Welcome to 2018 ..........Its going to be bonkers!!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Firstly, we would like to wishing everyone a belated Happy New Year but what a New Year it is likely to be for Aston Martin Racing and its customer teams.........! There have been the inevitable looses to the brand over the winter months but the news so far has been astronomical.

December saw an unseasonable flurry of driver and team announcements for the 2018 season, a season that is very much a transitional season for the AMR squad as they not only launch their brand new turbo charged Vantage GTE into the World Endurance Championship 'Super Season' but will also see out the year with their older GT3 and GT4 variants all in readiness for them to be replaced for the start of the 2019 season. Busy - busy for those at Gaydon and Banburry!

Going through some of what we know already, there will obviously be a greater level of interaction and involvement between Aston Martin and the Red Bull Racing F1 team as the company looks to escalate its involvement in the sport/team from just brand awareness of old to a more technical and active involvement.

At the end of November/beginning of December we saw AF Racing AG take the stand to enter two V12 Vantage GT's into the 2018 Blancpain GT Series under their R-Motorsport name with drivers Alex Brundle, Jake Dennis, Nicki Thiim and Maxime Martin getting announced in the first instance. We still await for the team to confirm their remaining two drivers ahead of the series test day at the Paul Ricard Circuit in mid March.

It is hoped that the 2017 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup Pro-Am Champion's TF Sport will also confirm any Blancpain GT Series participation of their own for this season within the next couple of weeks

The biggest news of the 2017 closed season we suppose came from TF Sport and their entry into the 2018 British GT Championship. With AMR factory driver Jonny Adam being assigned to a new AMR entry (see later in post) that left the 2016 GT3 Champion Derek Johnston without a professional mentor. With the rumour mill running flat out on the preliminaries of the yuletide season that replacement was later confirmed as being not just one, but both of the Dane Train AMR factory drivers from the WEC in Nicki Thiim pairing with Mark Farmer and Marco Sorensen pairing with Derek Johnston!!

Lets just hope the two Gentleman drivers know what they have let themselves in for!!!

That news also had sad and unfortunate overtones to it as that obviously meant that Jon Barnes, Farmer's co-driver and mentor of many years would be left looking for opportunities elsewhere.

Then there was the announcement from Optimum Motorsport that they would also be running a V12 Vantage GT3 in the series with Jonny Adam moving down a few garage bays to join the  highly talented lady driver Flick Haigh as she looks to progress her experience and abilities in the highest national GT category. Haigh comes fully accustomed to GT racing having already raced GT4's in the 24H Series and more latterly, an Audi R8 GT3 in the Michelin Le Mans Cup series.

Whilst we don't not know whether or not they will be in a brand new or 'well loved but used' car we do know that they will be collecting their car form Prodrive by the end of this month ready for some all important winter testing both at home and abroad before the start of the season in March.

Looking ahead to actual racing in early 2018, we have both the Dubai 24Hours in mid January followed by the Daytona 24 at the end of the month. Unfortunately, there are no Aston Martin Racing teams entered into either event although there are a number of drivers we would all be familiar with.

Running through the entry for Dubai we see AMR favourites like Euan Hankey, Stuart Hall, Mauro Calamia, Mark Farmer, Jon Barnes and Will Moore all competing in a whole plethora of car types so at least there is still every reason to watch it!

Then from Florida, the most notable point of fact is that the Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda trio (also joined by Danial Serra) have elected to swap their V12 Vantage GTD of 2017 for a Spirit of Race entered Ferrari 488 GTD! 

We have seen over previous years that at bespoke events like this the trio have/will race platforms from Audi's and Mercedes (each not having a GTE option) but the absence of any other news concerning their continued WEC participation with AMR, this news brings something of a bit of a lump to the throat!! 

We will await to see the reasons why ...............!!

Photo credits - Jamie Price / AMR / Optimum / R Motorsport

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