AMR Winter Test and team announcements

Friday, February 12, 2016

This time next weekend the Aston Martin Racing Factory team, together with selected Partner Teams will be commencing their now annual winter test at a race track somewhere in Spain.

Having had their entries into the World Endurance Championship, the European Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans confirmed by the ACO and FIA only last week, the full driver line up of these factory entries has yet to be announced. It has become something of a tradition now to undertake the #TeamAMR winter test behind closed doors (like it was at Monteblanco last year) after formally announcing their full driver line ups, factory car liveries and other factory supported efforts into events like the Nurburgring and Spa 24's to the world's media. Partner teams also have a habit of releasing more information regarding their plans for the season as well.

We understand that this factory announcement will be on Friday 19th February.

We already know that there will be just two GTE Pro entries into the WEC alongside that of a single GTE AM. Whilst Nikki Thiim has been named as the 'lead driver' of the #95 (and presumably the Young Driver AMR entry) the news of Richie Stanaway featuring as 'lead driver' of the #97 has upset one or two lines of thought about possible driver line ups in that car.

The #98 GTE Am entry is more likely to be just the confirmation of last years driver line of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda again - a line up that has already featured at the Rolex24 and will feature again at Sebring in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship next month.

We will have wait and see who will be joining Beechdean's Andrew Howard in his GTE entry into the ELMS and LM24 - will he be reunited with Jonny Adam and Alex MacDowall again for these? Either way the dedication and learning curve required from the 2015 British GT GT3 Champion will be even more intense considering his surprise return to the British GT series with Evolution Academy winner and British GT GT4 Champion Ross Gunn.

Following the big boys around the track (literally) wherever it may be this year (we have heard a couple of rumours about where but certainly nothing confirmed) will be those from AMR's Partner teams. We would expect teams like Beechdean Motorsport, TF Sport and Motorbase all to be there with the factory. Whilst TF Sport has already disclosed its entry series and driver line ups for their three V12 Vantage GT3's, Beechdean still needs to confirm the series entries and driver line up of their (new for 2016) second V8 Vantage GT4. Motorbase have yet to announce anything since their last team outing at the Gulf 12Hr in Abu Dhabi in December.

We may see new teams for 2016 invited along to the event like TDS Racing and their GTE entry for the ELMS and LM24. Beyond that a few new British GT entries are a possibility - teams like PFL Motorsport (GT3), SuperRacing (GT4) and MacMillan Racing (GT4).

One thing that we know is that all the attending teams will be doing will be lots of tyre testing. Last weeks ACO/FIA announcements saw Aston Martin Racing move across from Michelin rubber to Dunlop for the WEC, ELMS and LM24. Tyre data available to the factory teams will be limited to that obtained by the team at the Bahrain test at the end of last season. Then there is the additional 'issue' of the two GTE Pro cars being of the new higher aero 2016 specification - new car + new tyres!!

British GT has also swapped tyre supplier from Avon to Pirelli - seeing Jonny Adam shaking down two of the TF Sport cars last week he confirmed the car was more unstable on a Pirelli at low track temperatures, so for some it will be a whole new experience.

With information coming out of these tests normally severely restricted by the team we will just have to wait and see if any other information is made available to us over the coming week.

Photo credits - AMR / IMSA / Dunlop / Beechdean

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