WEC Silverstone Recap

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sunday 14th April saw an unusual starting venue for the first round of the 2013 World Endurance Championship. Friday practice and Saturday qualifying had been a mixed bag in terms of weather leaving few (if any) teams with solid data for dry running with their new ’13 spec cars.

Fortunately Sunday appeared as though the weather would be more favourable with high breaking cloud, that strange yellow thing in the sky trying to poke its head out and a very blustery wind.

As with most teams race preparation activities within the Aston Martin Racing garage started for the large squad well before the time the public started arriving at The Wing. Without the customary half hour morning warm up this year there was little more that could be done other than the also customary PR business with the visiting team dignitaries and other VIP guests, and playing surrogate host to a FIA Euro F3 team tending to their own in their final race of the weekend.

Come 10am the fans were let loose into the pit lane for the autograph session in front of the garages.  Even with big corporate names like Audi and Toyota it was obvious that the Aston Martin garage was the most popular with its four-car line up – being almost 20 deep at times. Was it the lure of this iconic brand or just the Senna effect?

Public duties over the two Pro and two AM cars were trolleyed out of their respective garage bays – brand new Michelin slicks bolted on at the apron before the starting drivers made their way around to the formation grid. Being Aston Martin’s Centenary year it was a very fitting touch that high above the grid a small plane quietly drew alongside the track pulling a banner reading “Aston Martin 100th Congratulations” bringing a rapturous round of applause from the patriotic crowd in the opposite grandstands.

On the strike of 12noon the whole grid move off for the warm up lap with the #97 Pro car of Mucke leading away the GTE field with the other #99 Pro car of Lamy next from Row 9, then the #96 AM car of Campbell-Walter from Row 10 and finally for AMR the #95 AM car of Simonsen from Row 12.

After the first half dozen laps AMR were enjoying a 1-2 in both classes and by the time the first round of pit stops came around the new ’13 spec car had showed good pace and endurance compared to its competitors.

Just before the half way mark a brief but very sharp shower started to cause havoc with the cars on track with the #96 car with Goethe spinning off on cold tyres on his outlap. That would be just the pre cursor for a few more errors from the AM driver that would ultimately cost the car a podium position with a further spin and 30sec stop & go penalty for pit lane speeding.
With the other cars due in during this rain shower the selection of the correct tyre was proving critical – “clear a whole” through the garage came the call a number of times as the suited and booted AMR crew rushed new wets through the bays from the rear.

The #97 car was now suffering from its first gremlin of the day – the loss of traction control but now with Senna at the wheel on a drying track this wouldn’t prove to be a hindrance to the car’s performance. Nothing could be done about it anyway.

Come the chequered flag at the end of the 6hours of Silverstone the #97 Turner/Mucke/Senna car secured a dominant lights to flag victory in GTE Pro with the sister #99 car of Dalla-Lana/Makowiecki/Lamy coming in a fine third.

Back in GTE AM the #95 Danish crewed car of Nygaard/Poulsen/Simonsen secured a fine podium in that category with the #96 car of
Goethe/Hall/Campbell-Walter only missing out on a podium by 25 seconds.

What this exactly meant to the drivers and crew from Aston Martin Racing was evident with the celebrations at the podium – a real team effort.

All in all this was a pretty impressive performance by the ’13 spec Pro cars considering the teething problems they had whilst debuting the car at Sebring earlier in the year. The ’12 spec AM class cars also continue to show a very healthy dominance over their competitors that had been developed by the end of the 2012 season.

Next up is the 6hrs at Spa-Francorchamps in just a couple of weeks with a rumoured 5th GTE car from AMR. Based upon the performance of cars and driver line-ups at Silverstone - 2013 could quite easily become a very happy year for Aston Martin.

Happy birthday.

Richard Leach
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