An amazing AMR Vantage GTE Launch night

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Who'd have thought last night that down a dimly lit cobbled lane on the site of an old Brewery in the east end of London that you'd come across the official launch of the 2018 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE!

With the location until then shrouded in absolute secrecy, a couple of hundred people slowly turned up at the Old Truman Brewery Site for an event that would wow the invited international customer and media audience with the simultaneous unveiling of both the New Vantage road car and race car.

After a couple of brief presentational video clips and a motivational address from Aston Martin CEO, Dr Andy Palmer it was quickly down to business with the unveiling of the two cars along with an open invitation for all within the audience to inspect the results of the team's toil over many months of development. There was no 'keep behind the line' there!!

The most obvious change (other than the new shape itself) was the inversion of its colour scheme from this year, with the new car now predominantly being a vibrant lime colour with Sterling Green left for the sponsor logo detail along with day glow orange flashes around the from end creating that predatory character that the CEO spoke about earlier.

Strangely, the new GTE looked smaller than its predecessor but we have it on good authority that it is actually fractionally longer and wider than its road going brother with whom it shared the stage. Huge bonnet ducts and wide and wide angular door sills were also very evident - all very familiar features on its GTE advisories from the Ferrari, Ford and BMW stables.

With the initial formalities over, it was time to present the drivers to the crowd with Darren Turner, Jonny Adam, Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim, Alex Lynn, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda all stepping forward as driving with the team in the World Endurance Championship during its transitional season that starts next May.

From what we learned from our various conversations last night however, is that this line up is not likely to be the final one going into Spa 2018 as many questions (apparently) still need to be answered within the team. Questions around the likelihood of running a three driver Pro line up at the season opener at Spa remained unanswered as well as any identity to of those possibly involved. We were told that these questions may be answered as soon as next month so we will wait and see!

Whilst the addition of Alex Lynn to the team was openly broadcasted, confirmation of the team's swap back to Michelin wasn't. That was simple left to the presence of small decals on the car and the usual blue and white decals on the sidewall of the tyres to confirm to anyone who looked.

Speaking to one driver during the evening, he was to offer that during testing on the new rubber that it very quickly became apparent as to why their fellow GTE Pro competitors were simply able to drive away from them this season, certainly in the latter half!

Hearing how this test chassis (confirmed as to be the only new 2018 spec GTE in existence at present) has been developed over some 800 man hours of the factory's time, the car actually started its track life at the Pembrey Circuit in South Wales as it (then) wasn't expected to complete many laps first time out - which it did and has continued to do!!

To date the car has now been tested at Snetterton, Rockingham, various circuits in Spain and of course most recently at Sebring clocking up an incredible 13,000kms as well as two 30hours of continuous testing.

The new chassis has also allowed the team to make critical weight and balance adjustments compared to its predecessor with a new, lighter gearbox being positioned slightly lower than before thus lowering its centre of gravity. That, together with a new and lighter driveshaft allows the team to place counterweights wherever they wish within the chassis in order to bring the car up to its minimum declared weight. Gone are the large air ducts through the rear compartment of the car and there is actually a line of sight from any rear view mirror (which there isn't as it uses a camera an WEC proximity system) through to the rear of the car.

The rear defuser also looks slightly smaller but that has simply been pushed further under the car as the extent of  'overhang' beyond the rear valance is governed by Regulation.

We understand that this test car was only flown back to the UK last Friday (after its Sebring test) to have a new engine fitted and the new, full livery to be applied for the first time. We also understand that although the new car has completed its wind shear test in the US it has yet to complete its FIA Homologation process - something that is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

The new GTE will now return to the Prodrive factory for the final build elements to be completed before it is prepared for the teams annual customer test weekend from Spain early in the new year.

Like all things motor racing - the proof will be at its first competitive race meeting but if the smiles and eager anticipation are anything to go by and the car goes as fast as it looks - its will be a great transitional season!

We would just like to thank Aston Martin Racing for their invitation to last nights event and for all their assistance and kind words over this season so we look forward to doing it all over again next year!

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