in about a months time will also be his 'international' debut.

With previous racing experience in the VLN from Griessner and Thoma we just hope that the team can find capacity to enter into (at least) selected events of the 2019 VLN Series having lost the sole full season entry of Avia Racing to another marque over the winter.

Photo credits - PROsport Performance

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 |
Looking forward to the resumption of the WEC from Sebring

Looking forward to the resumption of the WEC from Sebring

Over eight hundred laps were completed last weekend between the four Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE's of AMR and TF Sport at the World Endurance Championship's pre-event test from the Sebring Raceway ahead of this Friday's start of the sixth round of the Championship.

Unsurprisingly really and considering these team's parallel IMSA programmes, the test saw the likes of Ford and Porsche hit the higher slots of the timing screens over the two day - four session test with the benefit of data sharing whilst the two GTE Pro cars from AMR, who have only tested at the circuit once before prior to their new GTE's official launch, were nearer the bottom of the pages.

Conversely, over in GTE Am, the factory supported #98 car of Paul Dalla-Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda were very much at the top of the screen in class - never more than 0.5 of a second off the ultimate class pace as the WEC GTE Am class leading car - the Project 1 Porsche hit running problems before a car destroying fire on Sunday.

Strangely for the boys in lime and blue, there was little in the way of comment being made via social media in just how the test was going for the two class of cars although the #95 crew did supply us with a fine supply of video clips of their car around the circuit. Was that a case of just being too busy or were they having issues - certainly the former would have been the case so we shall await and see.

From what we can make out, the #95 car will probably run with Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim doing the majority of the driving in the car come the race with the returning Darren Turner only likely to do a stint or two within the 1000mile race on Friday. Interviews with Turner seemed to lay around the progress made by the team in handling and stability within the car since Le Mans in June and particularly with the cars handling over kerbs and bumps - the latter being something which the Sebring circuit is renowned for.

The #97 GTE Pro car of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin, they ran with just the pair of drivers at the test (and probably the race by the looks) with Jonny Adam being back supporting the guys from TF Sport in their #90 GTE Am car at their first visit to the USA.

For the marque, GTE Am is where the battle lies with both the factory supported #98 and the TF Sport car figuring in the top three within the Championship. With the class leader very much on the back foot at the event this week after the fire and still awaiting the arrival of its spare chassis from Europe, both AMR cars will be hopefully of stealing a significant points margin from their rivals to reduce the gap in the Championship as it returns to Europe in the Spring for the final two rounds of this transitional year at both Spa and Le Mans.

For the GTE Pro guys, we have learned before not to dismiss any racing possibilities based upon the result of some Free Practice or Qualifying times as they usually all count for nothing after the vigours of what is expected to be an eight hour race that will end at about midnight local time - and that is something different from any 'typical' WEC event up until now.

Thanks to TF Sport this weeks session times (set in GMT) can be seen below.

Photo/image credits - AMR / TF Sport

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 |
Academy confirm second car in GT4 European Series

Academy confirm second car in GT4 European Series

Only late last ween did Worcester based Academy Motorsport confirm the first of two new Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's that they would be entering into the SRO's GT4 European Series with team returnees Tom Wood and Fiona James sharing the first car in Pro-Am.

Today sees the team announce the line up for their second car with single seater convertee Matt Cowley finally being able to make his announcement - he will partner (as things stand today) team boss Matt Nichol-Jones in the second car unless another driver comes along and signs up at the last minute. Interested parties should contact Academy Motorsports directly.

Having taken the traditional motorsport development route of karting before going into single seaters in 2013, Manchester born Cowley has seen success both at home and in the USA where he competed last year in the FIA F4 US Series whilst under the watchful eye of the Andy Priaulx Sports Management programme. 2019 will be his first experience of GT racing.

Having first tested the new AMR Vantage GT4 at the collective test day with the AMR team at Oulton Park in November last year and again more recently at Silverstone, todays announcement and the possession of the two new cars within the team finally allows all the squads to go testing without restriction.

The GT4 European Series kicks off its six round series in just a months time in Monza.

Photo credits - Matt Cowley Racing

Monday, March 11, 2019 |
Very healthy GT competition for Beechdean AMR in Le Mans Cup

Very healthy GT competition for Beechdean AMR in Le Mans Cup

Today has seen the ACO confirm their full season entry list for this years Michelin Le Mans Cup series with again ten GT cars making up their share of the biggest pre season grid to date with thirty two cars across its two classes of GT3's and LMP3's.

Following in the footsteps of the only previous Aston Martin Racing customer team to enter into the series back in 2016 (Team Champions) and again in 2017 for TF Sport, Beechdean AMR confirmed only last week of their participation within the European series at their 2019 livery reveal from the Prodrive factory.

Joining up once again after the last exploits within the European Le Mans Series will of course be Team Principle Andrew Howard and AMR reserve driver Ross Gunn for another six round hopefully successful rounds of racing which includes a support race position at the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Todays announcement shall see the teams new 2019 specification Vantage GT3 compete against three Mercedes AMG GT3's, four Ferrari 488's, a Lamborghini Huracan and a Porsche 911 GT3 R. A pre-season collective test at the Paul Ricard Circuit in southern France on the 10th April together with the first round at the circuit just three days laters kicks off the 2019 season before visiting Monza, Le Mans, Barcelona, Spa Francorchamps and Portimao at the end of October.

This series entry will very much be an attempt by Howard to earn himself a further automatic entry into the 24Hrs of Le Mans next year just like he did in 2016 when his team won the European Le Mans Series GTE Class at the first attempt! Maybe he hasn't purchased the GTE conversion kit quite yet then!!

Monday, March 11, 2019 |
Finally - the WEC gets back on track this weekend

Finally - the WEC gets back on track this weekend

After an interlude between races that has felt like an entire season in itself, its great to think that the World Endurance Championship gets back on track for the first time in 2019 this weekend with an all important two day test at the Sebring race track in Florida.

With over three months since the last round of this transitional year 'Super Season' back with the 6Hrs of Shanghai back in mid November, for many teams it has been difficult finding something productive for their team and their drivers to do over for the winter months - not so at Aston Martin Racing.

For the many engineers and technical staff that make up AMR's factory WEC team, their has of course been the small issue of finalising and then starting to build the whole plethora of new 2019 variant Vantage GT3 and GT4 race cars for their customer teams in time for their 2019 season that (for most) will start in about a months time.

Then the same could be applied to their drivers but with only some off the greater AMR team's eleven drivers only finding occasional racing mileage over the winter (mainly at the Gulf 12hrs in December) and more recently with GT3/GT4 testing duties both in the UK and in Europe.

With the WEC circus going to the Florida circuit for their first time as having previously raced at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas, the series organisers have permitted this two day official test because many teams have never visited the circuit before but mainly because of the long interval between the start of the 1000 Miles of Sebring later this month and the previous round in China last year. With the WEC sharing the race weekend with the corresponding IMSA event, race organisers obviously want to give a good showing of their product in front of a more knowledgable American audience.

For the two factory GTE Pro cars and the GTE Am car of Paul Dalla Lana that they also support, this week will be the first time that their engineers will have seen their cars since they were packed away after their GTE Pro class race winning success in China. For fellow GTE Am team, TF Sport, they did elect to return the car back to base in the UK after China so that necessary chassis repairs could be made and verified before packing the car away again ready for its transatlantic crossing to Florida.

All four AMR cars are scheduled to test with a full driver contingent except for the #97 GTE Pro car that still figures only Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn after third driver Jonny Adam was again 're-allocated' back to the #90 TF Sport customer car of Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood from now to perhaps the end of the season at Le Mans in June. Darren Turner also returns to the #95 car of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim for both the test and the race although he suggests that his involvement in the race may be limited to just one or two stints.

Who or if a third driver will be placed into the 'spare' seat of the #97 car for the race remains to be seen.

The #98 GTE Am car of Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy remains unchanged and track ready after their recent GTD/GT3 exploits at the Daytona 24 and Bathurst 12hrs earlier this year.

In the ongoing WEC Championship standings, the #95 remains the highest place AMR car in P5 but some distance behind the leading Porsche crew but in GTE Am the #98 and #90 cars are well placed in P2 and P3 respectively behind the class leading Project 1 Porsche after the then leading Dempsey Proton Porsche's lost their points tally due to their fuel flow antics in the Far East.

Photo credits - AMR / WEC

Friday, March 08, 2019 |