After a disastrous 2011 with the LMP1 AMR-One project Aston Martin Racing will return to endurance racing's GT ranks this season with a GTE Pro class Vantage in the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The new Vantage GTE is a significant development on the GT2-spec Vantage that has been campaigned around the world by teams including Drayson Racing, JMW Motorsport and Jota, and the return of a works backed team brings the squad back, arguably, to its traditional home after recent forays into the prototype classes.
“It's great to be returning to our core motorsport activity; production-based GT racing,” said David Richards, Aston Martin Lagonda chairman, “It formed the basis for Aston Martin's return to competition when the DBR9 GT1-racer was launched in 2004, and it was in GT racing that we achieved our famous victories at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008.”
“The GT category is also now the most competitive class in world sports car racing and with the new FIA World Endurance Championship the GTE class will, I believe, offer the closest fought and most exciting spectacle. We will see many premium sports car brands competing with great sounding racing cars based on their production models, which all the fans can relate to.”
Through in a new class, and on new car, the iconic blue and orange Gulf racing colours remain, as do the familiar stable of Aston Martin Racing drivers.
The team expect to campaign a single Vantage GTE during the eight round WEC season that starts on March 17 with the 12 Hours of Sebring. For the historic 60th anniversary edition of the race the three drivers of the car have been confirmed as Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Adrian Fernandez.
Aston Martin Racing will also contest the Long Beach and Laguna Seca rounds of the American Le Mans Series in order to further prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where they will field a two car team – with both entries already confirmed on the entry list revealed last month.
“I'm excited about this program as it's our opportunity to take Aston Martin back to the top of the world of GT racing,” said Turner. “The Vantage GTE is a great car; she's coming along nicely now and we're ready to take on what we expect will be tough competition. The FIA World Endurance Championship calendar looks good to me, especially as I've already won in an Aston Martin at half of the tracks: Sebring, Silverstone, Interlagos and of course at Le Mans. We are going to Sebring next month with a brand new car, but that's exactly what we did with the DBR9 back in 2005 and we won that race. I'm not promising we can repeat that but we'll certainly try!”