Aston Martin Racing returns to the track this week, as the FIA World Endurance Championship heads to Mexico for its inaugural visit to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, Mexico City.
Despite stormy conditions forecast for this week’s round of the WEC, the team will be hoping for smooth sailing following its double podium success last time out at the Nürburgring.
The team sit just 8 points behind the lead in the FIA WEC GT Manufacturers trophy and both GTE Pro entries will be looking for strong results to close and surpass that gap.
Last month’s third place finish and pole position for the #95 Danish pairing of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen sees the entry poised just five points from the lead in the GTE Pro championship ahead of this week’s race.
The team’s #98 GTE Am entry of Paul Dalla Lana (C), Mathias Lauda (A) and Pedro Lamy (P) will also hope to achieve back-to-back victories, after taking the chequered flag in first place in Germany following a commanding performance.
Paul Howarth, Aston Martin Racing Team Principal commented, “Mexico is a new track to both us and the series and we’ll have plenty to learn throughout the first sessions of the race weekend. Our drivers have been busy preparing themselves both mentally and physically ahead of the second half of the season, which is particularly important here in Mexico City due to the heat and higher altitudes. We’ll be expecting a strong performance from each of them to ensure we remain in the championship hunt and continue to score strong points”.
He added, “I’ve personally been looking forward to returning to Mexico. Having competed in motorsport events here earlier in my career, I’ve always found the Mexican fans to be incredibly knowledgeable and the atmosphere unrivalled. It’s great that this round is part of the 2016 WEC calendar and we hope we put on a good show for the crowds”.
Driver Line-up - FIA WEC - 6 Hours of Mexico
#95 - Nicki Thiim (DN) & Marco Sørensen
#97 - Darren Turner (GB) & Richie Stanaway (NZ)
#98 - Paul Dalla Lana (C), Pedro Lamy (P) & Mathias Lauda (A)
The 6 Hours of Mexico begins at 13:30 (local time) on Saturday 3 September.
Source material Aston Martin Racing
Beechdean Aston Martin Racing (AMR) successfully returned to the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) podium, following a six week gap in the championship. Beechdean AMR drivers; Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Alex MacDowall raced together in a fiercely contested four hour race at Paul Ricard in France, where the action on the track was as hot as the weather.
On Saturday afternoon, Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner brilliantly took Beechdean AMR’s maiden ELMS pole position. Turner circulated the 3.642 mile Le Castellet track in a time of 1.56.285 in the 10 minute qualifying session. Beating his nearest GTE rival by over two tenths of a second.
Sunday proved to be a close encounter between the #99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE car, JMW Motorsport and Formula Racing Ferraris. Unable to make the most of a Full Course Yellow (FCY) period to pit, the Beechdean AMR team found themselves playing catch up in the second half of the race. Ending with MacDowall giving an entertaining chase in the final moments, but with the team ultimately having to settle for third.
“It’s always great to get on the podium,” stated Beechdean AMR driver and owner Andrew Howard. “Paul Ricard proved to be a tyre and fuel sensitive circuit with the hottest temperatures of the season.”
Turner, who secured the team their first pole position in the competition said, “It’s still very close with two rounds to go. We need to up our game and be as strong as we were this weekend for the last two events. Maximum attack for maximum points is what we need to focus on.”
“I’m really happy with my two stints in the race” commented Alex MacDowall. “I was flat out pushing like crazy to try and gain back the time we had lost. Third place is still a good result and we have a lot to be proud of, now we are just looking forward to Spa.”
The next round of the European Le Mans Series will take place at Spa Francorchamps on the 25th September. However the teams focus will be shifting back to the UK for the next few weeks as they look forward to the final rounds of the British GT, which will take place at Donington on the 11th of September.
Source material - Beechdean AMR
With a trio of its customer teams having collected a trio of podium finishes last weekend, this weekend sees the return of the Aston Martin Racing factory team to the track as they compete for the first time at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Making up the fifth round of the 2016 WEC championship, Mexico is also the first 'fly away' race of the mainly European based field and is another one of these race weekends that culminate with the 6 hours race taking place on the Saturday.
Aston Martin Racing return with both of their V8 Vantage GTE Pro cars as well as their single GTE Am car. The race will also be only the second time this year that both Pro cars will field a twin driver line up after #95 Dane Train secured a third place finish last time out in Germany in that format.
No driver changes are expected across any of the cars at this race although something may be held up the teams sleeve as they ready themselves to loose Richie Stanaway at the next round at the Circuit of the Americas due to his Aussie V8 commitments with the Prodrive team. With both Fernando Rees and Jonny Adam being dropped prior to the Nurburgring event over six weeks ago both will have lost out on car experience if either are later called upon for CoTA.
The #98 GTE Am car of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathia Lauda remains unchanged although there have been some reports of the car switching away from Dunlop tyres and back to Michelins. Photos posted on social media following the customary shakedown of all the cars prior to them be freighted off to Mexico still had them tagged in and liveried up with Dunlop?
As the teams prepare for the Mexico round the #95 of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen presently sits in third position on the teams championship just five points behind the leading #66 Ford GT with the #97 Darren Turner/Richie Stanaway car a further twelve points behind them in fifth.
In GTE Am the #98 Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda sits in second position in there team championship but a massive 41 points behind the leading #83 AF Corse Ferrari.
Full programme timings for the Mexico event can be found HERE
Photo credits - Adrenal Media / AMR
Darren Turner took his first pole position in the European Le Mans Series on Saturday, showing a stunning turn of pace in the #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage. Along with his Beechdean AMR team mates, Andrew Howard and Alex MacDowall, Turner then converted pole position into a podium finish, taking third place in Sunday’s ‘4 Hours of Le Castellet’ at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the South of France.
This result means that the #99 Aston Martin retains second place in the LM GTE driver’s and team’s championship, with just two races remaining.
“I was really pleased with qualifying and it was good to get my first European Le Mans Series pole position,” said Turner. “The car was absolutely perfect; so well balanced that I had the confidence to push hard and get a few good laps in.”
Andrew Howard was behind the wheel of the Aston Martin for the start of the race. Howard is the Bronze-classified driver on the #99 squad and on Sunday he had a few silver-rated drivers around him so he had a lot to do during the rather busy start that saw a lot of cars tripping over each other. He finished lap one in fifth place, down a few positions but most importantly, unscathed.
“The team ran Andrew long, as planned,” said Turner. “He did a great job to survive the start in one piece and then got his head down and got quicker and quicker through his run. He did exactly what we needed him to do and by the time the first pit stops came along we weren’t far off the lead.”
MacDowall was up next and he had a good run, gaining positions as the race ebbed and flowed as different categories of drivers took to the track. During this stint one of the Aston Martin’s bonnet catches worked loose so the bonnet was lifting slightly each time MacDowall powered down the long straight. When he pitted to hand the car over to Turner the team had its first chance to assess the problem and get it fixed.
Unfortunately a handful of extra seconds was all it took for the Aston Martin to then get blocked in by an LMP3 car in the pit lane, delaying the stop further before Turner could get on his way.
“I enjoyed my stint and I was happy with the times I could put in,” said Turner. “Obviously you have the new tyres under you at the start but I had to keep an eye on Rory Butcher in the Ferrari towards the end of my stint as he was on fresh rubber and on the attack.”
Turner kept Butcher at bay until he pitted to hand over to MacDowall for the run to the flag.
“I think all in all we lost around 15 seconds with that long pit stop,” said Turner. “That was probably the moment that cost us second place for sure and maybe even a win. The top three were within 20 seconds after four hours of racing. That’s how close the championship is.
“It’s still very close with two races to go. We need to up our game and be as strong as we were this weekend for the last two events. Maximum attack for maximum points is what we need to focus on.”
The next round of the European Le Mans Series will be held at Spa in Belgium on 25 September.
Good things come to those who wait and prepare and for the latest Aston Martin Racing Partner Team, the sweet taste of their first race win came to Miedecke Stone Motorsport earlier today at the second round of the Australian Endurance Series at Sydney Motorsports Park.
Having established themselves only six months ago Miedecke Stone AMR have flitted between Australian GT, Australian Endurance and the GT Asia Series during 2016, each time looking for base line performance information together with that little something that would give them that edge over their rivals.
Having narrowly missed out on a podium in their last outing at Okayama, Japan in the GT Asia Series the father and son driver line up were eagerly anticipating a good race at Sydney Motorsports Park for the 101 lap endurance race having had their previous endurance race ending late on with a tyre failure.
Sporting a similar livery on their #95 Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3 to what they have been racing in Asia (now affectionately named Bumblebee) the family duo eventually qualified their car third on the grid for the the 101 lap enduro.
“He absolutely killed it,” added Andrew Miedecke of his son’s performance. “I made a change to the car overnight and we went the wrong way. George could hang on but I couldn’t. We made a change at the last stop and George went out and claimed the lap record; on full tanks!”
Photo credits - Australian GT
TF Sport continued its championship challenge in style today (August 27, 2016) at Circuit Paul Ricard as they finished in a battling third position in the fourth round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup.
It was by not an easy result as early race issues dropped the #34 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 entry down the field on two occasions, before the team rallied and took the chequered flag just 8.2 seconds behind the eventual race winner.
Euan Hankey and Salih Yoluc shared the driving duties again in defence of their championship lead and it was the latter who went on to qualify the green-liveried Aston Martin in second position in the Superpole shootout.
“It’s my best result so far in qualifying,” Yoluc stated. “It was really good and now I want to give our rivals a good fight. It’s like 50 degrees in the car but you try and forget that but also we know it’s tough to survive…”
The four-hour race got underway under blue skies with Yoluc taking the first stint and battling for the race lead from the outset before ducking back in behind the leading Ferrari. News shortly followed however that Yoluc was deemed to have jumped the start and was awarded a drive through penalty.
Back on track Yoluc soon found himself trying to work his way back up the order having dropped to eighth, but unfortunately contact #66 Lamborghini saw him serve a second drive through penalty with 40 minutes complete, dropping him from third to tenth with it all to do.
No stranger to a challenge, Yoluc battled back through the field again before handing over to Euan Hankey at half-distance in third position. “I made a good start and got the lead briefly and I was surprised I got a penalty, but I haven’t seen the replay yet, but I’ve heard it was a jump, so no problem,” Yoluc said. “With the contact, I misjudged it a little as I thought he wouldn’t defend that hard. We had winning pace but with the problems, I can’t complain about third.”
Despite having pitted twice more than those around him, Hankey pushed hard with a string of fastest laps, closing the gap to just eight seconds at the chequered flag.
“It was all I could do – fight-fight-fight,” Hankey explained. “It was for my own personal enjoyment and I had some good new tyres. I’m unbelievable happy with third as it really could have been so much worse.”
Hankey’s views were reflected by TF Sport Director, Tom Ferrier.
“That was an interesting race that obviously had some highs and lows,” he said. “We made three trips through the pits compared to one for our rivals and with that it’s obviously all-but impossible to win. Still, that aside, we showed our pace as we finished so well and set fastest lap after fastest lap. We need to look at a few things but we can be happy with the podium.”
The next round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup takes place at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium on 23-24 September, 2016.
After a six week summer break the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup Series reconvened at the Circuit de Paul Ricard in southern France this weekend for what would be their fourth round of the inaugural 2016 season.
All the teams arrived at the circuit with a revised Balance of Performance to take them into the closing half of the season with the #34 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Salih Yoluc and Eaun Hankey having a 20kg 'success balance' added to their cars base weight whereas others had turbo boost and engine restrictor adjustments made in addition to weight adjustments.
TF Sport arrived at the circuit holding a single point advantage over the extremely fast SMP Racing line up in the #52 Ferrari and predictions were that the Russians would again be the force to contend with in France.
The two Free Practice sessions came and went with all teams 'doing their own thing' and it wasn't until Qualifying that true competitive pace between the teams became apparent when Yoluc put in his second best time of the meeting to secure P2 in Qualifying before improving again in Super Pole (with a circuit personal best of 1:59:00) to qualify P2 overall - just behind the #52 Ferrari for the race later in the afternoon.
Trouble was however soon to strike the #34 car, even before they had taken the green actually as Yoluc overlapped the pole sitting Ferrari at the start. Despite ultimately settling in to the remainder of the opening lap down in P3 there would be an anxious fifteen minute wait until Race Control confirmed his 'Drive Through' penalty for his jumped start.
With it being so quickly into a two hour race all was not lost as having served his penalty Yoluc was soon closing down upon those in front at a vast rate of knots.
Yoluc's second 'silly mistake' of the day came at about the forty minute mark when his hast to pass Mark Poole in the series returning #66 Barwell Lamborghini into T1, he tried to push through on the inside but instead made contact with the rear of the #66, tapping them into a race delaying spin earning himself a second drive through penalty for his troubles.
With co driver Euan Hankey stepping into the car at the mandatory stop at the mid way point there was little that he could do other than take the car back to the third position on track, a position that in hindsight seemed to be the #34's natural position in the race.
Despite clawing back time on track to the Ferrari and Porsche ahead of him time would ultimately run out before Hankey could mount any sort of challenge for position before the chequered flag finishing less than ten seconds behind the second placed Porsche.
Nobody would rue the cost of the errors on track more than the man who made them. Still relatively inexperienced from a racing point of view Yoluc's over exuberance at the start of the race certainly cost him and his team a small number of points from any potential of finishing higher on the podium than they actually did but we are sure that with Hankey's help he will learn and improve from it.
The series will now move back north in continental Europe for their penultimate round at the Spa Francorchamps circuit towards the end of September. Objective for TF Sport will simply be to finish ahead of the #52 SMP Ferrari if they are to have any chance of winning the series and its ultimate automatic entry into the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Photo credits - Adrenal Media
The Balance of Performance (BoP) for the three manufacturers competing in the LMGTE class of the 2016 European Le Mans Series has been adjusted for the first time since May and round 2 in Italy.
The Ferrari 458 Italia car weight has been increased by 5kg and now stands at 1240kg compared to 1235kg it ran at Imola and the Red Bull Ring and 5kg under the base weight of 1245kg for the car. The Porsche 911 RSR remains on 1205kg and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage also remains unchanged on 1230kg.
All three cars have had a 5 litre reduction in the size of the fuel tanks. The Porsche returns to its base capacity of 90 litres. The Ferrari’s fuel tank is now 85 litres, 5 litres less than the base capacity of 90 litres. The Aston Martin’s fuel tank will be 95 litres for Le Castellet, 5 litres less than the 100 litres it ran in Red Bull Ring but still 5 litres above the cars base capacity of 90 litres.
All other BoP adjustments remain unchanged for the weekend in France.
The 4 Hours of Le Castellet is round 4 of the 2016 European Le Mans Series and takes place on Sunday 28 August.
Nordschliefe rockies Ahmad Al Harthy and Jamie Chadwick quietly and efficiently completed another stage of the N24 licence requirements when they successfully finished the VLN 6 at the weekend.
Never really setting the timing screen on fire (that wasn't the purpose of the exercise anyway) the duo qualified down in 127th overall with a time that was over a minute beyond that of the top runners in their class. Racing in an Aston Martin Test Centre prepared V8 Vantage N24 they eventually finished in 67th position overall which is in itself a fine achievement.
We understand that they will both be back at the circuit for the extended VLN 7 race on the 3rd September where they will complete their qualification process to race a GT3 at the 24hour event next year.
On another note it was great to see that Aston Martin were again competing at the Nordschleife with their gorgeous looking Vantage GT8 where Test Centre drivers Andreas Gulden and Wolfgang Schuhbauer finished P3 in class.
Photo credits - Driver social media / VLN