Utah: GT1 class - AMR spotlight

ASTON MARTIN BACK IN WINNER'S CIRCLE BRASELTON, Ga. - After flirting with victory in each of the first three American Le Mans Series races in 2006, Aston Martin Racing finally earned an overdue result - a win. Just over a week ago at Lime Rock...

ASTON MARTIN BACK IN WINNER'S CIRCLE

BRASELTON, Ga. - After flirting with victory in each of the first three American Le Mans Series races in 2006, Aston Martin Racing finally earned an overdue result - a win. Just over a week ago at Lime Rock Park, Aston Martin claimed its first Series win of the year as the driver tandem of Stephane Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy won the GT1 class at the New England Grand Prix.

Despite starting in the 11th (overall) position, Sarrazin and Lamy drove the 009 Aston Martin DBR9 to the top of the GT1 field as they held off a late charge from the Corvette C6.R driven by Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell. After 166 laps around the 1.54-mile course, the final margin of victory was just .033, or as Sarrazin put it, "the smallest of space between the two cars."

The win was Aston Martin's second in seven Series races dating back to the British auto marques' victory at the 2005 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. "It was a very exciting race and a tremendous team effort," said Aston Martin Racing Team Principal George Howard-Chappell. "It's a great feeling to be back on the top of the podium."

Thus far in 2006, Aston Martin Racing has won the GT1 pole position in three of the first four Series races and clocked the fastest GT1 race lap twice. Furthermore, aside from establishing two GT1 records, Aston Martin Racing has four Top-Five overall finishes and has also won two of three GT1 podium spots in two of the four Series races, including the New England Grand Prix where Aston Martin finished first and third.

"Things are improving with the car," said team driver Darren Turner, who earned the GT1 pole position at Lime Rock with a time of 50.272 (110.272 mph) and paired with Tomas Enge to finish third in class (6th overall). "The pace is getting better and we're getting closer. We just need to keep working hard and keep taking steps forward. Our qualifying pace is usually good, it's the race pace that we need to continue to work on."

Aston Martin Racing will look to tighten the GT1 championship race with Corvette Racing by doing well this weekend at Round Five - the 4.5-mile, 24-turn Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park.

"We are very excited in that it is after our first victory in the Series," Sarrazin said. "We've won one, so we know we can do it again. It would be fantastic for us to win some more races and compete for the championship."

Opposite the pairing of Enge and Turner in the 007 DBR9, Sarrazin will be without Lamy, his normal driver partner, for this weekend's race. In Lamy's absence, Sarrazin will team with Andrea Piccini in the 009 DBR9.

For Piccini, who joined Enge and Turner in the 007 entry that finished second in class (6th overall) at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Utah Grand Prix will mark his inaugural race in the United States.

"It's very interesting for me to come over to America," he said. "I've been looking for a chance to race in the U.S. because I've never been there before. It's going to be real nice to come over and get to have a look, but it's not going to be an easy circuit to learn because it is almost five miles long with 24 turns. There is no track like it in Europe. Spa is not even as long as that."

Outside of racing, the Italian joked that he is also looking forward to his pairing with France native Sarrazin given the recent outcome of the World Cup soccer final (Italy's 5-3 shootout win over France). "I think I'll have a little bit of fun with it because this time we are the world champion," quipped Piccini.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andrea Piccini , Tomas Enge , Darren Turner , Ron Fellows , Stéphane Sarrazin , Pedro Lamy , George Howard-Chappell
Teams Aston Martin Racing , Corvette Racing