Aston Martin’s modern motorsport division celebrates this year.
This year Aston Martin Racing celebrates ten years as Aston Martin’s modern motorsport division and looks proudly back at a decade of success that boasts Le Mans class-wins and victories at the highest level of sportscar racing around the world.
From the Le Mans-class winning DBR9, which was announced in November 2004, through the brand’s successful venture into prototype racing with the DBR1-2, to the current Vantage-based GTs which are contesting this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship and Nürburgring 24 Hours, the team has played an important role in defining the most recent decade in Aston Martin’s illustrious 101-year history.
David Richards, Aston Martin Racing Chairman, said: “Aston Martin Racing was established to reinforce the motorsport DNA of our products by racing production based GT cars at the highest level of the sport and support our customer teams around the world.”
“Many will remember the David Brown era of Aston Martin and that famous win at Le Mans in 1959. Whilst the intervening years have seen a wide variety of Aston Martins taking part in races it was the introduction of the DB9 in 2004 that gave us the opportunity to return to GT racing at a time when the sport was experiencing a major resurgence.”
In 2004, GT racing was on the rise and sports car manufacturers were looking at which of their road cars could succeed on-track. The newly-launched Aston Martin DB9, with its technically advanced, lightweight VH architecture and powerful 6.0-litre V12 engine made it ideally suited to the GT1 regulations of the time.
The DBR9, based on the iconic DB9 sports car, proved to be extremely successful. After winning the GT1-class in its competitive debut at the 2005 12 Hours of Sebring, it came third in the world-famous 24 Hours of Le Mans three months later. In its second year at Le Mans it took a step further up the podium and in 2007 and 2008 it took the GT1 class-win.
With GT success to its name, Aston Martin Racing set its sights on repeating its 1959 success and winning Le Mans outright. To do this, it needed to design an LMP1 prototype car.
The result was the DBR1-2 and the team’s move into LMP1 racing exceeded all expectations by finishing an excellent fourth overall in 2009. However, in 2012, the team decided to return to its Aston Martin’s racing heritage and race cars based on its road cars.
“From a marketing point of view, there is a much stronger link between GT racing and our product range,” explains Head of Motorsport at Aston Martin David King. “The Vantage was the obvious choice; it was designed to offer optimum performance, handling and comfort on the road so it was ideal for developing into a GT car.”
On the Vantage chassis Aston Martin Racing developed a highly-successful GT4, a championship-winning GT3 and the FIA World Endurance Championship race-winning GTE.
“The WEC forms the centrepiece of our motorsport campaign,” comments John Gaw, Team Principal at Aston Martin Racing. “The Vantage GTE, our WEC competitor, has been extremely successful. “Of the last twelve WEC six-hour races, a Vantage GTE has been on the podium every time with a class win at six of last year’s seven races.”
The GT3, launched in 2012, has also played a key role in Aston Martin’s motorsport achievements in recent years. As well as customer successes including winning the British GT Championship, the car has taken the brand’s Nürburgring assault to a higher level.
In 2013, the second year of a five-year plan, Aston Martin Racing’s works Vantage GT3 led the Nürburgring 24 Hours for ten hours before a night of heavy rain halted running and disrupted the race. This year, the team will return with the GT3 to race alongside Aston Martin’s Test Centre cars which will, this year, include a close-to-road-specification Vantage.
“GT racing is very much the future of Aston Martin Racing,” comments Gaw. “We now have our race cars running on every Continent in some of the world’s most competitive sportscar races and championships with some of the top GT drivers behind the wheel.”
Aston Martin Racing will contest the 2014 WEC with four Gulf-liveried Vantage GTEs, plus a six-car entry at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It will also enter its Bilstein-liveried Vantage GT3 into the ADAC Nürburgring 24 Hours.