Aston Martin Racing has unveiled its most ambitious motorsport program to date as it aims to win both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), as the marque celebrates its centenary year.
Underlining the success of its return to GT racing in 2012 and its commitment to the WEC, the team has confirmed a four-car entry into the series; two Vantage GTEs in both the Pro and Am classes.
Entry into the series means that each of the four V8-powered Vantage GTEs will compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the third round of the WEC on 22nd-23rd June, making this the largest factory team entry into the event by Aston Martin in the history of the marque. Two potential further entries for Le Mans and selected WEC rounds are on the reserve list.
The GTE Pro entries, No. 97 and No. 99, will be the heavily-revised 2013 Vantage GTE.
“When redeveloping the race-winning 2012 Vantage GTE for the 2013 season, the design team focused on increasing the drivability of the car and optimizing the performance,” said Dan Sayers, chief engineer at Aston Martin Racing.
The new Gulf-liveried No. 97 machine will once again be piloted by Darren Turner (GB), who celebrates his 9th season driving for the team. Stefan Mücke (D), who joined the team in 2008, will partner Turner once again. Together, Turner and Mücke will contest every round of the WEC with the aim of winning the GTE Pro championship. For the 24 Hours of Le Mans and for the second round of the WEC, the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Peter Dumbreck (GB), who returns to GT racing after competing in the 2012 WEC in the LMP1 category, will join the team.
The second GTE Pro car, the No. 99 Vantage GTE, will bring some new faces to Aston Martin Racing; Formula One driver Bruno Senna (BR) and Frenchman Frédéric Makowiecki will drive at each round of the WEC and will be joined by Rob Bell (GB) for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The No. 95 car is a brand new Vantage GTE, which, in accordance with the WEC GTE Am class regulations, is built to 2012 specification. The car – which proved its competitiveness by winning the 2012 Six Hours of Shanghai in the hands of the factory team – will be driven by three Danes; Allan Simonsen, Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen. The trio are no strangers to Aston Martin Racing following their GTE Am entry at Le Mans last year.
The final car in the four-strong line up – the No. 96, which is a new car identical to the No. 95 car – will run in the GTE Am category and will see Roald Goethe (D) and Stuart Hall (GB) team up once again. The pair, who proved to be a formidable force for Aston Martin Racing last year at the Six Hours of Silverstone, will be joined by FIA GT Championship-winning driver Jamie Campbell-Walter (GB).
In addition to the WEC programme, Turner, Mücke and Senna will contest the first round of the American Le Mans Series, the 12 Hours of Sebring, on 16th March in the 2013 Vantage GTE.
David Richards, Chairman of Aston Martin, comments: “There is a real sense of anticipation in the Aston Martin Racing team this year and a belief that it is once again our time to return to the top step of the podium at Le Mans. It would be a fitting way for Aston Martin, which has such a rich heritage in motorsport and particularly at Le Mans, to cap its centenary year.”
“Last year we proved how fast and reliable the car was, and our two GTE Am entries will pick up where the Pro car finished with victory in Shanghai last year,” said John Gaw, managing director and team principal at Aston Martin Racing.
“Overall, around 30 per cent of all components on the 2013-specification Pro cars are new, which makes for a significant improvement. We looked at specific areas where we could take weight out of the car and redistribute it to a better location. We have also revised the suspension, which has not only improved the handling but, when combined with the new fly-by wire throttle allowed under this year’s regulations, makes the car easier to drive. Our aim is to win at Le Mans and in the WEC and we are particularly pleased to welcome such a professional driver line-up to Aston Martin Racing for this centenary year.”
The V8-powered Vantage GTE is based upon Aston Martin’s sportiest road-going model, the Vantage coupé. It shares that car’s bonded aluminum structure and fundamental engine and suspension designs, emphasizing the base car’s inherent sporting nature.