Aston Martin Racing dominated the LMGTE classes of the test day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, ending the day first and second in both the Pro and Am categories.
The day begun with the teams have to tame a damp track. The afternoon session brought the fastest times of the day with Peter Dumbreck and Jamie Campbell–Walter the fastest men in the Pro and Am classes respectively.
Dumbreck, who will share the #97 V8 Vantage with Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke for the race was also the fastest in class during the morning session.
“First of all, for me it was a chance to get time in the Vantage GTE,” said the Scot, who joined the team over the winter after racing in LMP1 last year. “So far this year I haven’t done many miles in the car. After eight years, I’m back at Le Mans and re-learning the track. I started in the wet, but finished in the dry and got a clear lap. It’s been a great start to my Le Mans.”
Dumbreck set the pace for the GT cars with a best time of 3:58.806. In the #99 – the second of three works Astons in the class – Fred Makowiecki was second fastest (3:59.148). Pedro Lamy completed the top six in the third of the team’s cars in the class his best time within a second of Dumbreck’s effort.
In the Am class Campbell-Walter’s best lap (4:00.867) headed Allan Simonsen in another Aston 1-2. Simonsen, part of the all-Danish line-up in the #95 with Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard, had set the best lap in class during the difficult morning session.
“The car is obviously very good,” said Campbell-Walter. “The most important thing here is that the car is comfortable. Yes, speed is important, but you need a comfortable car and we certainly have that. We are here first and foremost to test the car, but to be fastest is great and bodes well for the race in two weeks’ time.”
Adding to successful nature of the test day the team made sure they will go into the race week with a full complement of drivers. With plans to take 17 drivers to Le Mans it remained for Le Mans debutants Paul Dalla Lana, Jonny Adam and Richie Stanaway to complete the compulsory ten laps to be allowed to compete which they all managed without incident.
“It went really well,” said Adam, who will serve as a reserve driver for the race. “Obviously, ten laps of an 8.5-mile circuit takes up a large chunk of the session so we worked on some mapping while I clocked them up. It was a great experience – I took it easy at first and built up to it but the conditions were constantly changing out there, the grip levels were really up and down.”
“We came here with three objectives;” outlined team principal John Gaw, “to finalise our race set up for each car, to give all drivers time on track and to ensure our three Le Mans rookie drivers completed their 10 laps. We are happy to go back to the UK having achieved them all.
“All-in-all the session went well and we are looking forward to the race. We are celebrating Aston Martin’s centenary year in 2013 and we hope to come away from the race with results that suitably mark the occasion.”