Last year Aston Marting Racing took both GT class-wins in Austin.
Gaydon - After a long summer break, the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) resumes at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend (20 September) and Aston Martin Racing is hoping to repeat last year’s success when it won both the GTE PRO and GTE AM classes, but Team Principal John Gaw believes the competition is tougher than ever.
In last year’s six-hour race at the newly-built track near Austin in Texas, Aston Martin Racing qualified on pole in both GT classes and, after six hours of racing in high-temperatures, took both class-wins.
This year, in a race named the 'Lone Star Le Mans', it returns with its four V8 Vantage GTEs and, after a competitive start to the season, John Gaw has prepared his team for a tough race in Austin.
Le Mans seems such a long time ago so we’re all really keen to get back into the Vantage GTE,
“Last year the championship was extremely competitive but I think that this year will be even tougher for us,” he commented. “We saw at Le Mans that the Corvettes are very quick and we had to push incredibly hard and use clever strategy to compete with both them and the Ferraris.”
Leading the team’s GTE PRO campaign is the #97 Gulf-liveried V8 Vantage GTE driven by Darren Turner (GB) and Stefan Mücke (DE). Turner, who celebrated 10 years of racing with Aston Martin this year, commented: “The last five races of the year are all at circuits that are good fun to drive and I enjoy the amount of jet-setting we have until the end of November.
“It would be great to think we could still be in with a shot at the championship but after our result at Le Mans it is looking very difficult. We will be trying as hard as ever and we will do everything we can to grab a win.”
Also in the GTE PRO class, the #99 Craft-Bamboo Racing V8 Vantage GTE, piloted by Alex MacDowall (GB), Fernando Rees (FR) and Darryl O’Young (HK) will make its Circuit of the Americas debut in the car’s Valero livery.
“Le Mans seems such a long time ago so we’re all really keen to get back into the Vantage GTE,” commented MacDowall. “Aston Martin Racing have been keeping me busy, though, by placing me in a V12 Vantage GT3 in the British GT Championship.”
In the GTE AM class, the championship leaders and Le Mans class-winners, Young Driver AMR, will look to extend the #95 Vantage GTE’s lead over the pack with drivers Kristian Poulsen (DN), David Heinemeier Hansson (DN) and Richie Stanaway (NZ).
“Last year I took my first WEC race win at Austin, so I’m really looking forward to going back,” commented Stanaway. “I’m also looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Vantage GTE – I’ve really missed it.”
Also challenging in the AM class is the #98 NorthWest-liveried Vantage GTE driven by Pedro Lamy (PT), Paul Dalla Lana (CA) and Christoffer Nygaard (DN).
“Circuit of the Americas is a fantastic track and facility,” commented Lamy. “Even though it is an evening race, it will still be hot and the competition will be tough, but we have a strong driver line-up and I think we can do a good job.”
The partially-dark FIA WEC Six Hours of Austin will start at 1700hrs on Saturday 20 September.
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