ELMS and Le Mans Cups visit to Aragon heating up in many ways for the Aston Martin contingent

Thursday, August 24, 2023


Under the baking sun of Motorland Aragon in southern Spain, what is still only the third round of the European Le Mans Series has got officially underway this morning with the first Free Practice session after yesterday’s official test day.

With both ambient and track temperatures reaching far into the mid-forties, working conditions for everyone involved, from circuit marshals, to photographers, to spectator officials and to the team mechanics and race drivers all donned in their Nomex fire suits – these kind of temperatures to their working environment to new levels of hardship and stress and we hope all look after themselves accordingly!

After previous rounds at Barcelona and Paul Ricard (with Le Mans somewhere in between), forty-two cars figure upon this weekends entry list which is of course split between the Series available LMP2, LMP3 and GTE classes.

No changes within the expected running order for the three full season Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE entries as TF Sport again provide the mechanical services to their #72 (Arnold Robin/Max Robin/Valentin Hasse-Clot) and the #95 car (John Hartshorne/Jonny Adam/Ben Tuck) as well as the Danish #44 GMB Motorsport AMR of Jens Moller/Gustav Birch and a returning Nikki Thiim.

After the racing horrors of Barcelona when two of the Aston Martin runners were eliminated from the race on the opening lap, a Balance of Performance change to the Vantage ahead of round two saw much better performances all round with the #95 car claiming a class podium in P3 whilst certainly the #72 would have finished higher than its eventual P7 had it not been for earlier contact.

Yesterday’s test saw steady progress from the three Astons during both available morning and afternoon sessions with the #95 TF Sport car second fastest in both sessions whilst the other two ran something of a more conservative pace. In today’s Free Practice, we saw those performances reversed as the #44 GMB car became the fastest Aston in P4 with the #95 towards the bottom of the timing screen – so who knows who’s fastest!!

Tomorrow sees a late Free Practice 2 session before Qualifying on Saturday morning as the teams gear themselves up for this weekend’s four-hour night race.

In the supporting Michelin Le Mans Cup Series, drivers Valentin Hasse-Clot and Arnold Robin continue to run a dual ACO rules race format as they enter the #10 Racing Spirit of Le Mans Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3.

That series has also ran a similar testing and practice sessions like the headlining ELMS series but have concluded their second Free Practice session already although we did not see the #10 car turn a lap during yesterday’s test – presumably again preferring to concentrate upon their GTE set up and saving their GT3 car for the main event like they have done before.

Free Practice saw the #10 car turn just seven laps as a shakedown test before Robin ran a further five laps within the Bronze Driver test before the wick was cranked right up in Free Practice 2 where the #10 car clocked the fastest lap as they prepare for tomorrow mornings Qualifying ahead of their 110minute race later on Friday.

After the previous round at Paul Ricard, the #10 crew of Robin and Hasse-Clot lead the GT3 Drivers Championship by ten points with this and two further rounds remaining.

Photo credits – LMC / ELMS / Teams / Andrew Lofthouse
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