Changing of the guard at Aston Martin

Changing of the guard at Aston Martin

As widely reported over the weekend in the mainstream media, today sadly saw Dr Andy Palmer officially step down from the positions of President and Group Chief Executive of Aston Martin Lagonda as part of the Groups continuing restructuring process as they deal with the global issues they face today.

Joining Aston Martin from Nissan nearly six years ago, Palmer certainly reinvigorated the iconic British marque with a new programme of highly desirable cars for both the public highway's and racetracks of the world with the new range of Vantage GT cars coming on-line from 2018 and from time to time was seen racing behind the wheel of one!!

Since then, the parent company supported Aston Martin Racing team have gone to put its new turbo charged iteration of Vantage GTE onto the top step of the podium on the world stage of the World Endurance Championship as well as claiming numerous national Championships with its customer team operations around the world since.

Whilst this decision was obviously a corporate one, one taken since AML accept a financial restructuring package from Lawrence Stroll and his consortium of backers, it is still sad to see someone who put so much into recapturing the allure and love of the brand and was still so 'contactable' to the likes of ourselves over the years of his tenure leave.

He also and of course most recently made the resources of AML available to assist the efforts of the NHS in its fight against the Corona-virus for which Dr Palmer - we thank you for everything that you and your team have achieved. We also wish you well for the future.

You will be missed like most of these messages suggest.

He will of course be replaced by 54 year old German, Tobias Moers who will take on the position of CEO in the company from the 1st August. He is presently the CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH having held similar senior roles in their parent company Daimler-AG.

Lets hope that Moers can turn the balance sheet around for Aston Martin especially in these new, extremely difficult post COVID-19 times.

Link to full AMR Press Release can be found HERE

Photo credits - Aston Martin

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 |
AMR's latest new arrivals

AMR's latest new arrivals

In this long period of no news, disappointing and bad news, it really does make a moral lifting difference to report on some superb, albeit personal news for a change.

As with every team it isn't just the individual at the front that counts but also those who's contributions and support in the background as their efforts count in more ways than one and that has been the case in the Martin and Thiim household's today with the safe delivery of two new little 'crew members' that will help keep these Aston Martin Racing Drivers from getting too restless for some real track action.

Over in Belgium Maxime Martin and his wife celebrated the safe arrival of their third child, a little girl whilst in Austria WEC team mate Nicki Thiim and his partner celebrated the safe delivery of their first child, a boy!!

Both reported that mothers and babies were doing well and both Dad's are understandilbly on 'cloud 9'.

Congratulations to you all.

Photo credits - Social Media
Sunday, May 24, 2020 |
Happy Anniversary CSJ Motorsport

Happy Anniversary CSJ Motorsport

Just under a year ago was the when it was all officially confirmed by Aston Martin Racing that they had finally filled that void in their customer racing programme in North America with the appointment of a new strategic partner to oversee all new customer racing endeavours in that region on their behalf.

Officially appointed in writing many months previous but not announced to the world by the UK team until after the 24 Hours of Le Mans in late June 2019, work had already got well underway from their base in San Antonio, Texas as CSJ Motorsport set about cementing their own business and management credentials with that of their new corporate partner in the ever expanding American GT marketplace for the first time since AMR parted ways with their previous ally in TRG-AMR some four years earlier.

For Aston Martin Martin Racing, they had already taken the decision to introduce their new turbo charged V8 Vantage GT4 into the American marketplace earlier than otherwise expected with supplying long standing AMR customer and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge (as it is now) team Automatic Racing with one example in time for the series opener at Daytona International Speedway in January 2019. That bold move by the factory at the most significant event in the US GT calendar, together with the early successes that the new car was then enjoying with their new teams over in Europe during the early stages of the 2019 season more than helped the cause of CSJ Motorsport promote and capitalise on early interest and indeed seat time to anyone who enquired.

Only weeks into their new business arrangement with AMR, Cy and Susan Jary (founder members of CSJ Motorsport) delivered their first pair of AMR Vantage GT4's to their new customers in time for the next IMSA race weekend at Watkins Glen in early July before they saw out the 2019 IMSA season with a variety of driver pairings with more than some impressive performances between them.

Although not immediately successful in terms of end of race silverware (other than a class pole for Akhil Rabindra later at Road Atlanta) despite from some excellent racing in between, success can always be measured in many ways and that reward came about towards the end of the 2019 season when the team received multiple orders for the new Vantage GT4 which had till then been somewhat limited in numbers to marketplaces outside of Europe - mainly due to the lack of capacity at their Prodrive facility in the UK.

Before years end, teams like BSport Racing and Rearden Racing had already announced their new alignment to the AMR marque and the assistance of CSJ Motorsport as they (and others) prepared for the start of their respective IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and SRO GT4 America Series for 2020.

By the time the official entry lists had been revealed for the 2020 opener at Daytona in early January, the role call had escalated to two AMR Vantage GT3's for the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Challenge (AMR supplied vehicles with CSJ support) and four GT4 Vantages - one each for new team's Cameron Racing and Kohr Motorsport and another new chassis for Automatic Racing.

Although the 24hr race certainly didn't go in favour of either Vantage GT3 (both retired before the end of the night with accident damage) it was certainly game on in the events proceeding GT4 race as both Kohr Motorsport and Cameron Racing finished in the top 10 with both Automatic racing cars also completing strong finishes. CSJ's hospitality efforts along Pit Road at Daytona also went down a storm with fans getting both access and informed conversation from those within the teams!

That hard work and determination from CSJ Motorsport was in addition to their new and expanding SRO GT4 America customer base who were also 'swarming at their door' with orders in time for their season opener at the Circuit of The America's in early March.

For this Series, the customer count had risen to an incredible eight cars, not all supplied by CSJ and not all would run at each event admittedly but that would be the number of cars that the team would need to keep race ready as the season progressed. By the time this Series had started in early March, CSJ Motorsport had already made numerous trips over to California for Rearden Racing as that team had their three new Vantage GT4's running in the SRO Winter Invitational at the Thermal Club - a trilogy of races that came with much success in class for the AMR Vantage!!

With the SRO GT4 America Series running both Sprint and Sprint X race formats again, some teams would enter each race with a fresh car whilst others would use the same car for both. Two cars from Rearden Racing, two for the Flying Lizard team and single cars for each of Rennsport 1, BSport Racing and Roberts Racing again made for some exciting racing.

Unlike the opening round of IMSA, GT4 America proved itself to be a happy hunting ground for the new Vantage GT4 as both the Flying Lizard and Rearden Racing teams enjoyed podium winning success over the opening weekend.

Clearly, there was something to like about AMR's latest creations as the American Pro-Am drivers from each series looked forward to their next rounds at Sebring and St Petersburg respectively but whilst Free Practice did actually kick off at St Pete's, the engulfing problem with the Corona-virus pandemic spreading around the globe stopped track action all around the world in a instant with St Pete's being abandoned with cars still out on track until later in the year and the cancellation of the Sebring IMSA event in its entirety.

Several other events between the two series have now also been lost due to social restrictions imposed due to the virus.

That 'emergency stop' in world events yet alone in motorsport circles has already been catastrophic for many around the world. Whilst we still wait for motor racing in North America kick start itself back into action (which it did last weekend with a class podium for Jeff Burton and his Rearden Racing at a regional event in Utah), what impact these events have had on the customer base of both CSJ Motorsport/Aston Martin Racing and the greater paddock is still yet to be seen.

In addition to Rearden Racing getting back out on track last weekend, we have also recently seen the Rennsport 1 car of Matthew Dalton and Patrick Gallagher take to the track already at Virginia International Raceway as that will be the next destination for the GT4 America Series (if able) at the beginning of July so there are still positives to be taken after all of this and that very small number of personnel at CSJ Motorsport remain buoyant as to what the future holds for them.

The initial Press Release confirming their appointment as North American agents to Aston Martin Racing used the term "a fresh start"in AMR's GT3 and GT4 customer programmes on the continent.

Whilst any deal to provide and support a further GT3 to a customer team into any of the IMSA/SRO Series remains illusive to them, CSJ Motorsport have certainly already come up trumps in the GT4 scene with an incredible twelve cars now in circulation all because of them. A thirteenth car (seen below in an commemorative Anglo/American livery) is also available for immediate delivery!

Its certainly a big thanks from us for all what the team have achieved in this first year, we can only thank them again for all their time, help and information that they have provided us since so here's looking forward to the resumption of racing in the USA!!

Happy Anniversary guys!

Photo credits - IMSA / SRO GT4 America / CSJ Motorsport / Automatic Racing / Fabian Lagunas
Friday, May 22, 2020 |
The long wait is over as an AMR Vantage GT4 claims another podium

The long wait is over as an AMR Vantage GT4 claims another podium

It appears that the long wait for competitive motor racing to begin somewhere around the world is finally over as news on social media confirms another class podium for one of the many Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's now competing over in the United States yesterday.

Well known for being a competitor in the SRO sanctioned GT4 America Series for 2020, Gentleman driver Jeff Burton and his Rearden Racing prepared AMR Vantage GT4 have again been racing this weekend in the National Auto Sport Association Utah Regional Series at the Utah Motorsport Campus - a programme that we understand that always was to run in Parallel to his new SRO commitments.

As expected, the event is heavily controlled in the wake of that States recent relaxation of control measures during this Corona-virus pandemic which has allowed the event to take place on the basis of following measures be ensured.

No spectators nor media personnel have been allowed to attend and all those permitted entry have had temperature readings taken and must wear gloves/masks/eye protection where appropriate. Only one car is permitted per garage and there will be no podium celebrations or post event BBQ as would usually be the case amongst many other things as well.

Either way - at least racing is beginning to pick itself up again where permitted and that can only be a good thing!! Oh, and congratulations on another piece of silverware guys!!!

Photo credits - Rearden Racing / GT4 America.
Sunday, May 17, 2020 |
Time passsing galleries - Part 11 AMR dominate ACO rules racing

Time passsing galleries - Part 11 AMR dominate ACO rules racing

2016 became something of a new dawn for Aston Martin Racing with a change in ACO/FIA technical regulation allowing for their venerable normally aspirated V8 Vantage GTE to be given a new lease of life against some much newer machinery as well as changes in technical partners and driver strategies.

Apart from the colours of Valero coming back for the opening round of the 2016 World Endurance Championship, the three other factory supported cars would run in the teams new darker Sterling Green and lime colour scheme. The #97 Valero car would again run with just two drivers Richie Stanaway and Fernando Rees whilst Jonny Adam would at least join them again for just Le Mans. With Stefan Mucke now with the Ford GT programme, that left Darren Turner to make up the trio of drivers with Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim aboard the #95 Dane Train whilst Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy would all come to together again aboard the #98 GTE Am entry.

Meanwhile, Andrew Howard's Beechdean Motorsport team would sign up for a full season of the European Le Mans Series with his older iteration of the normally aspirated V8 Vantage GTE with co-drivers Alex MacDowall and Darren Turner. For their season opener at Silverstone, they would be joined by the RoFGo Vantage GTE of Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall and Richie Stanaway.

Indeed, it was that race that produced the most race and post race excitement as originally both AMR's finished P2 and P3 respectively - both behind the JMW Ferrari before post race penalties took effect and the #99 Beechdean car was elevated for a race win whilst the #96 RoFGo car retained their third place despite receiving a time penalty themselves.

Using that momentum, the #99 crew then went on to secure the overall ELMS GTE crown at the first time of asking after also winning the final round of the season at Estoril. They would also enter their Vantage GTE at this years Le Mans 24Hour with new drivers Gary Hirsch and Liam Griffin driving alongside team boss Howard.

2016 became a year when the term 'balance of performance' really took a meaning in ACO GTE rules racing as the brand new Ford GT and the new Ferrari 488 became dominant forces from the word go, despite that the #95 still managed to finish on the podium at Silverstone and it would be the 'yo-yo' effect of these Bop changes that would became pivotable later in the season.

After the shenanigans at Le Mans with multiple pre-event and post Qualifying adjustments in BoP, together with the unsurprising GTE win for the new Ford GT in their anniversary year, AMR went away looking for rewards in the longer game in both classes that resulted in the #95 car of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen rightfully claiming the GTE Pro Drivers Championship after their win in Bahrain at the end of the season.

The same may have true in GTE Am for the #98 but despite five class wins and a P2, their technical DNF at Le Mans was again sadly enough for that trio to lose out on that overall crown again.

The last few days have seen more positive news coming through of national Governments and race series alike in regards to the relaxing of control measures imposed as a result of the Corona-virus pandemic. In some parts of Europe race testing has just begun again so (very much with fingers crossed) that relaxation of these measures will become more widespread around the world - all soon enough to allow some sort of race season to be had in what is left of 2020.

In the meantime, keep safe - be sensible and hygienic and just maybe that point in time will come soon enough. As with all of these gallery posts, we dedicate them to the hard work of not just the health services around the world but also the efforts of the other 'key workers' in keeping everything ticking over ready for the rest of us to pick up and push on with.

'Twas a good year!!

Keep safe

Saturday, May 16, 2020 |