First Le Mans points for new AMR Vantage GTE

First Le Mans points for new AMR Vantage GTE

Aston Martin Racing’s brand new Vantage GTE recorded a double-points finish on its Le Mans 24 Hours debut. Despite coming into the world’s most gruelling endurance race with only one competitive outing previously at Spa-Francorchamps, the two Vantage GTEs raced through the night with barely a hitch as the #95 car recorded its first top ten finish at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

This was an impressive achievement for the 4.0-litre twin turbocharged V8-powered race car, based on the highly-acclaimed road car borne of Aston Martin’s second century plan and driven by Danish duo Nicki Thiim, Marco Sørensen, and three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner after it had to be rebuilt from a new frame and roll cage after a testing crash.

Despite this challenging build-up the ‘Danetrain’ ran as its nickname suggested and from the moment in turned a wheel in free practice on Wednesday, did not register a single reliability issue and went on to record the highest finish by a new GTE car in the 86th running of the event.

The #97 crew, of Maxime Martin (BEL), Alex Lynn (GB) and last year’s winner Jonny Adam (GB) also finished the race in the FIA World Endurance Championship points positions, when you take into account the non-championship registered cars in front of them.

“It’s always an achievement to finish the race at Le Mans, which is the toughest and most important endurance event in the world,” said Darren Turner. “Even though we have had a significant test programme with this car, racing for 24 hours is a much tougher test, so to come through and pass it so strongly is very gratifying. We will find more pace in the coming races, but this is a fantastic platform to come next year and fight for another victory.”

Aston Martin Racing President, David King said: “You need three things to win Le Mans; reliability, the ability to avoid trouble and pace. We had two of those today and we will find the other as the season progresses. I am immensely proud of the team and of the car they have produced and for us to finish with both Vantage GTEs in the points is an example of a well executed race plan. We have gathered significant amounts of data and understanding about this car and, working with our technical partners Total and Michelin, we will extract the full potential of the Vantage GTE and return next year fighting for victory.”

The next race in the FIA WEC takes place at Silverstone (GB) on 19 August.

Source material - Aston Martin Racing
Sunday, June 17, 2018 |
Aston Martin Racing reveal new Vantage GT3 and GT4 platforms

Aston Martin Racing reveal new Vantage GT3 and GT4 platforms

Aston Martin Racing has revealed its new Vantage GT3 and Vantage GT4 customer racing cars to the public at the 86th24 Hours of Le Mans, with the Vantage GT3 making its racing debut in the Michelin Aston Martin Racing Le Mans Festival this weekend.

The new Vantage GT3 and GT4 – the former taking the track for the first time on Thursday (14 June) in the hands of Aston Martin Racing driver Ross Gunn - is derived from the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE; two of which are entered into the GTE Pro category of this weekend’s showpiece endurance event. All three modern Vantage race cars are based on the critically-acclaimed Aston Martin Vantage road car and powered by the same 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 engine, optimised by Aston Martin Racing.

Weighing in dry at 1245kg, the Vantage GT3 produces a boost-variable 535bhp and 700 Nm of torque. Built from a lightweight aluminium chassis, again based on the road car, it features a steel roll-cage, an Xtrac six-speed sequential gearbox, an Alcon motorsport multi-plate clutch, Öhlins four-way adjustable dampers and Alcon brakes and Bosch Motorsport ABS.

The Vantage GT3 remains in development until homologated on 1 March, 2019 and replaces Aston Martin’s most successful customer car, the V12 Vantage GT3, which is still winning races seven years after it was first introduced to the market – most recently in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and British GT series. One of the key reasons for the popularity of the Vantage GT3’s predecessor was the ease at which it allowed inexperienced racers to drive quickly while maintaining an optimum performance window for professional drivers to be competitive in.

While not competing this weekend, the new Vantage GT4 will remain on display throughout in the Aston Martin Racing Festival Race paddock, offering potential customers and race fans a first glimpse of the marque’s new challenger. Along with the Vantage GT3, it will remain in development throughout 2018 and is set to be homologated for competition from 1 March, 2019.

“Driveability and a wide operating window remain key targets for us as we develop the new Vantage GT3 and GT4 racing cars,” says Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw. “The fact that our customers can still purchase the V12 Vantage GT3 and be competitive seven years after it was introduced is a fantastic legacy to build on, and the new cars will take this concept on in leaps and bounds. The current GT3 is very popular with customers, and there is a desire to spread our marketplace to more championships and at a high level, and from the expressions of interest that we have seen so far I believe we are on track to do that.”

Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer David King said: "The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is a worthy successor to the V12 Vantage GT3 and represents the core future of our customer racing programme. With the continued growth of GT racing in general and the GT3 category in particular, this new car and its Vantage GT4 brother will lead our expansion in the GT markets around the globe and particular target areas of the US and Asia. We’ve already seen a high level of interest from potential customers and we only expect that to grow as the car evolves closer to its homologation date."

Source material  Aston Martin Racing 
Thursday, June 14, 2018 |
Where 2018 all begins for Aston Martin Racing

Where 2018 all begins for Aston Martin Racing

Its been a busy twenty four hours for Aston Martin Racing over in Le Mans as various announcements have come out from both the team and series, announcements that will help sculpt the path along which the team will follow moving forward - not just in the this 24hour race but as a whole.

First came the news that the ACO had indeed addressed an apparent imbalance with the Balance of Performance across the GTE Pro range where the new Aston Martin Racing GTE received the biggest number of adjustments compared its competitors - an increase in turbo boost across the rev range and a larger  permitted fuel load.

That was all well and good if it hadn't been for the further  incomprehensible adjustments to all the other OEM cars except for the Porsche - which happens to be celebrating a significant anniversary year!

Five seconds is a great deal of time to be able to make up on track and we can already see from this afternoons first (and only) Free Practice session that the two AMR Pro cars have indeed moved forward in lap times - but so have the others so the #95 and #97 cars are still three seconds in arrears. despite the whole wrath of changes in that class.

Only time will tell we suppose ..............................!!

This mornings news from the team was final confirmation of the partnering with Sky as the marques official media partner. Clues to this had been visible for some weeks - the Sky logo was clearly visible on the transporter as AMR visited Snetterton the week before the LM24 Official test for example so although commercially significant, it wasn't front page news!

Sky logos will also be visible on all of the AMR cars entered into the Le Mans 24hours and going further into this new Super-season from the FIA. The V8 Vantage GT4 as driven by Sir Chris Hoy and Martin Brundle in Saturdays Aston Martin Racing Festival will also carrying the logo.

Finally, the most exciting news of the day (or non news to be exact) was the publishing of photos of the new AMR Vantage GT4 and GT3 that both have a physical presence within the Festival paddock but these did not come from the team. We understand that the cars were due to be revealed at 15.30hrs this afternoon but for some reason that didn't take place as apparently planned.

Months ago there had also been some hype as to one of Aston Martin's Valkyrie hyper-cars leading the Festival field around the Circuit de La Sarthe - that doesn't appear to have any degree of reliability anymore so maybe (just maybe) the two latest recruits from the Aston Martin Racing empire will take to the field instead?

We ourselves now have a very early start tomorrow whilst we embark on our annual pilgrimage to Le Mans - let the good times roll!

Photo credits - AMR / Aston-Passion

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 |
First sights of Aston Martin Racing's new Vantage GT3 and GT4

First sights of Aston Martin Racing's new Vantage GT3 and GT4

Thanks to Aston Martin Festival participant Aston-Passion for posting these photographs of the yet brand new AMR Vantage GT3 and GT4 at Le Mans this morning.

If ever a pair of car look like a winner - its these ......................!!

Photo credits - Aston-Passion

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 |
The highs out-weigh the lows for AMR runners at Silverstone

The highs out-weigh the lows for AMR runners at Silverstone

Qualifying for the British GT Championship's Silverstone 500 endurance event hadn't really painted a reliable picture as to who was hot and who was not before the start of Sundays three hour race with just two AMR GT3 cars represented in the top five.

Sundays morning's warm up gave the teams food for thought as early cloud cover kept the air and track temperatures lower than what they had been used to going into the fourth round of the season but it was the #11 TF Sport of Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim who reacted the quickest to the changeable conditions to log the fastest time of just over half a second from the best of the rest.

Fortunately with a post midday grid, the sun had had time to works its magic to leave clear blue skies and warming temperatures as the Am drivers were readied to start the first leg of the race.

Thirty runners and riders had successfully managed to navigate the first few corners as track position was initially maintained however there was some contact amongst a few within the GT4 ranks that rendered race day over for some at a very early stage. As expected, the silver-silver pairing within the Nissan GTR soon put distance between themselves and the chasing Mark Farmer whilst Andrew Howard immediately dropped back towards the rear of the GT3 field in a weekend where his #99 Vantage GT3 never really shone.

In GT4, the leading Academy car of Tom Wood was giving the leading McLaren a run for their money hoping they would damage their tyres at an early stage, a race that its sister car with Will Moore aboard wanted to join in, but as ever that only served to slow both of them down and into the hands of the next McLaren behind.

For the top GT3 runners from last time out at Snetterton, it was all a case of creating sufficient a gap to those behind to accommodate the success time penalty that would be later applied to their third compulsory stop - that meant +20 seconds for the #17 TF Sport car of Derek Johnston and Marco Sorensen, +15 seconds for the Beechdean of Howard and Darren Turner and +10 seconds for Farmer and Thiim.

Having a great run out in the early stages was Matt George in the guesting #144 Generation AMR SuperRacing V8 Vantage GT4 who, after having started from P16 was soon battling with the two Academy cars for position before achieving that and moving onto the P2 McLaren ahead.

During the first half an hour, the #47 Jetstream Motorsport car of Graham Davidson had been keeping a watching brief behind Farmer before track congestion allowed him to close the gap from seconds to just a cars length. Unfortunately for both, that lead to an over ambitious move by Davidson on the #11 car coming out of the Maggots/Becketts complex that would see contact with the rear end of the #11 car sending Farmer into a spin off the track whilst the #47 appeared able to continue.

Considering what, how and where - that could have easily been curtains for the TF Sport car but miraculously Farmer was able to gather his thoughts and the car to return to the track having lost just one position. For Davidson however, that transgression would give him and co driver Maxime Martin firstly an unannounced pit stop for damage before another stop for a ten second stop and go for avoidable contact - everything that would seal their fate in the race to a lowly finish.

By the first hour mark the Am drivers had all swapped over to their respective Pro drivers and it was Marco Sorensen aboard the #17 TF Sport car who came out in front by the time the cycle had made its way through the pack. To exaggerate the gap to those behind the #17 was by virtue of Struan Moore being actively slower in his first stint aboard the Nissan GT3 which held up everyone else behind him. It was only later it became apparent that this was because he didn't have time to adjust his seat properly and therefore couldn't reach the pedal box properly!! Amongst those catching were Thiim in the #11 car and a certain Jonny Adam in the #75 Optimum car who had had until then a very productive but uneventful race with Flick Haigh aboard.

It transpired over the weekend that the Optimum car had blown its engine after Snetterton and the performance of the resulting change had given the Flick Haigh/Adam combo renewed motivation to pursue. Much the same was for Thiim who had just passed two cars in two laps to reclaim P2 overall but for Martin, now in the Jetstream car, the bad day continued by spinning coming out of Luffield.

With just over an hour to go the timing screens replicated those of Snetterton by having four AMR cars in the top four - #17/#11/#75/#99 in the short transition between taking the Pro out - putting the Am back in and then swapping over back to the Pro again for the final run to the flag.

The two Academy cars looked set for a decent finish with the #61 of Wood/Jonck looking good over the #62 of Moore/Nichol-Jones considering the impending #62's 10 second success penalty at the final stop. The #144 car of George/Holder however got a 10 second stop and go penalty (for a reason never really clarified at the time) and that would put them well out of contention.

With just 45 minutes of the race remaining, Farmer pitted for the final time to hand back to Thiim but the additional ten seconds appeared to take an eternity. Leaving two thick black lines behind him on the pit apron Thiim exited pit lane just ahead of the #33 Lamborghini of Phil Keen in a 'winner takes all' sprint to the flag. What spun the other AMR cars around was the fact that the #17 car had to serve the maximum additional 20 seconds whilst Adam in the #75 car had none - that allowed Adam to jump onto the rear of the #33 Lamborghini in that sprint to the flag.

Disaster was to befall the #61 Academy car with just five or so minutes remaining as entering onto the Hanger Straight for almost the penultimate time the normally reliable V8 engine let go in dramatic fashion leaving the Dane with no choice but to park it on the grass. With fluid also on the track that could have easily have led to a Safety Car in the final stages, Race Control luckily left it under the local control of the track marshals to allow Thiim to take the flag by just 3.5 seconds to Keen who in turn finished 4.5 seconds ahead of Adam.

Giving his team a bitter-sweet moment was Matt Nichol-Jones who, having diced with the #55 Ginetta only to loose out on the final step to the podium on track but to have it reinstated post race after the late move not the #62 car by the Ginetta included avoidable contact. The disappointment and frustration on young Tom Wood's face was all too evident.

As a whole, the Silverstone 500 started as a completely open race but for the Am drivers of two AMR teams who showed great resolve to overcome their own adversity to finish on the podium again. Considering Farmer had been spun off the circuit at one point, he drove an impeccable race backed up by impeccable service from the TF Sport crew not to mention the contribution from a very handy AMR factory driver whilst on the other side of the TF Sport garage, their performance was ultimately hindered by a success penalty they couldn't quite overcome on track.

This result now places Farmer/Thiim just 2.5 points behind Championship leading Keen/Minshaw with Adam/Haigh up to P4 and Johnston/Sorensen just behind in P5 whilst in GT4 the Moore/Nichol-Jones crew move up to P2 overall.

The next round of the British GT Championship comes from Spa Francorchamps at the end of July.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 |
AMR's showmen arrive for the greatest show in the world

AMR's showmen arrive for the greatest show in the world

With the sweet smell of champagne hardly having the time to fade, the five Aston Martin Racing factory drivers who had been supporting their respective customer team's at yesterdays British GT Championship race at Silverstone were being whisked away in style for their next appointment in their hectic schedule.

On hand again as their chauffeur extraudinaire again was none other than TF Sports Mark Farmer who himself also has a date at Le Mans in the Aston Martin Racing Festival aboard his TF Sport prepared Vantage GT3.

The reason for the hasty departure was of course that the teams and drivers were needed to comply with due process and attend their allotted slot this afternoon at the Le Pesage (the show) that is held every year in the centre of Le Mans town and is where their cars and drivers equipment and credentials are checked by the race officials one last time (and in public) ahead of the first track activity that begins on Wednesday.

As you will see, the weather in Le Mans isn't exactly the same as it was last year with periodic torrential showers slowing proceeding slightly as the teams had to take shelter whilst awaiting their turn in the Place de La Republique.

These terrific photographs provided to us today from Prescott Motorsport (where watermarked) help to give a great feeling of ambiance as team crew and watching fans give mutual respect and understanding that is synonymous in sportscar racing in conditions that were sadly far from ideal.

For the four cars from the Aston Martin Racing stable, tomorrow will be the last day of relative tranquility before the engines of 60 cars roar into life for the first track action of the forthcoming race weekend that starts with Free Practice Wednesday afternoon.

With the AMR crew having worked miracles to even have one of their two new Vantage GTE cars available in France to race in the first place is testament to the resolve and determination that is needed to succeed in France.

With titles to be defended and won it'll be all to play for...............!!


Photo credits - by kind permission of Prescott Motorsport (watermarked) / AMR / Social media

Monday, June 11, 2018 |
Busy time for some to get ready for the Festival

Busy time for some to get ready for the Festival

Sitting proudly on display within the Beechdean AMR paddock area at last weekend's British GT Championship at Silverstone was the car that Andrew Howard and David Richards will use in this week's Aston Martin Racing Festival at Le Mans.

Competing in the highly competitive GT4 field that will sport something around 24-25 cars, the #001 V8 Vantage GT4 will have its first run out of the year with both the team boss and the boss of Prodrive.

Not having run at Silverstone in the British GT race the #1 car of course will arrive at the Circuit de La Sarthe in a pristine condition and ready to race which is not exactly how some of the cars that were raced yesterday will!!

The V12 Vantages of TF Sport, Ultimate Speed and Jetstream Motorsport along with the GT4's of Academy Motorsport and Generation AMR SuperRacing will all need a good service after yesterdays 3 hour race but sadly a few of these sustained damage during the course of events. The worst is the car used as the #61 in British GT that suffered a suspected engine failure in the final minutes of yesterdays race whilst the Jetstream car suffered (hopefully) just cosmetic damage after contact with the #11 TF Sport car.

We also understand that a deal has finally been brokered with Academy for them to run their fourth car at the Festival with another British GT runner, partnering Matt Nichol-Jones in the car - an entry that is over and above those officially released.

From those we spoke with at Silverstone, it was very much the case of a quick get away with a quick stop-over at base (if their logistics allowed) before passage over to France today to set up and be ready for track events which start of Wednesday.

Monday, June 11, 2018 |
New Vanatge GTE - Making its Le Mans 24Hr debut

New Vanatge GTE - Making its Le Mans 24Hr debut

Aston Martin Racing returns to the scene of its famous 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours triumph with the all-new Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which makes its first competitive appearance on the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend (16-17 June).

A year on from Jonny Adam’s dramatic late pass for the lead of the GTE Pro category that led to a glorious win for Aston Martin Racing, the team has entered two new Vantage GTEs in the 2018 event. Based on the critically-acclaimed Aston Martin Vantage road car and powered by the same 4.0-litre, V8 turbo-charged engine optimised by AMR, the Vantage GTEs are part of a 17-strong GTE Pro line-up that represents the most competitive field ever assembled for the class.

The new Vantage GTE made a solid debut in Spa-Francorchamps with both the #95 car driven by Nicki Thiim (DEN), Marco Sørensen (DEN) and three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner (GB) and the #97 machine of Maxime Martin (B), Alex Lynn (GB) and Adam (GB) finishing in the points. Following an extensive development programme that covered 35,000km over the winter, the team is now ready to give the car its toughest examination yet in the most famous race of all.

This in spite of Sørensen’s accident at the Le Mans test day, which required the team to build up a brand new chassis in a tight timeframe. Aston Martin Racing’s technicians and engineers worked around the clock in split shifts to ensure a fresh #95 ‘DaneTrain’ was completed, shaken down and ready for scrutineering just six days after work began on a new race car.

The new Vantage GTE replaces the highly-decorated normally-aspirated V8 Vantage GTE, but that doesn’t mean the old car’s hunt for Le Mans glory is over. Indeed two will compete in this year’s event. The #98 car, driven by Aston Martin Racing's reigning GTE Am champions Paul Dalla Lana (CDN), Mathias Lauda (A) and Pedro Lamy (POR), will seek to add a Le Mans class victory to its extraordinary success tally, which continued with another GTE Am win in the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa last month.

The second V8 Vantage GTE meanwhile, will be campaigned by Aston Martin’s partner team TF Sport, driven by Charlie Eastwood (IRL), Euan Hankey (GB) and Salih Yoluc (TUR).

Aston Martin Racing Team Principal Paul Howarth added: "Le Mans has already thrown up many challenges for the team to deal with this year, including the build of a brand new Vantage GTE chassis and repairing the #98 GTE Am car which was damaged during the test. I truly believe the team has demonstrated an exemplary example of teamwork and how to overcome unforeseen events. We are all now focussed on the race week and looking forward to what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive GT entries of the modern era. I have every confidence in all areas of the team that we will rise to the challenge."

Aston Martin Racing Technical Director Dan Sayers said: “Le Mans is a unique circuit just as the race is one of a kind, but we have prepared long and hard for this with a comprehensive and extensive testing programme. We were very happy with how the car ran during the test day, and our drivers reported that it behaved well through the critical sectors of the lap. So now it’s up to us to ensure it remains reliable and consistent for them to perform in the biggest race of them all. As ever, that means executing in all areas so that we leave nothing on the table, whether that be in engineering, pitstops or preparation. We’ve been working towards this point since we started testing the new car nearly a year ago and it will be a proud moment to see the new cars lined up on the grid next weekend.”

Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer David King said: "The Le Mans 24 Hours is the jewel in the crown of sportscar racing and one of the principal reasons we build racing cars is to go out and beat our rivals in this race. Le Mans provides the ultimate test of durability and performance on and off the track. We’ve already had one test of endurance, which the team passed with aplomb with all the tremendous work and dedication that went in to building a new #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE in a short time period. Now we need to go out and deliver the best results possible to reward that hard work and commitment from everybody in the weeks leading up to the race."

Source material - Aston Martin Racing
Monday, June 11, 2018 |
Silverstone 500 will be no one horse race

Silverstone 500 will be no one horse race

With all posturing and jockeying for position already being made by the British GT runners ahead of tomorrows Silverstone 500 race, all the evidence from Fridays testing and todays Free Practice and Qualifying indicate a totally open race that just about anyone could take at the flag.

Despite Championship lap records being broken in both the GT3 and GT4 classes (Nicki Thiim in the #11 TF Sport V12 Vantage GT3 taking the honours in that one) during Free Practice earlier today, that still didn't give any indication about just who were the most fastest and more consistently fast runners in either class despite the #11 TF Sport car of Thiim and Mark Farmer finishing FP1 on top and the #47 Jetstream Vantage GT3 of Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin replicating that honour in FP2 as others had kept their powder dry for the combined qualifying of this afternoon.

The biggest surprise in the GT4 class was the high running of the guesting #144 Generation AMR SuperRacing V8 Vantage GT4 of James Holder and double driving duty man Matt George as they secured the fourth fastest GT4 overall time in FP1 and the GT4 class fastest time in FP2 in the morning sessions and that came after similar performances during Friday's test!

With just a single but elongated three hour race on Sunday, Qualifying was again down to both drivers to submit their best times with the aggregate time confirming the grid positions - as usual, the amateur and professional drivers each ran in their own qualifying session in each of their respective classes.

In GT3, the RJN Nissan became the surprise as Struan Moore and new recruit Ricardo Sanchez stepped up to claim their first pole position of the season despite the best of efforts from the #11 TF Sport duo of Thiim and Farmer who finished just under a second down to the Nissan. The #47 Jetstream Vantage was very close behind the #11 after a stonking lap late on in his session from AMR factory man Martin to claim P3.

The three remaining full season GT3 Vantage's came in grouped together starting in P7 for Jonny Adam and Flick Haigh in their Optimum car, the #99 Beechdean AMR car of Andrew Howard and Darren Turner 0.2 of second behind them with the #17 TF Sport car of Derek Johnston and Marco Sorensen another 0.2 seconds behind them again in P9. The #26 Ultimate Speed car of Mike Brown and Matt Manderson was understandably way off the pace and would bring up the rear of the GT3 grid.

GT4 meanwhile was ultra competitive again with positions not really secured until the chequered flag came down at the end of the combined 20 minute session. For Academy Motorsport's Tom Wood and Jan Jonck came their best qualifying of the season to date as they overcame technical issues last time out at Snetterton to secure P2 for tomorrows race but nearly a second behind the pace setting McLaren - well done them. Not too far behind them was the teams sister Vantage GT4 car of Will Moore and Matt Nichol Jones who finished P4 overall in their #62 car who will looking for their third consecutive podium finish tomorrow.

For the #144 Generation AMR, Qualifying became not as simplistic as Free Practice as the season regulars soon upped their game to put Holder and George back down to P16 in class for the race.

A further ten minute warm up period starts the day tomorrow for the British GT field ahead of the start of the three hour race which begins at 13:10Hrs. for those not lucky enough to be at the circuit tomorrow the race will again be streamed I've via the British GT social media pages.

Photo credits - Jacob Ebrey / BeechdeanAMR / Optimum / Academy 

Saturday, June 09, 2018 |