AMR looking for strong debut in the desert of Bahrain

AMR looking for strong debut in the desert of Bahrain

Aston Martin Racing embarks on its final race of the 2019 calendar year with a point to prove as the Vantage GTE makes its desert debut in the BAPCO 8 Hours of Bahrain.

The Danish crew of the #95 entry, Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen, have set the pace in the previous two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship GTE Pro category. Having won the 6 Hours of Fuji in Japan, they were all set for a famous back-to-back success in China last month until they suffered a late-race puncture while leading comfortably.

“We head into the final race of the year with a point to prove,” said Thiim, “We should be in the lead of the championship with two race wins already, but we have an opportunity to correct that situation in Bahrain. There is no reason for us to think the car will be any less competitive than it was in Asia, where we set the pace, and with a clean run we have a great chance to fight. I’ve said before that GTE Pro and WEC is the best GT racing in the world and I can’t wait to go and fight to end 2019 on a high”

The championship returns to Bahrain after a year’s absence for the fourth round of WEC, which runs from summer-to-summer, and as the series reaches the halfway stage it is also racing to a new 8-hour format for the first time. It’s a key round of the championship because it is worth 1.5-times the points for the top nine finishers and therefore has the potential to change the complexion of the championship fight.

The #97 crew of Alex Lynn (GB) and Maxime Martin (BEL) are hoping that it will also trigger a change in fortune. Fast all year, the duo have finished on the podium in every race, but the hit ratio could have been even higher had it not been for a run of badly-timed full-course yellows and rain showers that compromised their strategy.

“We’ve not always been lucky so far this season,” said Lynn. “But I think the fact that we have finished third in every race, points to the speed and consistency of the #97 and it feels like it is only a matter of time before we stand at the top step.”

The Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE is already a winner in its debut GTE Am campaign, thanks to back-to-back victories for the customer TF Sport team and their driver line-up of Salah Yoluc (TUR), four-time British GT Jonny Adam (GB) and recently-signed works driver Charlie Eastwood (IRL). But the factory version has been a contender everywhere, despite having had its race compromised in each of the first three events through no fault of its own. The #98 crew of Paul Dalla Lana (CDN), multiple 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Darren Turner (GB) and works driver Ross Gunn (GB), have charged back into podium contention at both the 4-Hour races, at Silverstone and in the most recent round in China where they finished third. It means that Dalla Lana returns to the scene of his 2017 FIA WEC GTE Am title triumph determined to win, even with the 5kg success ballast the car will carry into the race.

“We have been incredibly unlucky so far, but that’s racing,” said Dalla Lana. “That being said, our team is gelling well in our first year together and we’re learning more about the car’s potential all the time. Hopefully we can get a clear run at the start this time and find out what we can do as a team with a clean race.”

Aston Martin Racing Team Principal Paul Howarth said: “We’re reaching the midway stage of the championship and it’s clear that we have a competitive and race-winning package in both classes. It’s particularly critical for us to amass the maximum amount of points available in this race where it is worth 1.5-times the normal amount. Through this crucial mid-phase of the season, it’s essential for us to establish a foothold in the championship and carry that momentum into the US double-header of COTA and Sebring.”

The BAPCO 8 Hours of Bahrain begins at 15:00 local time on Saturday, 14 December.

Source material - AMR 
Thursday, December 12, 2019 |
Team Virage venture into DTM's new Trophy Series

Team Virage venture into DTM's new Trophy Series

Great to see Barcelona based Team Virage offer seats for the new for 2020 DTM Trophy Series with one of their Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's

Announced only about a month ago, this new series for GT4 based machinery will throw many 'norms' that other GT series use away and go for something different with both driver rankings nor operate the SRO's own balance of performance levels being operated.

Operating under a two Free Practice sessions, Qualifying and two thirty minute races on both Saturday and Sunday format, this series will feature prominantly on the DTM support package instead of their outdated Audi Seyffarth Trophy across seven of their race weekends next year.

Having run this season in parts in both the GT4 South Europe Series and the 24H Series, the team will be hoping to entice the right young drivers with a winning driver under 22 years old ultimately being offered a DTM test drive at the end of the season.

Prospective drivers with budget please contact for season proposal, with winter test dates also available.

Photo credits - Team Virage
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 |
AMR news coming out of the desert of Bahrain

AMR news coming out of the desert of Bahrain

The realisation of first having won the Aston Martin BRDC Autosport Young Driver of the Year at the weekend as well as the BRDC's Chris Bairstow Trophy the next day has presumably had little chance to settling in for winner Johnathon Hoggard before he picks up another spoil from his title winnings this weekend in Bahrain.

Part of his prize for winning the Aston Martin sponsored BRDC Autosport Award is a test within one of Aston Martin Racing's V8 Vantage GTE's at the Rookie Test after this weekends fourth round of the World Endurance Championship.

Originally not being listed upon the entry, both AMR Vantage GTE Pro class cars now appear on said entry list (with all six Pro cars now being in attendance) and features a list a familiar sports car and tin top drivers as well as all four AMR factory Pro drivers aboard the second car.

LMP2 racer Gabriel Aubrey, Garage 59 and Gulf Racing WEC driver Andrew Watson and brother of Marco Sorensen, Lasse Sorensen join Hoggard aboard the #95 car (subject to licence requirements) for Sundays, five hour test.

Joining that news out of Bahrain today is news that Paul Dalla Lana will indeed be rejoining his former duo of WEC co-drivers in Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda in an Aston Martin Racing factory supported Vantage GT3 at next months IMSA Daytona 24.

That trio will be joined by Ross Gunn at Daytona as the Canadian businessman continues his parallel racing commitments in both Daytona and possibly Bathurst - races that he has previously contested with both Mercedes AMG and Ferrari hardware. This trip would be Gunn's only second racing visit to the USA having raced with Automatic Racing and Akhil Rabindra in the Michelin Pilot Challenge at VIR but his first appearance in the headline 24hr event on that side of the pond..

Then, there are the rumours of a certain Dane featuring within the new Heart of Racing AMR GTD driving squad at Daytona as well - we shall await confirmation on that one before jumping to conclusions!! We think that that would be his first visit to Daytona as well!

Happy days..........!!!

Photo credits - BRDC / AMR

Wednesday, December 11, 2019 |
Optimum reveal their Gulf 12Hr line up

Optimum reveal their Gulf 12Hr line up

With their car already hopefully deposited safely somewhere around the paddock area of the Yas Marina race track in Abu Dhabi, Wakefield based Optimum Motorsport have today confirmed their driver line up that will take on this years Gulf 12Hr in one of their Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's.

Having debuted with both the team and car at the final round of the Bute GT Cup Championship at Snetterton in late October sees leadership consultancy executive David Holloway return for another, this time extended venture out in his new race car of choice with two new team mates.

Having tested with the team back and the car at Donington Park earlier this year sees accomplished BMW M3 Cup and BMW M4 Club Enduro racer David Whitmore take that monumental leap up from tiptops to GT4 racing for the first time as he follows his dream to race in the British GT Championship.

He will be joined by an experienced GT4 from the new SRO GT4 America Sprint and Sprint X Series in the form of Flying Lizards driver Michael Dinan. The New Yorkers last two race seasons have been made up of GT4 racing in what was the old Pirelli World Challenge Series in an Audi R8 GT4 in 2018 as well as a Porsche Cayman in Sprint X in the new SRO rules series this year where he and his Pro driver claimed three podium finishes.

Track action will begin for the thirty five entered cars on Thursday evening with the first three hour Free Practice before three further but shorter Free Practice sessions on Friday before Qualifying.

The first 6 hours of racing begins at 09:30hrs local on Saturday morning before a short interlude in the afternoon before the second half of the race is raced out to an aggregated conclusion starting at 17:30hrs local.

The Optimum AMR GT4 is of course joined by the Generation AMR SuperRacing Vantage GT4 of drivers Matt George, James Holder and Steve Tandy.

Photo credits - Flying Lizards / Generation AMR

Tuesday, December 10, 2019 |
AMR names recognised in Award night season

AMR names recognised in Award night season

Two prestigious organisations in the world of motorsport held their annual awards night presentations both last night and today with some well known faces within the Aston Martin Racing family again coming out on top.

Firstly, we had the Autosport Awards take place last night at Grosvenor House in London where the freshly sponsored Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year was announced from the final four which included Jamie Chadwick.

Sadly for her she didn't win that highly accolade but at least she didn't have to wait too long before her driving talents and successes of this season got formally recognised.

This time taking place earlier today at the London Marriott in Grosvenor Square, the British Racing Drivers Club awarded Chadwick their Special Achievement Award to the 21 year old for her successes in the W Series, her role within the Williams F1 team and her general raising of awareness and participation for women within sport.

Next up to receive their thoroughly deserved award for another incredible achievement on track was Aston Martin Racing Factory and TF Sport Partner Team driver, Jonny Adam who accepted his John Cobb Memorial Trophy award via video link.

Whilst Adam was away on his delayed honeymoon with Rachel, TF Sport team boss was fortunately on hand to accept the trophy on Adam's behalf from Christian Horner but also to accept his own award in the form of the Nigel Moore Trophy for his teams 'most meritorious performance' in international motor racing during 2019. That success extended from helping Adam gain has fourth British GT title, another in the British GT GT4 Championship through to overall class wins in the World Endurance Championship.

Congratulations to you all.

Photo credits - BRDC / Social media 

Monday, December 09, 2019 |
Still looking for that ideal Christmas gift?

Still looking for that ideal Christmas gift?

Ever puzzled what to buy your motorsport fan friend as a Christmas present, then look no further than the opening pages of and you will soon come up with an idea to two.

Firstly, we have Barcelona based Team Virage offering one of their two recent Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4 acquisitions up for sale. Having taken possession of two such cars mid way into 2019, the team had hoped to enter both cars with long standing team customers in regional series including the SRO sanctioned GT4 South Europe Series.

From what we have seen, they have only managed to enter both cars for just one round with the main stay customers (Freddie Hunt and CO Jones as reported last week) now looking towards the teams other platform of motor racing in LMP3 so this car is now presumably surplus to their requirements.

Full details of their listing can be found HERE

The next new offering took us a little by purpose and lies in the form of the Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 as used this season by Ollie Wilkinson in both the British GT Championship and GT Open Series.

Operated out of the Optimum Motorsport workshop, Wilkinson went on to clinch the British GT GT3 Silver Cup prize will co driver Bradley Ellis whilst securing podium finishes, including an overall race win whilst under the tutorage of AMR factory drivers Darren Turner and Jonny Adam.

There is obviously a story yet to be confirmed behind the reason for this sale - we are certainly not going to pretend to know what it is all about but we do understand that matters may become a little clearer before the end of the year by which time we expect to have had an announcement from Wilkinson.

Full details of this Christmas cracker can be found HERE

Photo credits - Team Virage
Sunday, December 08, 2019 |
Scheibner returns to DMV GTC to defend his crown in his V12 AMR

Scheibner returns to DMV GTC to defend his crown in his V12 AMR

Good news for lovers of the venerable V12 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 in Germany next season as the 2019 DMV GTC overall Champion, Timo Scheibner will be returning with his racing example to defend his crown next year.

Next season, the German GT series steps up a gear and supports the DTM Series as it travels across Germany visiting race tracks at Hockenheim, Nurburgring, Lausitzring and the Norisring (with a little visit across the border to Monza as well). The series has become an attractive destination for many owner/drivers of former GT3/GT4 machinery no longer in OEM homologation with larger series and operates a very cost effective form of racing together with a fully streamed race meeting.

Announcing his commitment to the Series from the Essen Motorshow this weekend, Scheibner (centre of photo with trophy) confirmed that his Schaller Motorsport prepared AMR will again compete in Class 2 in the Series two - 30 minute and one 60 minute race formats.

The Series starts at Hockenheim at the end of March

Photo credits - DMV GTC

Sunday, December 08, 2019 |
And into the desert of Bahrain looking for more GTE success

And into the desert of Bahrain looking for more GTE success

The conclusion of next weekends fourth round of the 2019-20 World Endurance Championship from Bahrain will mark the final race of 2019 and the halfway point of the Championships first full winter season of running as all four Aston Martin Racing runners look to consolidate their championship position as they head into their short winter New Year break.

Ahead of that of course is the small matter of an incredible eight hours of racing around the 3.4 mile Hermann Tilke designed circuit for the 31 car provisional entry for this event. So far the Championship has just faced four hours of racing at Silverstone, six hours at Fuji before another four hours in Shanghai so obviously, Bahrain marks a larger demand on both man and machine so what has been required so far this season.

Last time out in Shanghai gave us a near 'full house' of podium finishes for the two GTE Pro and GTE Am cars of Aston Martin Racing and TF Sport - unfortunately a puncture for the #95 Pro car of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim swallowed up their then convincing race lead and then some to rob them of a probable class win. The sister #97 Pro car of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn benefitted from a post race exclusion from the class winning Ferrari to ultimately claim the third step in that class whilst in GTE Am, that class was dominated by the #90 TF Sport V8 Vantage GTE of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam.

Starting from fourth on the grid, one of his best ever opening double stints from Yoluc (earning himself great acclaim in the process) as well as a faultless run in to the flag from both Eastwood and Adam and despite a last gasp splash and dash just before the end was enough for the #90 crew to claim their second, consecutive win of the season to come away from China with the GTE Am Championship lead.

Their performance in China was only marginally better than that of the #98 Paul Dalla Lana, Darren Turner and Ross Gunn car which was quickly consigned to the distant rear of the pack on the opening lap when Dalla Lana was spun around at turn 1 on lap 1 by a errant competitor. A progressive battle to first catch the pack and then pass their class rivals to finish P3 by the end of the four hours of racing was nothing short of miraculous and their resulting podium very well deserved.

After the results of their opening three rounds, we have the #90 TF Sport car leading GTE Am with the #98 AMR prepared car 24.5 points behind in P4 whilst in GTE Pro the two AMR cars presently rest in P3 (#95) and P4 (#97) but just 17 points behind the class leading Porsche crew.

All of that is obviously history as eight hours around a desert race track and into the night is a totally different perspective from what has been faced so far, not least because of the further technical restriction placed on both the GTE Pro cars and the continued success penalties being applied to the #90 car.

Published just last week, the FIA Endurance Committee has confirmed a minor fuel reduction for both Pro cars (taking their maximum fuel capacity down from 98 litres to 97 litres) whilst a similar reduction has also been applied to both Am class cars taking their maximum capacity down from 95 litres to 94 litres. In addition to that, the #90 car has been levied with the maximum 'success' ballast permissible under the new rule set which will now see that car run with a minimum weight of 1292kg (45kg heavier than its season start homologated weight), 40kg heavier than the #98 AMR entry and also as the heaviest car in the class.

Speaking with team boss Tom Ferrier as he helped one of his British GT customers test at Snetterton last week, he confirmed that tyre degradation and management would again be the key to the race as like Shanghai, the track surface and moving sand across it would soon penalise any over exuberance with the throttle pedal. Then there is of course the increase in drive time for all drivers with only two drivers in Pro, each will effectively be racing their own Silverstone or Shanghai race.

Looking at the weather for Bahrain over the next week, light rain is actually being forecasted until midweek before 'normal' conditions resume as track activity begins on Thursday. The start of the 8Hrs of Bahrain will begin at 15:00Hrs local (GMT + 3hrs).

After this event the FIA WEC will be again conducting their annual "Rookie Driver Test" - none of the AMR cars have so far been listed as conducting any such test but that may change over time?

After Bahrain, we can then start to look forward to the second half of the season with races at CoTA, Sebring, Spa and of course Le Mans!!!

Photo credits - AMR / TF Sport / Adrenal Media

Saturday, December 07, 2019 |
Optimum confirm first name for British GT 2020 return

Optimum confirm first name for British GT 2020 return

Having finished the final race of the 2019 British GT Championship at Donington Park back in September under a cloud of an unfortunate DNF, its great to see Conner O'Brien today announce his intentions to return to the Championship, again with Optimum Motorsport and one of their Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's to see out 'unfinished business' in the GT4 Championship.

Having been partnered with another GT4 debutant in Jack Butel aboard what was then a brand new and unquantified new AMR race car, the young pair of Silver Cup drivers went onto finish P12 in the Silver Cup class having endured a 'difficult' second half of the season in the Championship despite a confidence boosting, podium finishing run out in the GT Open Cup at Silverstone with AMR young gun Charlie Eastwood.

With entries for the 2020 British GT Championship opening at the start of October, we have heard how entry numbers are already approaching the reduced 2020 headcount but todays announcement sees O'Brien join a line up now confirmed in just six other cars so far. The remainder of the entries submitted to the SRO are (as we understand it) simply provisional slots made by the team in the anticipation of further customer interest moving forward before the close of entries early next year.

Commenting on todays news, O'Brien said “I enjoyed last year a great deal and while the start was tricky with the new car, we made great gains as the season progressed. It was superb to have the fantastic support from Aston Martin Racing and the Academy was so helpful. We showed what we could do in qualifying at both Spa and Donington, so we take the year of experience into the coming season with the aim of regular podium finishes.”

Welcoming back the long standing Optimum Motorsport customer for another season with the Wakefield based team, team boss Sahun Goff added “We’re delighted to be returning to the British GT Championship with two GT4s. We have a proven championship winning record in this series and we are now entering our third season as an Aston Martin customer team. It is now a proven winning package; so, we head into the series expecting to be challenging for the title. Connor has developed with us, first in Ginettas and is now making great strides in this championship. I’m sure 2020 will see a strong campaign from him.”

With more driver news clearly still to be confirmed there is still much to look forward to before the opening round of the season at Oulton Park in mid April 2020.
Friday, December 06, 2019 |
AMR Vantage GTD now confirmed for IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship in 2020

AMR Vantage GTD now confirmed for IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship in 2020

There can surely be no better Christmas present to the many Aston Martin Racing fans over in the United States today (as well as the rest of the world in fact) to see a new AMR Vantage GTD (GT3) finally get confirmed with the Florida based Heart of Racing Team to run in next years IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship.

First muted in the mainstream motorsport media only few weeks ago, the team has today formally confirmed their new Race Partner status with the Banbury based team in a deal that also provides them on-site technical assistance as well as 'works' drivers for the 2020 season that starts at the Roar before the 24 in less than four weeks time.

This announcement not only sees the return to the IMSA Championship of the team but also Aston Martin Racing as a fully paid up OEM in the US, the first time since the days of the factory supported TRG-AMR over three years ago and the last visit of an AMR to Daytona since 2017.

Racing under The Heart of Racing banner, the team will be lead by former team racer Ian James and Seattle businessmen Gabe Newell and Yahn Bernier under a continuing arrangement of raising much needed funds for the Seattle Children's Hospital - an organisation that has so far raised over $6 million dollars in charitable contributions.

The team is due to make its public debut with the car and 'freshly announced ' driver line up at the opening test sessions of the Roar before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway on the 3rd January 2020.

“The Heart of Racing program has always been an inspiring environment to be in for everyone involved,” said James. “This is in addition to the very compelling fund-raising element. Gabe and Yahn’s support and vision is incredible and I’m delighted they decided to bring the program back to the IMSA paddock full-time. We have a close-knit crew, awesome full-time drivers to announce, and a great manufacturer partner. All the ingredients are in place.”

David King, President of Aston Martin Racing went further to confirm that "the United States obviously represents a huge market for Aston Martin Racing and as such it is fantastic to see Heart of Racing return to IMSA with one of our Vantage GT3s. The success of the new Vantage in its first year of customer racing means that we will see more exciting programs extend our reach further around the world next year, and we very much expect Heart of Racing to be a key pillar in our overall US motorsport strategy in 2020."

It's certainly a 'good luck' from us!

Source material - Heart of Racing
Photo credit - AMR

Friday, December 06, 2019 |
Picking up the pieces from recent weeks

Picking up the pieces from recent weeks

It was very remiss of us to let our guard down over the last week or so by not giving ourselves time to report upon the plethora of racing and testing activity of many Aston Martin Racing factory and customer enterprises around the world, so here's us just catching up with a few things but not necessarily in particular date order!

A couple of weekends ago we had IMSA present its fifth Historic Sportscar Racing Classic from the Daytona International Speedway with four cars from the Aston Martin Racing stable - two in both the GT3 and GT4 classes competing with some great results coming out of the multi race format that this meeting adopts around the infield and banked circuit of Daytona.

The #27 AMR Vantage GT3 from GT Racing came back with some great results including an overall race win for their drivers Marc and LP Montour whilst Automatic Racing also gained some silverware with a P2 for their team boss David Russell with their IMSA series drivers Ramin Abdolvahabi, and Steve Davison aboard their normally aspirated V8 Vantage GT4.

Davison and Abdolvahabi also raced another of the team's Vantage N24's at the meeting including a double stint for these guys in the Group G Classic 24 3 hour race. For Macro Werner and Oliver Mathai, the event wasn't so productive for them and their #007 AMR Vantage GT3 ("Billie") with only one finish out of their four allotted races.

Last week also saw the Aston Martin Racing factory team take to the race track of Motorland Aragon in northern Spain for some more Michelin tyre testing - again with the Beechdean AMR 'donor' GT3 car converted into GTE form.

Testing over two days it seems that the test went well despite the chilly looking conditions for the teams World Endurance Championship drivers Marco Sorensen and Alex Lynn ahead of the next round of that series in Bahrain next month with a gruelling eight hours of racing to look forward to.

Staying in Spain for a bit, Team Virage again employed the teaching services of Pedro Lamy as they used the talents of the Portuguese driver to coach their inexperienced designate LMP3 driver line up of Freddie Hunt and CO Jones as they seek to step up from GT4 racing to prototypes in the near future.

This is not the first time that the time have used Lamy with him racing with the team at Barcelona in the 24H Series in the early weeks of receiving their new AMR V8 Vantage GT4's from the Prodrive factory.

Then, at the end of last week came the second on-track footage of the new Aston Martin Valkyrie, again from Silverstone and their factory's new proving ground and track in the infield of the Grand Prix circuit where Darren Turner had apparently enjoyed four days of interaction and testing with the new hyper-car in the making.

With torrential rain unfortunately blighting the filmed demonstration runs along the straights, even those few seconds of footage blessed us with the uncharacteristic sound of a normally aspirated V12 being thrashed within an inch of its life.

Thankfully the rain eased to allow Aston Martin to produce this sensational footage available HERE

Regular Aston Martin High Performance Development Driver Chris Goodwin was over in South Africa at the time, racing in the final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge with his team Garage 59 and their AMR Vantage GT3. Having endured their unfortunate demise early on in that race, Goodwin did message on social media that "he should have stayed at home to drive the Valkyre!"

Finally moving into this week, yesterday saw TF Sport return to our 'local' at Snetterton for some more GT4 sampling from another pair of young drivers looking forward at moving up another notch or two in the career ladder. Again unfortunately for them, extremes of winter weather at the Norfolk circuit prevented these two from fully demonstrating what they could really do with the teams British GT GT4 winning chassis of Ash Hand and also AMR Academy winner Tom Canning.

Then, because of the bad weather of Thursday the team elected to stay on at the circuit today and make use of the winter clear skies and sunshine as they let Mark Farmer put in a few more laps aboard his #2 AMR Vantage GT3 as he evaluated another return to the British GT Championship.

Happily willing to talk and very openly self critical about his performances in the car and Championship last year, he explained how he had lost confidence in himself even before the season had started after an unfortunate incident in testing and how he had considered walking away from it all mid season. 

With Farmer telling us that he was still about 50/50 about returning for 2020, there were certain enticements on offer for him to do so with a new Pro driver in the offering after his relationship with his last Pro driver deteriorate during his 'difficulties' of last season.

Not even being December yet, team boss Tom Ferrier wouldn't be drawn of any potential line ups in any of his cars for 2020 as his mind was already fully on maintaining the team's new found momentum in the WEC as they prepare to fly out to the final round of 2019 in Bahrain early next month.

Unconfirmed reports in mainstream motorsport media suggest that AMR have secured their first Vantage GT3 (GTD) involvement in next years IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship with the Heart of Racing team based Seattle. We hope that that is true but we will have to wait and see maybe as early as the Roar before the 24 early next year!

Finally catching up with all of these loose ends, today we saw the finale of the Challenge Bathurst for the Pirelli Super-Sprint class around the iconic circuit of Bathurst in Australia.

Nothing special about that except for the fact that this event was the first time a new AMR Vantage GT3 had raced in Australia in the capable hands of Gentleman driver and Aston Martin aficionado Tony Quinn.

Having taken delivery of his GT3 in time for the British GT round at Spa Francorchamps earlier this year, it was originally logged that he would be using his older and normal aspirated V12 Vantage for the event but photos prove that it was indeed his new, or at least another available chassis that he competed with. 

M2 Competition had told us just this week that the car that he raced with Darren Turner at Spa was still with them in Europe!?!?

At the conclusion of this two day invitation only event, Quinn eventually finished P11 out of 26 runners with a time nearly six seconds off Pro driver Ben Barnicoat's record breaking time in the McLaren 720s.  

PS - don't forget to watch Sky F1 this weekend as they screen they production of both Martin and Alex Brundle as they raced an AMR Vantage GT4 around the Nordschleife earlier this year in a VLN Series race.

Photo credits - social media / GT Racing / Team Virage / Go Motorsport Management / Jacob Ebrey

Friday, November 29, 2019 |
Announcing Prodrive Legends

Announcing Prodrive Legends

Not content with still building some of the most competitive, cutting edge motorsport vehicles of today, Prodrive now look to bolster the ever increasing historic racing scene with the creation of their new Legends operation from the Banbury facility to help support those who race their cars from its previous three decades of manufacturing.

"Prodrive is seeing a growing demand for its historic race and rally cars and has launched Prodrive Legends, a new operation that is dedicated to the authentication, restoration and support of these cars.

The creation of Prodrive Legends is a direct response to a significant rise in requests from vehicle owners to verify the provenance and then restore race and rally cars Prodrive has constructed over the last three decades. There are also an increasing number of opportunities to race historic competition cars and a dramatic rise in values, especially for vehicles that have won high-profile events, fuelling the market for historic cars.

Since its formation in 1984, Prodrive has built more than 1,100 race and rally cars, from the first Porsche 911 SC RS to the latest Aston Martin Vantage GT cars. These cars have won titles across a range of motorsport disciplines, from World Rally titles for Subaru with Colin McRae, Richard Burns and Petter Solberg, to world sports car and Le Mans titles with Aston Martin and Ferrari; and British Touring Car Championships with BMW and Ford.

“Many of these cars are now appreciating classics with immense value to their passionate owners,” says Paul Howarth, head of motorsport operations. “With the formation of Prodrive Legends, owners can now bring the cars home to the same company – and even many of the same people – who originally designed and built them and took them to multiple wins.”

The programme, which only covers Prodrive vehicles, includes: a ‘fixed price’ authentication service that will verify whether a chassis is a genuine Prodrive car; factory specification engine rebuilds in Prodrive’s new powertrain centre; and whole-vehicle work from servicing and race preparation to ground-up restorations to the original Prodrive specification.

Over the years, Prodrive has built more than 700 Subaru rally cars, including nearly 100 Impreza and Legacy Group As and 160 Impreza World Rally Cars. In the 1980s the company also built 40 BMW E30 M3s and, more recently, nearly 50 Aston Martin racing cars based on the DB9 and a further 180 on the previous generation Vantage"

The range of historic Aston Martin and Aston Martin Racing cars that can benefit from this new service facility include the DBR9, DBRS9, DBR1-2 prototype, V8 GTE and V12 GT3.

Source material - Prodrive
Wednesday, November 27, 2019 |
AMR runners miss out in rain affected IGTC finale

AMR runners miss out in rain affected IGTC finale

Last weekends final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge from the rejuvenated Kyalami race track in South Africa was very much a breath of fresh air in the world of motorsport with all too many events these days taking place at sterile, more heartless and lack lustre venues.

Obviously, the Kyalami of today differs greatly to that of the seventies when Formula 1 commanded and got the admiration of the world at large that it deserved back then even though there were all too many darkened days amongst them. Last weekends event however, was conducted in more notably enjoyable surroundings as the international racing community finally accepted this iconic name back into its fold with local fans in their thousands coming out to catch up on what they had so far been missing.

Whoever devised the day into night Free Practice and the similar nine hour race format was a stroke of genius as having the best the GT3 racing world could offer, all competing on a track brand new to most together with the unpredictable sub-tropical weather that the southern tip of Africa can come up with made the event what is was despite results not going the way of the Aston Martin Racing runners.

Having already contended with some truly remarkable weather patterns moving in across the circuit during the course of Free Practice and Qualifying, the start of the race on Saturday at least started under clear blue skies and increasing track and cockpit temperatures as the twenty eight starters got under way.

For the #188 Garage 59 Pro-Am entry, the race sadly never really got underway as an uncharacteristic gearbox failure aboard their AMR V8 Vantage GT3 sluiced oil onto the rear wheels of the car, putting starting driver Chris Goodwin into a half spin and through the gravel trap before making heavy contact with a sausage kerb with the front end as he began the recovery process to the pits. That was only his third lap!!

That combination of damage at either end of the car would consign them to the garage for the next two hours of the race - effectively ending their podium bid unless they could later complete 70% of the race winners distance. Co-drivers Alex West and Come Ledogar would have to sit patiently for their turn.

Garage 59's misfortunes meanwhile left the reigns of the AMR brand firmly in the hands of the two R-Motorsport GT3's with them having started from a post Qualifying penalised P12 (#76) and P19 (#62) for their starting drivers of Maxime Martin and Hugo de Sadeleer respectively.

Despite both cars competing in the full Pro class, each car carried a non full Pro driver in the form of World Challenge Europe Silver Cup winner De Sadeleer in the #62 and single seater racer but GT rookie Enaam Ahmed in the other. Their performance on track however far from compromised the cars overall performance as the #62 raised itself as high as P2 overall just after the halfway mark with the #76 hovering around P17.

Just as the light began to fade, incidences began to happen on track and the threat of rain before the end of the race began to hold some real likelihood. A huge tyre blowout on the #108 Bentley threw up the need for another FCY following on from one earlier to recover a stricken Lamborghini from the local trio within the National Cup class in what had been a reasonably clean race so far. By then the Garage 59 crew had already worked their wonder on the #188 car with Goodwin already having completed his 'opening stint' before handing over to Alex West for his first laps in the race.

With the clock counting down to just three hours remaining, the #62 car still looked a menacing threat to the leading Porsches as the grey and blue liveried car circulated just 40 seconds back from the leader in P6 having themselves lost track time for an earlier drive through penalty for track limits.

Then everything got turned upon its heads!!

The #108 Bentley that earlier suffered a massive blowout suffered a more significant dilemma as it nosedived heavily into the tyre wall - another FCY was needed to recover it and repair the barrier damage just as the rain began to fall. Not slowly and progressively like we maybe more used to in Europe but with an off to on effect, quickly swamping the track with rivers of water for it to suddenly stop as quick as it had started.

Twenty five minutes behind the Safety Car later and it wasn't looking good for a restart anytime soon as the rain came and went only to return again as progressively longer and intense downpours. This, together with the poor weather forecast for the remaining two hours proved to be the end of the race for the #188 Garage 59 car as it was returned to the garage - not with any technical issue other than not being able to make up its minimum race time to be able to be classified by the chequered flag. They would finish their IGTC finale some 50 laps + short.

For the best part of the next ninety minutes, the remaining field tried to tippy toe around the 5.45km circuit as the thunder, lightning and rain continued to hammer down around the circuit as rivers of flood water washed over the circuit. At times it appeared impossible to simply drive around the circuit at the slowest of speeds yet alone race at any significant speed.

Collard in the #62 (P9) and Martin in the #76 (P17) were the ones having to keep themselves alert enough not to loose the car off the track from either aquaplaning or collect the car in front as speeds behind the Safety Car fluctuated as an when conditions allowed.

Then, and with just 25 minutes remaining on the clock, Race Control let the pack go with a final dash to the flag for the ten cars that remained on the lead lap as a small break in the weather saw the rain stop and a drier line soon establish itself on track. 

For the remaining two AMR cars, the #62 car would eventually finish highest in P10 overall for the Collard/Kirchhofer/De Sadeleer trio whilst the #76 car would finish P14 but three laps down to the leader following earlier issues.

With neither team in any Championship position at this season finale in South Africa anyway, attention has already turned to the 2020 season of the Intercontinental GT Challenge that starts in little over sixty days at the 12hours of Bathurst in Australia at the end of January.

This is where the new AMR Vantage GT3 finally make its full debut in Australia having missed out on homologation rules at this years event.

Whats there not to like about this series?

Photo credits - Garage 59 / R-Motorsport / IGTC

Monday, November 25, 2019 |