Aston Martin will return to the world's motor racing circuits during 2004 following the creation of a new division to be known as Aston Martin Racing.
In the past two and a half years, the prestigious sports car marque has been experiencing some of the biggest changes ever seen in its 89-year history with the launch of no fewer than six new production cars and the official opening of its new headquarters at Gaydon, in Warwickshire, UK.
However it is now set to turn its attention to production-based world sports car racing - something it is renowned for, having taken both the World Sportscar Championship title and Le Mans 24 Hours in 1959. Aston Martin's new DB9 model will form the basis of this new challenge for 2004 and beyond.
"Aston Martin is an exclusive brand, but we cannot be exclusive without being visible and motor sport is a way to heighten our profile," said Dr Ulrich Bez, Chief Executive Officer of Aston Martin. "Production-based sports car series are growing in stature with many leading manufacturers returning with their own factory programmes. By competing with them we can demonstrate that our cars are not only the best on the road, but also on the racing track.
"We are keen to see new regulations for 2004 that will allow true production-based sports cars to compete on a level playing field. The new rules from the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) clearly provide this; we hope other sporting organisations will follow their route and encourage sports car racing to grow in importance and profile."
The Aston Martin Racing programme will be overseen by Aston Martin's Product Development & Motor Sport Director, Jeremy Main, and run in conjunction with Prodrive, one of the world's leading motor sport specialists. Prodrive will be responsible for the design and development of the cars as well as overseeing their performance when racing.
Work on the design of the Aston Martin DB9 racing car will begin shortly and it is planned to race the first car towards the end of 2004. Aston Martin Racing is aiming to run a number of teams in various sports car series around the world and will be evaluating these during 2004.
In addition to the private teams, Aston Martin Racing will also be producing a number of racing cars for sale to individuals and collectors. Further details about the Aston Martin Racing programme will be announced in early 2004.