Last week we learned of the #95 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE strangely testing at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk as the team continue to prepare themselves for the Le Mans 24Hr in just over three weeks time.
Today we learn that the factory team is back at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium continuing that preparatory work with at least one GTE car and at least two drivers being present. The #90 TF Sport Vantage GTE has already been publicly confirmed as being at the circuit for what appears to be a two day test with Nicki Thiim certainly cracking in a few laps in it following the cars recent service at Banbury last week. We don't now if any of Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey or Rob Bell are also there though.
We have since established that Daniel Serra has also now arrived in Belgium and that the team have joined several other WEC teams (including Ford) at Spa for what is a notifiable two day event. Judging by some of the clips of team personnel shot on social media, this test is a full factory test as the team look for performance breaks as they head into the Le Mans Test Day in 12 days time somewhat on the back foot.
This weekend sees the 45th running of the ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of the Nurburgring with around 170 cars plus scheduled to take the start of the race on Saturday 27th May.
Dubbed the Green Hell for many reasons, the nearly 26km circuit around the Nurburgring Grand Prix track and the infamous Nordschleife is no place for the faint hearted with many a championship winning driver and team coming away battered, bruised and empty handed.
In a change to last years approach, Aston Martin Racing will not have any GT3 representation at the event having previously used it as a warm up for its factory drivers for the next 24 hour on the calendar at Le Mans.
With attention, both financially and in engineering resource being focussed upon the World Endurance Championship as well as the continued development of its new for 2018 GTE car, it appears that AMR will be in attendance purely in a supporting role for their customer teams.
In slight change to the entry that completed the Qualification Race for the event last month, AMR factory drivers Darren Turner and Nicki Thiim will again support Peter Cate in the Aston Martin Vantage GT8 but they shall now be joined by R Motorsports Markus Lungstrass in place of Florian Kamelger.
Lungstrass will be no stranger to the GT8 in an endurance race as he, Turner and Kamelger raced the car this year at the Bathurst 12 Hour. With Cate also having raced the car in VLN races it is actually WEC GTE Champion Thiim who has the least amount of experience of the SP8 class car!!
Joining them on the grid shall be the #70 R Motorsport V8 Vantage GT4 (SP10 class) car of Andreas Baenziger, Florian Kamleger, Peter Leemhuis along with Markus Lungstrass who will be on double duty with his employers and the AML car.
VLN regulars Team Mathol Racing with Avia Racing return to the N24 again with a South American touch to their other familiar VLN driver line up in their #73 V8 Vantage GT4 (SP10) with Wolfgang Weber and Eric Johansson sharing with Marcos A Vazquez and Juan Manual Silva.
Completing the Aston Martin entry for the event shall be the Aston Martin Lagonda of Europe #49 V12 Vantage S with VLN regulars Heinz Jurgen Kroner, Tony Richards, David Thilenius and Wolfgang Schubauer. This car and line up featured in VLN2 and is run by the Aston Martin Test Centre team.
Track action starts this Thursday with the races first Qualifying Practice session in the evening before the second a final Qualifying run the next morning. The top 30 shoot out takes place Friday afternoon before the green flag for the 24hour at 14.00hrs on Saturday.
Finally, and if recent weather forecasts are to be believed then this weekend may just turn out quite nice!
Photo credits - AMR / VLN / Mathol Racing
Round two of the 2017 European GT4 Series Southern Cup took 31 cars to the historical town of Pau in south-western France for the FFSA's annual Grand Prix of Pau double header, with a night and then daytime race taking place for the GT4 series over last weekend.
As full season entries, both the Belgium team Street Art Racing and British team Generation AMR SuperRacing attended with their respective driver line up of Eric Cayrolle with Arno Santamato and Matt George and James Holder.
The #117 Street Art Racing car definitely had the advantage over the Generation Car with Cayrolle firstly originating from the town and then he and co driver Santamato also having raced French national series racing at the circuit before whereas for the #44 Generation AMR car - it would be there first racing experience of the circuit!
As expected the #117 car was the faster of the two AMR's and during Q1 Cayrolle entered the sixth quickest time of the day whilst the #44 with James Holder behind the wheel was still coming up to speed in P29. During Q2 and with the drivers changed the gap between then was cut with the #117 still having the edge in P14 but with Matt George just a bit further back in P16.
Race 1 would make all the drivers earn their keep with a twilight start finishing in complete darkness around only a partially lit circuit but time was soon lost to a confused, false start and then a quick Safety car in the opening laps.
Cayrolle would consolidate their higher starting position whilst Holder would initially gain places as the pit window opened near the half hour mark. With Santamato now in the #117 the car did see out the pit stop cycle in first but a pit stop time transgression quickly damped any ideas of success for them.
Indeed, similar misfortunate was to befall the #44 with George have to make a second pit stop due to a high oil temperature indication.
That lead to disappointing finish for both cars with Santamato finishing P14 with the #44 the last of the runners down in P23.
More was hoped for from Sunday's lunchtime start for race 2 but more drama was to impact on the race of many cars right from the start. The first incident was at the end of the formation lap and before half of the grid had even crossed the line when a Ginetta made substantial contact with a McLaren only just behind the AMR's calling for the race's first Safety Car intervention.
Then, and only on the first racing lap after that (lap 4) did the race take a premature end for the #117 - whilst running wide around one off the hair pins a BMW collided heavily with the AMR's front offside corner damaging the steering and suspension beyond repair.
George had managed to hold station in the #44 by the car entered the pits for its compulsory stop towards the end of the pit window, handing over the car to Holder in P16. After the pit window had closed the race descended into a period of anarchy with multi incidences around the circuit leading to cars in the armco, cars in the tyre walls and pieces of bodywork flying everywhere.
Holder had managed to drive his way through this chaos up to a point where a Porsche Cayman tried to force their way past at the sweeping hairpin at turn 9 spinning the Aston (fortunately) just nose first up the grass bank and into the side of the armco at least allowing him to rejoin and finish albeit in P20.
Despite the result it was still a great spectacle to watch. The series will reconvene Dijon towards the end of June for Round 3 out of 6.
Photo credits - European GT4
CMRT Eurasia today (May 21, 2017) claimed class victory to continue a run of four straight podiums in the Am-AM class of the Blancpain GT Asia Series.
Once again fielding the #69 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with James Cai and Kenneth Lim, the duo qualified in third position for the first race of the weekend and despite stiff competition at Chang International Circuit, maintained position to the flag.
The second race proved to be even better for the all AM line-up, qualifying third once again but as rivals ran into difficulties, there were no such issues as they took the victory by a margin of four clear laps.
The win moves Cai and Lim to the top of the championship standings with 70 points, two clear of the nearest rival.
“We’ve had a great weekend here at Buriram,” explained CMRT Eurasia Director Martin Quick. “Both drivers enjoyed competitive races and above all had a great deal of fun on track and that’s what it is all about in this class.
“We had the double podium in Malaysia and now we have another one here as well as a class victory so it really couldn’t be a whole lot better.”
The next round of the Blancpain GT Asia Series takes place at Suzuka, Japan 24-25 June.
Source material - Eurasia Motorsport
Photo credits - Blancpain GT
Aston Martin Lagonda's Director of Special Projects, David King had one of his wishes realised today after his departments Vulcan super car creation was finally able to take its first laps around the infamous Nordschleife circuit.
Despite the talents of AMR's Darren Turner being behind the wheel, todays whether conditions around the circuit kept the beast under control so his further wish of lap record seeing broken were 'washed away'. Better luck next time chaps.
Also from the top picture you will see that another creation from David King's department has been liveried up ready for its next outing at the ADAC Zurich 24H from the Nordschleife that starts next week. Again, AMR driver Darren Turner features in that car alongside AMR team mate Nicki Thiim with Peter Cate and Marcus Lungstrass (who replaces the originally stated Florian Kamelger).
Must say that it does look rather pleasing to the eye!
Finally, and most galling for us is that we find out today that the AMR #95 car tested at Snetterton yesterday (driver(s) unknown at this point) in a state of either pre or post Le Mans test rebuild from the Spa round of the WEC.
Photo credits - Aston Martin / Social media
With the start of the Australian Endurance Championship just another week away, it seems that we may be seeing fewer Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3's that what we have perhaps become used to.
Firstly, it appears that series promoter Tony Quinn has parted company with his own V12 Vantage GT3 that he raced for most of the 2016 Australian GT and Endurance Championships in its Darrell Lea livery before swapping to his McLaren 650S at the end of last year.
We believe that we know who the new owner is but we shall leave any announcements of its future racing plans in their capable hands.
Secondly, it appears that fellow AMR runners, the Miedecke Stone Motorsport team may also only partake in a much reduced Australian Endurance Championship entry as they remain focussed on a possible Pro Pro entry for next years Bathurst 12Hr.
Speaking with George Miedecke earlier this week, he suggested that it is likely that the team would return to the championship only at the Sydney Motorsport Park 501 event in August - the race that he and his co-driving father, Andrew Miedecke won last year.
Meanwhile, the team have also secured another new AMR V8 Vantage GT4 that is being sent across to them about now, a car that is in addition to the two used platforms that they acquired for clients late last year/early this year as they look to expand the marque in the still developing Australian and Far East arena.
One of those cars is due to be raced within a State championship next weekend with Andrew Miedecke co driving.
Photo credits - Australian Endurance
Two Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's will make the long trek down towards the Pyrenees for the second round of the FFSA European GT4 Series Southern Cup and the 76th running of the Pau Grand Prix.
Taking in the challenges of the incredibly tight 2.76km street circuit will be the #44 car of Generation AMR SuperRacing with James Holder and Matt George again behind the wheel as well as the #117 Street Art Racing car of Eric Cayrolle and Arno Santamto as well as thirty other GT4 cars from six manufacturers.
Between the AMR runners you might have to favour the #117 car as Cayrolle comes from Pau and neither Brit in the #44 have active racing experience of the street circuit although George has 'spannered' there on many occasions before.
With neither AMR car also fairing as well as they had hoped at the series opener at Nogaro a month ago both ail be hoping that the surprises that any street circuit can throw up can work in their favour.
"Its a very daunting place but we have confidence in the car and it will be great fun and experience to race on such a circuit. Then of course the first race goes into the night so that will be an extra challenge" Matt George told us earlier this week.
The opening round of the 2017 China GT Championship at Beijing's Goldenport Motor Park saw Aston Martin Racings Chinese Partner and Prodrive supported team, China Equity Racing come away with a brace of third positions from the two races.
Tian Xu and Yang Meng Qiao in their #77 V8 Vantage GT4 finished third behind the first and second placed McLaren 570S and KTM X-Bow in both races despite setting the class pole time for race two.
Aston Martin Racing runners CMRT Eurasia will be looking for more silverware from the next round of the inaugural Blancpain GT Series Asia in their V12 Vantage GT3 as rounds 3 & 4 take place this weekend from the Chang international Circuit in Thailand.
The CMRT car of Kenneth Lim and James Cai is again the sole AMR representative in the series racing in the AM class as they all look to emulate the double podium finsih in the first two races of the season last month.
Saturday and Sunday each feature a one hour race.
Photo credits - CMRT Eurasia