R-Motorsports dominating performance hangs under a cloud

R-Motorsports dominating performance hangs under a cloud

It would be a shame to think that R-Motorsport's otherwise faultless display in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup meeting at Silverstone over the weekend could come to nothing if they fail to win their appeal for alleged sporting regulation irregularities.

With the team having come away form the opening round of the Blancpain Series in Monza with a DNF and a lowly P9 finish, they had hoped that the expanse of the Silverstone circuit would allow their two V12 Vantage GT3's to stretch their legs.

With a steady improvement between their two cars over the Free Practice and Pre Qualifying sessions, its was Mathieu Vaxiviere who made the defining statement for the #76 car early in Q1 this morning setting a time of 1:56:637 - a time that would not be beaten although Nicki Thiim was required to put in a quicker lap in Q3 to improve their three way average lap time to retain that position at the end.

With the exception of less than one complete lap, the #76 car put in a faultless light to flag performance to take the overall win at the end of the three hour race. Vaxiviere started the race for the team and for a time had the team's sister #62 car acting as 'wing man' as he built up a lead from the #88 Mercedes. Pitting one lap later than the #88 car, Jake Dennis found himself coming out of the National pit land just behind the Mercedes but by the time they had reached Luffield for the first time, the Red Bull F1 tester had reclaimed the overall lead that they would not be relinquished again.

That left Thiim with the relative simple matter of just having to drive for his hour long stint managing the gap to the cars behind which he did leaving eleven seconds in the bag at the chequered flag.

For the sister car #62 car of Alex Brundle, Marvin Kirchhofer and Maxime Martin, they were never able to quite match the pace of the #76 car and would ultimately finish P5 overall - a finish that was still an improvement from last time and comes with a decent haul of points.

For the #76 car, there remains this appeal process that remains in place after series officials found that the cars data logger had not collected any data during the Qualifying process earlier in the day. As the team formally appealed that decision with the Stewards they were allowed to keep their qualifying position for the start of the race.

Until the series conclude this appeal process the race result shall remain provisonal.

Either way in that process, Silverstone was a still a magical event for the team running the oldest iteration of GT3 car in the top flight European series. Whilst the alleged transgressions are matter of fact, they were not performance enhancing so what was seen on track was true pace.

The teams now just have two weeks to settle themselves for the day to night race that is the 1000kms of Paul Ricard.

Photo credits - Blancpain
Sunday, May 20, 2018 |
Hud Motorsport frustrated by guesting Audi R8 in GT Cup

Hud Motorsport frustrated by guesting Audi R8 in GT Cup

If it wasn't for the presence of that pesky Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS, then Nigel Hudson's Aston Martin Racing's V12 Vantage GT3 would have had a clean sweep of round two of the GT Cup Championship from Brands Hatch - or so they say!

Having enjoyed a cracking start to the 2018 Championship at Donington Park last month, the Hudson/Adam Wilcox combo enjoyed a win and two second places with their JMH prepared car and were obviously hoping that Brands Hatch would permit them to improve upon that performance but that plan hadn't figured on Optimum Motorsport entering their GT Open car as a one off to help the development of their two drivers in that championship.

Such was the dominance of the #96 Audi that they scored the best time in all track sessions except for not being on pole for the start of Race 2 on Saturday.

With the rules requiring Hudson (Am) to race alone in the first two races of the event on Saturday, he transposed a P4 start to the race to a P2 finish in a shortened first race due to a nasty looking incident with a back marker getting nailed from behind by a faster McLaren which necessitated a red flag.

For race 2, Hudson started from P3 on the grid before earning himself another P2 finish (behind the Audi) at the end of that 25 minute race but some 23 seconds back.

Sunday's race of course allowed the inclusion of the teams' professional drivers and Wilcox was sure that he could match the pace of the #96 Audi if the team could resolve their apparent (soft) brake issue. They would finishing morning warm up and Qualifying in P2.

With the #96 car again soon making its escape up the track from the off, the #12 Hud Motorsport car found itself having to fend off the attentions of the yellow FF Corse 488 Challenge car with both cars pitting together at the half way point. By this point the gap from 1st to second was already 22 seconds so it was again just a question of the next two steps of the podium.

After that point, the power differences between the GTO class Aston and the GTC class Ferrari, despite the Pro drivers now aboard, allowed Wilcox to move comfortably away from the Ferrari to end the race nearly a lap ahead.

Overall, that result would be the team's third - second place of the meeting which, in the absence of any official confirmation, should place the #12 car at the head of the GTO Class as the championship's annual pilgrimage to Spa Francorchamps in early June.

For the Chris Murphy/Adam Hatfield pairing - their Brands Hatch event was aboard a Team Hard Ginetta GT55 GT4 as their normal Aston Martin Racing GT4 was extensively damaged during a test for the Britcar Endurance Championship last week.

The other Aston runner at Brands was the Ultimate Speed prepared V12 Vantage GT3 for Mike Brown and Paul Cripps as they used the event to prepare themselves for the forthcoming Aston Martin Racing Festival at Le Mans next month.

Photo credits - Steve Jackman / GT Cup

Sunday, May 20, 2018 |
Room for improvement for the AMR runners in Blancpain?

Room for improvement for the AMR runners in Blancpain?

After all the incident and drama that was the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup from Monza last month, the three Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3 runners will each be looking to improve upon their performance at this weekends second round from Silverstone.

Monza resulted in two decent opening results for the #62 R-Motorsport car of Alex Brundle, Marvin Kirchhofer and Maxime Martin for finishing P9 overall in the Pro class and a class P5 for the #97 Oman Racing car of Ahmad Al Harthy, Charlie Eastwood and Euan McKay in their Silver Cup class. For the remaining #76 R-Motorsport car, Monza was an unfortunate DNF despite their early promising pace in the race.

For many of the drivers, not just in the AMR cars, Silverstone will be the third weekend of a hectic schedule of works after the opening round of the WEC at Spa and then the ADAC Zurich N24 at the Nordschleife last weekend but with Le Mans looming, Silverstone will not allow time for any rest.

With 52 cars again entered into the race, even the apparent expanse of the Silverstone circuit will soon look busy with cars spread between the four classes around the 3.1mile track.

"We believe the Aston Martin will be strong at this circuit and all three drivers know the track well. We have some improvements to make over Monza both from the team and from the drivers, but I’m confident we’ll be in the hunt for podium positions.” said TF Sport team Principle Tom Ferrier.

R-Motorpsort meanwhile will be buoyed by the momentum gained from a good finish at the N24 from both Nicki Thiim and Maxime Martin whilst Jake Dennis will be fired up after his recent Red Bull F1 test but again, everything will be done to just how the best performing cars at Monza have been adjusted (BoP) by the Series as clearly some had a greater performance threshold than others.

Track action will begin tomorrow with Free Practice before the Pre Qualifying session in the Afternoon. Qualifying itself is on Sunday morning ahead of the three hour race itself that starts at 15:00hrs.

it also appears that should you get down to the R-Motorosport suite in the paddock you will be able to feast your eyes upon a new Aston Martin Vantage!!

Friday, May 18, 2018 |
GT Cup reconvenes at Brands Hatch

GT Cup reconvenes at Brands Hatch

The second event of the 2018 Bute GT Cup Championship starts tomorrow from Brands Hatch with another three races around the iconic Grand Prix loop for the twenty four car entry.

Having had a near perfect start to the season, the #12 Hud Motorsport duo of Nigel Hudson and Adam Wilcox return looking to still improve upon the 1st/2nd/2nd results last time out at Donington in their Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3.

Usual full season GT4 competitors, Whitebridge AMR will not however be at the event having suffered one of their cars being (?) written off in a testing accident before the Britcar event at Silverstone this time last week and with that car being (?) repaired/replaced and their second car being prepared for the Aston Martin Racing Festival at Le Mans next month, drivers Chris Murphy and Adam Hatfield have swapped over to a Ginetta G55 GT4 from the Team Hard stable.

Mentioning the AMR Festival, the Ultimate Racing team of Mike Brown returns to the track at GT Cup meeting for what is expected to be another one-off event (seen above testing at Brands Hatch earlier this week) as he and co driver Paul Cripps prepare themselves for the big event at Le Sarthe. Don't expect those horrible looking extended exhaust silencers to feature in the race weekend though!!

As usual, the meeting will feature three races - two for the Am driver racing solo on Saturday with a third race on Sunday featuring a pit stop and driver change.

Photo credit - Steve Jackman
Friday, May 18, 2018 |
A look at the AMR Festival Line up

A look at the AMR Festival Line up

Thirty eight race cars past and present from the Aston Martin Racing collective family will return to the Circuit de La Sarthe next month for the third running of the Aston Martin Racing Festival that runs in support of the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Finally announced earlier today, this years provisional entry list boasts a plethora of the marque's 'backbone' Vantage racing platform in both GT3 and GT4 format as well as examples of its predecessors in the GT1 and GT2 class. Joining them on the sacred track again will this time be two examples of the bespoke Vulcan after having only ran demonstration laps last time out in 2015.

Aston Martin CEO, Andy Palmer will again lead the pack from the front (or middle or rear of the grid - dependant upon where he qualifies), a pack that will also have a number of racing household names within its midsts. They include ex. F1 racer and TV pundit Martin Brundle, Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, TV chef and now part time racer Paul Hollywood as well as a 'once in a three year' return to the race track for Prodrive's David Richards and MD of AMR, John Gaw.

Other more familiar and Aston Martin Racing associated names just keep rolling off the tongue with the likes of Tom Alexander, Andrew Howard, Peter Cate, Jamie Chadwick and Jan Struve. The driver line of of Benny Simonsen and Lasse Sorensen in the #95 Young Driver AMR GTE is particularly appealing.

In a change to 2015, none of the drivers listed HERE will feature in the main 24 hour race.

We welcome Team Brit to the big stage with their V8 Vantage GT4 in what will only be their second race in the GT class having scored an class win in their first race last week in AMOC.

Racing members of the new Masters Endurance Legends series will also get their first taste of the festival - people like Alexander Lienau, owner of the Bilstein liveried Vantage GT3 who has been trying to attend such an event ever since buying the car from Paul White a couple of years ago with the car that he (White) and Tom Onslow-Cole won the event in back in 2015.

Joining Lienau from the series will also be the GT1 big boys of Nikolas Ditting with Dieter and Dominik Roschmann in their DBR9's.

Unfortunately and despite previous comments, this time around we will not get to see another Lola P1 strutting her stuff around the circuit as Stuart Hall did in 2015 with the Rofgo Collection car - incidentally, the Rofgo Collection will not be there at all which is a shame.

The only query regarding the event lies around one of the Whitebridge AMR GT4 cars after one of their two cars was written off in a testing accident at Silverstone at the Britcar meeting last week - that is why Chris Murphy and Adam Hatfield are racing a Ginetta in this weeks GT Cup events from Brands Hatch.

We also believe is at least five cars down as a result of the withdrawal of the TRG-AMR team from California earlier last month and the apparent no show from China!

Andy Palmer summed things up: “Having taken part in this event in 2015, I can say first-hand it will be a tremendous experience. Moreover, this is a wonderful celebration of all that Aston Martin Racing has achieved since we returned to the sport as a manufacturer. To be able to display so many different iconic Aston Martin racing cars, as well as the stunning Vulcan, in front of 250,000 fans is a testament to the durability of our brand.”

The race will take place on 16 June, at 1015 CET.

Other photo credits - AMR / Masters Series

Friday, May 18, 2018 |
Provisional entry list for Aston Martin Festival revealed

Provisional entry list for Aston Martin Festival revealed

Provisional Entry List:
GT3     #32      22GT Racing                                       Tom Alexander/Adrian Willmott
GT3     #3        Aston Martin Racing                           Ross Gunn
GT3     #77      Backbox Racing & R Motorsport        Alexander Lienau
GT3     #47      Jetstream Motorsport                          Graham Davison
GT3                 MB Racing                                          Mike Brown/Paul Cripps
GT3     #11      TF Sport                                              Mark Farmer
GT3     #59      Young Driver AMR                              Jan Struve/John Gaw
GT4     #9        22GT Racing                                       Dean Gibbs/Richard Marsh
GT4     #88      22GT Racing                                       Martin Buckland
GT4     #61      Academy Motorsport                           JM Littman/Rik Breukers
GT4     #62      Academy Motorsport                           Fiona James
GT4     #63      Academy Motorsport                           Steven Davison/Steve Phillips
GT4     #4        Aston Martin Belgium                         Arnold Herreman
GT4     #19      Aston Martin Belgium                         Jean-Paul Herreman
GT4     #97      Aston Martin Performance Centre      Jurgen Kroner/Wolfgang Schuhbauer
GT4                 Aston Martin Performance Centre      Andrew Palmer/Peter Cate
GT4                 Aston Martin Performance Centre     Jamie Chadwick/Paul Hollywood
GT4                 Aston Martin Performance Centre      Martin Brundle/Chris Hoy
GT4     #1        Beechdean AMR                                Andrew Howard/David Richards
GT4     #10      EDF Motorsports                                 Malcolm Sandford
GT4     #44      Generation AMR Super Racing          James Holder/Matthew George
GT4     #33      R-Motorsport                                       Joshua Reynolds/Markus Lungstrass
GT4     #69      Speedworks Motorsport                      Piers Johnson
GT4     #7        Street Art Racing                                Jean Marc Bourdouch/Albert Bloem
GT4     #60      Stratton Motorsport                             Robin Marriott
GT4     #71      Stratton Motorsport                             David Tinn
GT4     #66      Stratton Motor Co / TRG                    Jeff Huber
GT4     #68      Team BRIT                                         Warren McKinlay/Jamie Falvey
GT4     #91      Weathertech                                        Stephen Archer/Felix Archer
GT4     #57      Whitebridge AMR                               Chris Murphy/Barry McMahon
GT4     #15      Whitebridge AMR                               Bonamy Grimes
Vulcan #8        Aston Martin Performance Centre      Akinari Miura/Toro Nakano
Vulcan #6        Aston Martin Performance Centre     Gleb Stepanov/Stephen Tomkins
GT2                 Motohistorics                                       Shaun Lynn
GT1     #94      Sporting and Historic Cars                 Nikolas Ditting
GT1     #100    Sporting and Historic Cars                 Dieter Roschmann/Dominik Roschmann
GTE     #95      Young Driver AMR                              Benny Simonsen/Lasse Sorensen
INV                  Aston Passion                                     Vincent Bialostotski/Bernard Pascal
Friday, May 18, 2018 |
The last of a successful bunch?

The last of a successful bunch?

Lurking in the background of this photograph with one of the oldest versions of the Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3 is probably the newest - and the last to be produced by Prodrive.

These photographs were taken about a month ago at a track day event at Spa Francorchamps with Aston Martin Brussels running their chassis 8 GT3 as well as one of their GT4's with this multi-coloured GT3 hiding in the background.

That car was also depicted in several interesting journalistic pieces about both Aston Martin racing and Prodrive in the first few months of this year and from what we understand it, that car is the final GT3 car of the present iteration to be built by Prodrive for a customer as a track only car. That customer is or has a connection with Aston Martin Antwerp.

Notably, the double front seated car also features some Vantage GTE' esq features on it including mirrors, doors and steering wheel.

From everything that AMR have said over recent events, the run of GT3 cars finished at chassis #42 but we already know that one of the R-Motorsport cars is Chassis #42 so we assume that this beauty is older or newer than that?

Either way - can we have a ride in it please????

Photo credits - AM Antwerp / Filmed with Passion
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 |
A maximum points haul for Gray in Australian GT

A maximum points haul for Gray in Australian GT

Rounding off another successful weekend of motor racing for Aston Martin Racing and its customer and Partner teams was a clean sweep in the GT4 proceedings down at the third round of the Australian GT Championship at Sundown Park.

Having lost his 'mojo' a little last time out at The Bend in the first endurance round of the season, the #67 JMG/Bilstein V8 Vantage GT4 of Jeremy Gray secured total dominance over the weekends three, forty minute races to restore his lead in the overall championship.

With his main protagonist Justin McMillan not racing at the weekend, Gray now sees his championship lead extend by 213 points over the KTM X-Bow racer as the championship now moves over to Philip Island in early June.

Photo credits - Australian GT
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 |
Success in China for AMR's most colourful team

Success in China for AMR's most colourful team

Last weekend saw the China GT Championship kick off its 2018 campaign from the  Zhuhai International Circuit with a colourful collection of four Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4's.

Stepping up from two, part time cars of last season, China Equity AMR acquired to two of the latest GT4's off the Prodrive production line just in time for last months Official test and are this year the sole AMR runners with Team Zea Fea not returning for 2018. Due to the wash out that was the Official Test in Beijing last month, most of the GT3/GTC/GT4 teams of the China GT Championship had two days of further testing made available to them before the opening two races.

Running three cars in the Pro-Am class and the other in the Am-Am class we had hoped that both Ross Gunn and Jack Mitchell would each be taking a full season part in the championship with the team but last minute deals meant that only Mitchell would travel out to coastal China this time together with the three supporting Prodrive engineers.

Mitchell would share the #618 car with financier Ryan Liu whilst the remainder of the driver line up would be regionally based including Yuan Tinting - one of two lady racers in the championship this year.

As still a fledgling championship in terms of world wide interaction and news flow, we know that testing came painfully to both Liu and Tingting after both their cars suffered extensive damage during testing and free practice to such a degree as the #618 would missed Qualifying for Saturdays race.

Despite that, two great drives from that pair saw them charge from plum last to second by the end of the race and then went one better to dominate race 2 for the top step. Further podiums were earned by the team over the weekend with their #118 car of Zhang Dasheng and Shen Cheng securing P3 in race as well as Tingting claiming P3 in the Am class despite her running as a single driver for the event.

The Championship now moves on to rounds 3 and 4 from Zhejiang at the start of June.

Photo credits - China Equity AMR / China GT
Monday, May 14, 2018 |
Team Brit win on debut GT race

Team Brit win on debut GT race

Setting the trend of success during last weekends worth of motorsport was Aston Martin Racing latest GT4 team, Team Brit who scored a number of significant milestones in their quest to be the first all disabled team to compete at Le Mans.

Racing their new V8 Vantage GT4 in a competitive race for the very first time on Saturday at the Aston Martin Owners Club meeting at Oulton Park, drivers Warren McKinlay and Jimmy Hill were the fortunate ones out of many with the team to have that honour.. The pair were again guided around the track in the first instance under the watchful eye of team driving coach Tom Jackson.

Despite more experienced opposition from the Stratton Motorsport team, the duo secured class pole and a convincing lights to flag win the the GT Challenge event.

CEO and Founder of Team BRIT, Dave Player said, “we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. Moving to GT4 racing is a huge step forward for us as a team and also for the individual drivers. We are dedicating ourselves 100% to our goals of reaching Le Mans and of changing the motorsport industry so that disabled drivers can compete on equal terms. Our success this weekend is a reflection of this dedication and we look forward to showing what we can do at our next race – the Aston Martin Le Mans Festival.”

Team BRIT competes on the iconic Le Mans race circuit in the Aston Martin Le Mans Festival on the 16th June. They will be the first all-disabled team to race on the circuit.

Photo credits - Kingsize Photography.
Monday, May 14, 2018 |
AMR Performance Centre launched at ADAC Zurich 24H

AMR Performance Centre launched at ADAC Zurich 24H

A decade on from the opening of the Aston Martin Nürburgring Test Centre, the newly-updated ‘AMR Performance Centre’ is now open for business.

Opened by Aston Martin President and Chief Executive Officer Dr Andy Palmer at an exclusive media and VIP guest reception on the eve of the 2018 ADAC Zurich 24-Hour race at the Nürburgring, the AMR Performance Centre represents a further step in the company’s plans to develop its AMR performance brand.

Situated alongside the 12.9-mile Nordschleife, the AMR Performance Centre becomes a ‘one-stop-shop’ for Aston Martin customers looking to develop their abilities on track.

From progressing individuals to their very first race licence through the centre’s Driving Academy, to providing a rigorous car preparation service, the AMR Performance Centre can cover all bases. For those also looking to compete, the facility can provide the opportunity to rent fully-supported race cars, deliver casual track day experiences or offer the ultimate Nordschleife ‘taxi-ride’.

For Aston Martin Racing – the British marque’s official motorsport outfit - the AMR Performance Centre will become a support hub for its European customers and race teams, who will be able to visit for advice and an enhanced parts service. With the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and GT4 race cars available later this year for the 2019 season, it is expected that the brand’s presence in all local racing championships will grow as a result of this new service. The AMR Performance Centre is also proud to offer specialist service and repair for the company’s most extreme super-cars - the One-77, the Vulcan track car, and the forthcoming Valkyrie.

Special guests at the opening party included all six Aston Martin Racing ‘works’ drivers - Darren Turner, Jonny Adam, Alex Lynne, Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim and Maxime Martin - who are all in action in the 24-Hour race which starts at 15:30 CET on Saturday 12th May

David King, Aston Martin Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer commented: “The Aston Martin Nürburgring Test Centre has served us well for the last decade but now we have stepped up a gear, with a re-branded, full-service Performance Centre. This will allow us to enhance our customer service, extend our road car testing and provide a higher level of support to our racing customers.”

Source material - Aston Martin
Monday, May 14, 2018 |
AMR's best ever finish at the Nordschleife

AMR's best ever finish at the Nordschleife

Aston Martin Racing secured its best ever finish in the ADAC Zurich 24 Hours Race by placing fourth overall in the world’s toughest endurance race.

The result marked the best finish by a British manufacturer in the event’s 48-year history, and was also the highest place that a V12 normally-aspirated engine has achieved in the race.

Yet amid the celebrations, there was heartbreak for the British manufacturer after misfortune and extreme weather denied the team a podium finish on the 15.97-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit with the seven year-old V12 Vantage GT3.

Maxime Martin (B), who shared #007 with former N24 class-winner Nicki Thiim (DN), Marco Sørensen (DN) and three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner (GB), was running third when the race was stopped because of poor visibility and heavy rain with three and a half hours to go.

After being put back a place for the restart, Max fought his way back into third but just couldn’t hold on as heavy rain returned in the final laps.

“Coming in to the race I would have taken fourth position happily,” said Martin, “and to be fighting for the podium with a seven-year old car here against all the other manufacturers is an incredible achievement. It’s a little frustrating, because I have finished second here twice and I’ve also finished fourth in the N24 so a third would have been nice!”

Martin was in a position to fight because of strong stints throughout a rain-hit race by his team-mates and Nicki’s courageous double-stint in heavy rain just after midnight.

“My double stint during the night was very intense, it started really well in the dry but then I could see the thunderstorm in the background,” said Nicki. “To go from the dry, the team made the right call to come in and change to the wet tyres but I could still not see anything out there due to the fog coming in. So it’s just you and the car, it’s hard, but fun, intense, definitely the only race that can get you so pumped.”

Aston Martin Racing Technical Director, Dan Sayers admitted after the race that the red flag was a pivotal factor in the podium fight: “The red flag really affected our race as it came just at the point when the pit stops were out of favour for us and put us in a compromising position for the restart,“ he said. “It’s a real shame because we were in great shape before that point.

“Third would have been a great send off for the V12 Vantage GT3, but our performance today really sets us up for a future assault here at the Nürburgring and we can use the experience gained by all the drivers, mechanics and engineers to come back stronger”.

Nineteen-year-old Jamie Chadwick became the youngest finisher of the N24 as part of the Nürburgring-based AMR Performance Centre entered Aston Martin Vantage GT4 all-British crew. Chadwick, who shared the car with pro drivers Alex Lynn, Jonny Adam and Peter Cate, was delighted with their fifth-placed finish in class.

“Unbelievable,” she said. “I came here with a few preconceptions but it was nothing like I’d expected; it was 10 tens time more and better. This was such a cool opportunity and to get to work with factory team-mates has been a great experience.”

David King, Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer of Aston Martin, summed up: “This is a great platform to build on with the new car. This is our second home in the heart of the largest sports car market in the world and it is really important that we are here punching above our weight like we have done today. We are the only British manufacturer amongst all these German powerhouses.

“It seems wrong to feel disappointed but I can’t help it because we were so close to a podium, a third place is so much more than a fourth place. So near and yet so far.

“The positives are that the car didn’t spend a second for unscheduled repairs, no driver made a mistake, everything went perfectly and with a bit of luck from the Code 60s, the tyre calls and the weather and the red flag that really impeded us over we could have been third. It was great fun and we gave all the fans something cheer.”

Source material - AMR
Sunday, May 13, 2018 |
Heads held high as AMR just miss out on N24 podium

Heads held high as AMR just miss out on N24 podium

Aston Martin Racing took the opportunity of running in this years ADAC Zurich 24H event to intentionally take the toughest GT race in the world to the dominant German manufacturers as a farewell gesture to their old Vantage GT3 and GT4 platforms as a factory entered concern.

With the likes of Audi, Porsche and Mercedes out selling their own GT3 platforms at a rate of almost 10 to 1 against that of AMR (just 42 cars ever produced), the odds of doing so were stacked firmly against AMR's single bullet of doing well in the pinnacle SP9 class. Joining the factory GT3 effort were two further cars entered under the AMR Performance Centre umbrella that would see the remaining AMR factory drivers get seat time as well as a full customer entry in the coveted Vantage GT8.

Hopes were raised at an early stage of the weekends proceedings as the #007 qualified P5 overall ahead of the start on Saturday morning just a second off the pace of the very fast and race favourite Manthey Racing Porsche 911 RSR.

Starting yesterday afternoon under blue skies and warm sunshine things didn't exactly get off to a good start for Jonny Adam and the #40 V8 Vantage GT4 (running in SP8) as an electrical issue with the fuel pump would see his car grind to a halt out on the formation lap loosing them multiple places. For the #007 GT3 car, Maxime Martin would have the honour of taking the start for the team and would hold station in his first 8 lap stint before he handed over to Nicki Thiim - so far so good!

Trouble would again hit the #40 car just short of the four hour mark with it spending over an hour in the pit box having (of all things) a new starter motor fitted - an issue that AMR President David King would later explain to be an almost unique event with one of their race cars. The time spent in the garage would equate to almost a whole 8 lap stint on track and obviously would put pay to any ambitions that they would have in the SP8 class which was a great shame as Adam, Alex Lynn, Jamie Chadwick and Peter Cate who all deserved more.

The teams #39 Vantage GT8 customer programme entry of Heinz Jurgen Kroner, Jens Dralle, Tony Richards and David Thilenius would enjoy a less eventful start to the race than the SP8 stable mates to hold P6 in class as more drama would behold the #40 at the six hour mark with Cate this time stopping out on track.

"The ADAC Zurich 24H race is a real race of attrition" said Darren Turner "as long as you have pace, a large amount of luck with all your driver line up then you had a chance" after his second stint in the car as darkness was about to fall.

By one third race distance the #007 car had cycled through its race programme to be challenging the leading #911 Manthey Porsche for the lead - and that was through sheer pace and consistency! Again, AMR's David King came out with a priceless quote of "the #911 Porsche was having unbelievable luck - almost Wacky Races type of luck as it seemed to miss all Code 60's, yellow flags and traffic!"

He also intimated that this GT3 may well figure at next months Aston Martin Racing Festival at Le Mans - so this event may not have been its actual last factory supported event after all!

Into the early hours of Sunday saw the predicted thunder storms arrive with their usual Eifel Mountains ferocity with the sky being lit up with lightning and the track and campsites being washed out by heavy rainfall. If the Nordschleife is difficult enough in the dark it was being down right dangerous in those conditions as many entries would crash out before dawn.

Unfortunately, one of those 'victims' was the #39 Vantage GT8 with American David Thielenius behind the wheel, who suddenly found his car snapping itself into the barrier on the historic part of the track causing a race ending amount of damage and a visit to the medical centre for himself. He would be deemed to be sore but otherwise OK which was the main thing.

As dawn broke the state of the track became obvious, huge plumes of spray from each passing car would hang a large volume of water vapour in the air and as tree lined circuit, that spray had nowhere to go - trouble brewing for later?

Thiim was back in the #007 and for time went out on cut slicks as the track was seemingly drying (or just not raining so much) but even he was forced to pit again for the full wet Michelin tyre. With torrential rain still falling all around the track and with the worsening presence of water vapour hanging in the atmosphere the race was deemed unsafe by Trace Control and was red flagged with 3.5 hours of the race remaining - a wise and justified call considering!

With the rules allowing teams to work on their cars everything was being fettled by the AMR team aboard the #007 and #40 car just in case a restart was imminent and that eventually came with just over an hour remaining and that restart would be behind a Safety Car as conditions still weren't ideal.

Taking the restart in P4 overall, it would again be the responsibility of Maxime Martin to see out AMR's ambition of winning the Nurburgring 24H and with just under half an hour to go he would be holding P3 overall but sadly the team couldn't afford for the car to run dry and the necessary 'splash and dash' would see them rejoin and indeed finish the race in P4.

Aston Martin Racing may not have achieved their primary objective of winning the N24 but they surely won the hearts and minds of all who watched such a brilliant race and paid great homage to the final V12 GT3 in the pack before they look forward to the arrival of their new V8 turbo charged GT3 at the end of the year.

Bad luck and commiserations to all of the team, all of the drivers and everyone else who put something into this - including the fans both at the track and on social media who helped to make this dream nearly come a reality. The #007 did of course win its specific SP9 LG (last generation) class with its P4 overall finish with the #40 car also ending up P4 in class after their early issues.

As a team, the momentum that they have gained from such great event this weekend can only serve them in good stead as they now look forward to Le Mans in just four weeks time.

Well done all!

Photo credits - AMR / N24

Sunday, May 13, 2018 |