Aston backs D'station to "take the next step" in 2020
Aston Martin is convinced D'station Racing can be a frontrunner in SUPER GT's GT300 class next year despite a gruelling first season in the Japanese series for the team.
D'station campaigned a Vantage GT3 this season for Tomonobu Fujii and ex-Nissan GT500 star Joao Paulo de Oliveira with factory backing from Aston Martin, but struggled make an impact in a congested GT300 field, failing to score any top-10 finishes.
The team's best result was an 11th place in the 500-mile Fuji round, where long-time Aston factory man Darren Turner was brought on board as a third driver.
Aston Martin Racing managing director John Gaw said the British manufacturer could potentially loan D'station one of its factory drivers for the full season in 2020, and that it is exploring its tyre options after its difficulties with Yokohama rubber this year.
"They’re a really good team with big ambitions," Gaw told Motorsport.com. "They are building a brand new facility just outside Fuji [Speedway], it’s huge.
"They’ve got some things they need to tighten up, and we’ve got some things we need to tighten up. We need to work on getting the right tyre solution for GT300.
"But it’s definitely important manufacturer racing and you need a high quality team with the right tyre and some good drivers. D’station has the capability to put these three things together with a bit of support from us, so hopefully we can take the next step next year."
Asked whether de Oliveira would remain part of the D'station set-up in 2020, Gaw replied: "JP has great experience of SUPER GT, he is very fast in that championship. That’s the reason we put him there in the first place.
"If we get all the other ingredients together, he would have a chance of winning, for sure."
Gaw ruled out D'station expanding to a second car in 2020, although he stated other teams had expressed an interest in running the Vantage in future.
D'station targets Le Mans with Asian Le Mans Series assault
D'station has also entered the GT class of the 2019/20 Asian Le Mans Series, which kicks off this weekend in Shanghai, with Fujii sharing a Vantage GT3 with Aston factory driver Ross Gunn and gentleman racer Satoshi Hoshino.
Gaw made it clear that the squad is gunning for the guaranteed Le Mans 24 Hours entry that comes as a result of winning the class.
"That’s the big prize," he said. "That’s why we put Ross there with the aim of trying to do that.
"Hoshino wants to race at Le Mans in an Aston. But it’s difficult to get an entry. That’s certainly a route to an entry, and that’s the target. We aren’t going there to finish second."
#7 D'station Racing AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3: Tomonobu Fuji, Joao Paulo de Oliveira
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
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