Its been a long and somewhat painful seven week break for Italian GT squad, Solaris Motorsport since they last ran their #007 Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3 at the International GT Open winter test at the Paul Ricard circuit at the beginning of March.
Having dipped a toe into the expanding European series at their season finale in Barcelona last year (races that included a podium finish for drivers Francesco sini and Jody Fannin) the team quickly decided to take a progressive step up from their own national GT series.
The winter test in Paul Ricard was supposed to set the team up, along with their new driver line up of Francesco Sini and Swiss driver Mauro Calamia on the path of progressive winter testing leading into the opening round of the series.
Instead, a significant accident in the wet for Sini effectively wrote off their Vantage GT3 chassis just weeks before the start of the season. Late nights and extra ordinary efforts from members of the AMR Partner Team have seen them build up the newest Vantage GT3 car on the fleet, most of it from kit form direct from Prodrive in less than three weeks.
"It was amazing! These guys were fantastic, in less than 20 days they have rebuild an entire GT3! Really, I can't' find the right words to explain my feelings, we will never be able to thank them enough!" said team boss Roberto Sini
Yesterday, the team finally arrived in Estoril, Portugal ready to represent the marque in lieu of TF Sport (who have of coursed move onto bigger things in the ELMS). Now the work really begins…….!!
Twenty four cars make the Provisional entry list for Estoril along with many new entries and indeed new race cars to the series. The two race event works on a Qualifying and then race format for each of Saturday and Sunday of the race weekend with each driver in the car taking sole charge of qualifying on each day.
And of course - each race is streamed live via the series web site.
Photo credits - Solaris Motorsport
The Racers Group (TRG) returns to Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) SprintX competition this weekend at the challenging Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Drivers Drew Regitz and Kris Wilson are partnering to compete in the #007 LaSalle Solutions, Ring Central Aston Martin Vantage GT3 V12 and Jerry Kaufman and Kyle Tilley will be teaming up in the #09 Exterior Cleaning Professionals , LaSalle Solutions, Ring Central Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4. All four drivers have years of experience in multiple racing series and platforms and the team is excited to support them as TRG begins defense of its 2016 PWC SprintX team championship. VIR is a track where TRG has enjoyed immense success over the years and the team is anxious to return this weekend.
SprintX – GT Class
Drew Regitz hadn’t even sat in a race car until 2012, but he’s made up for lost time. Starting in 2013, Drew raced a seven-race schedule in PWC for TRG and he hasn’t looked back, competing in a total of 18 events to date where he’s had numerous podium finishes, including a first place finish in SprintX along with second and third place finishes in Sprint GTA.
Kris Wilson, Regitz’s current driving coach, has seen and done nearly everything in the realm of sports car racing, from driving and coaching to wrenching on cars. He’s always a threat to make it to the top of the podium each weekend. Wilson is a PWC paddock stalwart and a go-to driver for TRG. Kris took rookie of the year titles in Formula Mazda, US F2000 and Firestone Firehawk. He’s also competed in the Rolex Series, World Challenge, World Sports Car and the American Le Mans Series. Kris raced the entire 2014 Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge with Max Riddle, and the two were integral to TRG’s SprintX team title in 2016.
SprintX – GTS Class
Jerry Kaufman grew up with a need for speed and a passion for motorsports. 2013 was Jerry’s first year of club racing and he was rookie of the year and garnered a national championship with BMW CCA. Fast-forward to 2016 and Kaufman had jumped to the pro level, competing in the IMSA Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge. 2017 marks his first year with TRG and he is excited to get behind the wheel of the #09 Aston Martin.
Kyle Tilley is a second-generation racer with a strong history of competition racing under his belt. He spent his early years in the British Formula Ford series, where he won 11 of the series’ 12 races, nine pole positions, and 12 fastest laps. A veteran of over 70 races, Kyle has piloted a variety of cars with class wins and always aims to win. He and the team expect great things with Kyle as part of the team heading into the very competitive SprintX season.
Darren Turner returned to the Nürburgring Nordschleife last weekend for the special 6-hour qualifying race that precedes next month’s Nürburgring 24 Hours. Turner will tackle the 24-hour race in the Aston Martin Vantage GT8, along with Nicki Thiim, Florian Kamelger and Peter Cate and the team’s preparations got off to the best possible start with a class victory on Sunday.
“This was my first opportunity to race on the Nordschleife since last year’s 24-hour race,” said Turner. “This event is great preparation for the 24-hour race for the drivers, the car and the team as it’s not the sort of circuit you can just turn up at once a year. You need the extra running that this race gives you to get your eye back into the circuit.”
The plan for the weekend was to make sure that the GT8 was running well, find the perfect set up for the race and give each driver a stint behind the wheel.
“Qualifying went well for us and I managed to put the GT8 on class pole position,” said Turner. “The fact that we managed to dip under the nine minute mark clearly shows the level of performance in the GT8.”
Thiim took the race start on Sunday and built up a comfortable lead before handing the car over to Cate who was able to further consolidate the class lead. Turner was up next, running on a harder compound tyre to try it out for the race.
“I tried the harder compound tyre when I went out,” he explained. “It still gave good performance but with the colder track conditions it wasn’t optimal. It’s all good as we now have information on the medium and hard tyres for the 24-hour race.”
Kamelger – who was on double duty as he was also driving the GT4 Aston Martin - jumped in for the next stint. Again, he increased the lead to set the team up for a comfortable run to the flag for Nicki Thiim who crossed the line to take the class victory.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend,” said Turner. “The GT8 ran faultlessly throughout. There will be more cars in the class for the 24-hours so we’re expecting a tighter battle. With 200 plus cars due to start the race I’m sure we have some eventful laps ahead of us. The main thing though is that the drivers, the car and the team are all ready for the challenge.
The 2017 Nürburgring 24 Hours takes place on 27-28 May.
Source material - Darren Turner PR
Nearly a month earlier than last year, Aston Martin Racing together with other World Endurance Championship teams using Dunlop rubber are at the Magny Cours circuit in southern France for their annual 'into the night' test.
Towards the end of May last year, AMR also sent a sole Vantage GTE to the test before moving onto Monza for some final pre Le Mans 24hour testing. This time the testing is pre Spa and will be part of their plan to recover ground lost to the Ford's, Porsche's and Ferrrai's at he opening round at Silverstone two weeks ago.
The only drivers known to be at the test is Richie Stanaway who posted this picture as well as Dunlop development driver and #97 crew member Daniel Serra.
The start of April seems so long ago, yet with one more racing weekend still left to go we take a brief look back on what has been an incredible month for Aston Martin Racing and its Partner and Customer teams around the world.
Way back at the beginning of the month CMRT by Eurasia Motorsport entered a V12 Vantage GT3 into the inaugural round of the Blancpain GT Asia Series in Sepang and came away with a brace of third places for gentleman drivers Kenneth Lim and James Cai in the Am Class.
On the same weekend, Academy Motorsport entered their V8 Vantage GT4 into the first full season of the revised European GT4 Series (Northern Cup) and came away with a second place from Race 1 in Misano. Another in race 2 was on the cards until contact with a back marker took them out off the equation.
Next up was the opening round of the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone where Beechdean AMR would be defending their GTE crown. No one would have expected that series 'rookies' TF Sport would be able to replicate Beechdean's own endeavours by taking the class win by the end of the opening four hour race. The two AMR V8 Vantage GTE crews of TF Sport and Beechdean AMR are looking really strong in their seven car field.
The next day was of course the opening round of the World Endurance Championship, also from Silverstone where the #95 Dane Train would be also defending a GTE title. Whilst the two GTE Pro cars were outshone by their rivals it was the #98 GTE Am car that secured a podium finish despite a last lap collision and spin that robbed the squad of an otherwise secured class win. All three cars move on to round 2 at Spa in two weeks.
Two weekends ago we saw the start of the British GT Championship up at Oulton Park again with TF Sport defending their GT3 crown. There is a much reduced AMR entry into this years championship with only five cars from three teams competing on a full season basis. Never the less the #1 car from TF Sport secured both a third and a second from the two race meeting with team mates in the #11 car also taking third in the second race.
The ever so busy Jonny Adam was again on duty last weekend with the start of the european based Blancpain GT Series and their Endurance Cup at Monza. Having already qualified on Pro-Am Class pole, the #97 car was somewhat fortunate to avoid the collisions that took place just in front of them going down to the first corner that eliminated over a dozen cars from the race. After the restart, the duo never looked back and secured a class win on the penultimate lap.
Finally and certainly no means least we saw Hudmotorsport, new to an AMR V12 Vantage GT3 for 2017 secure an incredible trio of second places at the opening meeting of the 2017 GT Cup Championship at Donington being beaten each time by a single driver in a McLaren. Those three trophies are in addition to another won by the squad at the opener of the Britcar Endurance Series at Silverstone a few weeks earlier.
This weekend coming we see round two of the British GT hit the Rockingham Speedway with their five AMR entries again vying for position and the GT Open finally opening their campaign from Estoril with Italian squad Solaris definately attending with their brand new V12 Vantage GT3.
On a light note, had yesterday's N24 Qualifying race had been for points or prizes then there would have been yet another one to celebrate with a class win for Aston Martin's Vantage GT8 - but it wasn't - and we can't……….!!
Long may this continue!!!
Photo credits - CMRT / Academy / Adrenal Media / hudmotorsport / Social media / AMR
Hot off the heels of victory in the opening round of the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone and a double podium in the British GT championship at Oulton Park, TF Sport added further silverware to its collection on Sunday afternoon (23 April, 2017) at Monza with victory in the Pro-Am Blancpain Endurance Cup.
"For Oman Racing with TF Sport to win on its debut in Blancpain is mind blowing,” said TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “The level of the championship is so strong. Going into the weekend I just wanted strong points, so to achieve this surpassed expectations. We are on the crest of a wave as a team at present. We have improvements to make in all areas so I know we can be stronger."
Competing as Oman Racing with TF Sport, Jonny Adam and Ahmad Al Harthy teamed up for their first race of the season together in the #97 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. Practice saw both drivers working race setup initially before switching to qualifying setup and they carried that momentum in qualifying where Ahmad Al Harthy and Adam were seventh and quickest overall in the class.
The three-hour race saw Ahmad Al Harthy compete a double stint, surviving a dramatic first lap incident whilst fending off the attentions of the #911 Porsche. The team battled a small fuel rig issue which allowed the #11 Kessel Racing entry to pass in the second stop, before Adam took over for the final stint and with over a ten second deficit to the leading Pro-Am #11. With a flurry of fastest laps, Adam closed the deficit and in a late race shoot out, gained the position and with it the Pro-Am race win and eighth position overall.
"It's been a great weekend for TF Sport and Oman Racing,” said Adam. “Qualifying was very important and to get seventh and first in class set us up nicely for the three-hour race. Ahmad's first two stints were very impressive and gave us track position.
“The last 30 minutes was a big push to catch the Pro-Am leader. I was relieved to get by in the dying moments of a tough race but the team gave me a fast and perfectly handing Aston Martin GT3. I am happy for Ahmad and all of his partners at Oman Racing as we've been working hard to achieve this win for a few years now.”
Oman Racing with TF Sport return to the Blancpain Endurance Cup at Silverstone for the second round of championship on May 11-12.
The GT team with the Midas touch, TF Sport embark on yet another new adventure this weekend as they prepare their #97 Oman Racing V12 Vantage GT3 for the first round of the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup for the Autodromo di Monza.
Drivers Ahmad Al Harthy and Jonny Adam are the sole AMR representative within the 53 GT3 car entry for the opening round as they enter in the Pro Am Cup.
With the Bronze driver test already out of the way, tomorrow shall see the first Free Practice session plus Pre Qualifying before final Qualifying and the start of the three hour race itself on Sunday.
The race should be available on line via the Blancpain GT Series site.
Over at the Nordschleife in Germany, you will find the Qualifying Race for next months ADAC 24H at the Nurburgring featureuring two cars from the Aston Martin stable.
Returning to that rack for the first time in 2017 will be Aston Martin's race going Vantage GT8 car with the exceptionally talented driver line up of Messers Turner, Thiim, Cate and Kamelger. They then will be joined by an AMR Vantage GT4 being run by St Gallen's R-Motorsport team.
The start of the six hour race starts at noon on Sunday and should be available to view on line and with commentary from the Radio Le Mans team.
Closer to home, Donington sees the opening three rounds of the new GT Cup season this weekend and HudMotorsport will be there with their Vantage GT3 as the series also celebrates its tenth anniversary.
This is the first season drivers Nigel Hudson and Adam Wilcox have raced the AMR GT3 that they acquired over the winter (having previously raced an Audi R8) but they have already had some early success with a podium first time out in the Britcar Endurance championship at Silverstone a couple of weeks ago.
Finally, the lovely people at 22GT Racing will be at Snetterton this weekend for round two of the 750 Club Enduro with another two hour race. Drivers Chris and Mika Brown secured an eventful third first time out at Donington a couple of weeks ago in their V8 Vantage GT4.
Photo credits - Blancpain GT Series / Hudmotorsport / 22GT Racing / Social Media
Full season European GT4 Northern Cup entry, Academy Motorsport has today announced that it will be fielding a second, very familiar Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4 for Brands Hatch next month.
Making a competitive return to the race track for the second round of the Northern Cup for the first time since their untimely withdrawal from the British GT Championship midway through 2015 season, will be the Quantamatic liveried car of Mike Hart. He will be joined by another ex Caterham driver in Dave Robinson for the (at present) one off race as former team co driver Terry Langley has decided not to reinvigorate his GT racing career.
We understand that the car has been in the possession of Matt Nichol-Jones' Academy Motorsport team for some time now and was indeed shaken down by them at the AMR collective test in Portimao back in February.
Hart said "After a lot of effort from quite a few people, the Quantamatic car is making a one off appearance in the European GT4 Northern Cup at Brands Hatch next month.We'd like to compete again this year at the Zandvoort round, but we're looking for sponsors to help make that happen!"
Photo credit - Quantamatic Racing
China Equity Racing were there with multiple driver and multiple cars and claimed the fastest in the GT4 class by the end of the two day test. Also with a V8 Vantage GT4 was Wan Er Bu Fan Racing with their red and black liveried car.
The first race of the six round 2017 series will also start from the Beijing circuit in mid May.
Photo credits - - China GT