Aston Martin Racing announces Le Mans driver line-up Aston Martin Racing today confirms its participation in the 74th Le Mans 24- hours, and its driver line-up for the race, which takes place on June 17- 18. Aston Martin Racing's two DBR9s...
Aston Martin Racing announces Le Mans driver line-up
Aston Martin Racing today confirms its participation in the 74th Le Mans 24- hours, and its driver line-up for the race, which takes place on June 17- 18.
Aston Martin Racing's two DBR9s will be driven by Tomas Enge (Czech Republic), Andrea Piccini (Italy) and Darren Turner (UK), who will share the number 007 car. In car number 009 are Pedro Lamy (Portugal), Stephane Ortelli (Monaco) and Stephane Sarrazin (France).
The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), which is celebrating its centenary this year, has granted permission for the Aston Martin Racing DBR9s to use the numbers 007 and 009, the first time any car has raced at Le Mans with a three-digit number.
"We have a great driver line-up. Four of the drivers were with us last year and have driven for us in the first three ALMS races of this year," said Aston Martin Racing Team Principal George Howard-Chappell. "Stephane (Ortelli) drove for us at Sebring in 2005 and, although Andrea is new to our team, he has shown great potential driving a DBR9 for one of our customer teams.
The team had mixed fortunes at Le Mans last year in their long awaited return to the world-famous endurance race. After a thrilling race the number 59 Aston Martin DBR9 finished third in the GT1 class, ninth overall.
"Relative to last year and to our opposition in the GT1 class we have been handicapped," said Howard-Chappell on the prospects of Aston Martin Racing at Le Mans in 2006. "We have been given an additional 25kg of weight, we are no longer allowed to run our low down-force front bumper and we have had our engine performance reduced via a smaller restrictor. We were fast last year but as always in motor racing, this year will be an unknown and we won't really know where we are in comparison to the opposition until we get to the race."
The team will be using Michelin tyres at Le Mans. Howard-Chappell commented: "Pirelli are still our tyre partner in the US and if we race there again after Le Mans it will be with Pirelli."
The Aston Martin Racing team will leave their base in Banbury, UK on Friday 2 June to attend the official test at Le Mans in what promises to be a fiercely competitive GT1 class with 12 cars from five different marques.
This year the number of Aston Martins contesting Le Mans has doubled with the addition of two teams. The two Aston Martin Racing DBR9s will be joined by the Aston Martin Racing BMS DBR9, which will run with the number 69, and the number 62 Russian Age Racing DBR9.
The 74th Le Mans 24 Hours is scheduled to start one hour later than usual at 1700 (GMT +1) on Saturday 17 June.
Car Number 007
Tomas Enge (Czech Republic)
Enge will be hoping to continue his GT1 pole position record having set the fastest qualifying time in his class for four years in succession. "This will be my fifth time at Le Mans and it is my favourite track, I have always been quick here and hope that this year will be the same."
Andrea Piccini (Italy)
Piccini drives an Aston Martin DBR9 for Phoenix Racing in the FIA GT Championship. "This will be the first time I have competed at Le Mans. I hope that I have proved myself in the first two races of the FIA GT Championship this year; I have a good feeling in the DBR9 and liked the car straight away. Le Mans is the most important race in history and I am really proud to be driving for Aston Martin."
Darren Turner (UK)
"I'm happy that the team have found a good driver to partner myself and Tomas at Le Mans. Andrea is already familiar with the DBR9 so it shouldn't take him too long to get up to speed. I will not be attending the Le Mans test as I am competing in the British Touring Car Championship that weekend, so it will mean that Andrea will get more time in the car."
Car Number 009
Pedro Lamy (Portugal)
This year will mark Lamy's seventh appearance at the La Sarthe circuit. "Stephane (Ortelli) will be a good team mate for us as he has a lot of experience at Le Mans. We were so close last year and you never know what will happen at Le Mans but I believe it is possible to get a good result this year."
Stephane Ortelli (Monaco)
Ortelli rejoins Aston Martin Racing for Le Mans having previously driven for the team in March 2005 as one third of the Sebring 12-hour winning line- up. 2006 will be Ortelli's eleventh race at Le Mans and the Monegasque driver won the race outright in 1998. "I love Le Mans and I really enjoyed driving the DBR9 last year at Sebring. Aston Martin Racing is a great team. I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the DBR9."
Stephane Sarrazin (France)
Stephane Sarrazin will be competing for the second year in a DBR9. "I love Le Mans. It is one of the biggest races in the world and is special for any driver but for a French driver like myself, it is extra special. Our podium finish last year was a great achievement but of course we always want to win."