Aston Martin ready for Le Mans showdown

by Joe Hudson

Aston Martin Racing are all set to go for their tenth consecutive 24 Hours of Le Mans with their four pronged attack in the GTE Pro and GTE Am categories.

With two cars in each category, the Gulf liveried V8 Vantages will be hoping to beat the assembled ranks of Ferraris, Porsches and Corvettes – harking back to the epic GT1 battles in 2007 and ’08 with the DBR9 and the C6.R.

The four Astons taking up the fight will be raced under two banners, three will be raced by Aston Martin Racing itself whilst the fourth – #99 of Alex MacDowall, Fernando Rees and Darryl O’Young – will be raced under the Craft-Bamboo banner but still fully supported by AMR with team principal John Gaw believing it is their strongest year yet.

“This is the third Le Mans in Aston Martin Racing’s return to GT racing and, subsequently, the team is in a very strong place,” comments Gaw. “The competition in our class will be intense this year, for sure, but the team is the most prepared it has ever been.

“But preparation is just part of what we need to be successful. A key ingredient, of course, is the drivers and I’d argue that this year we have the strongest line-up in the GTE Pro class with the #97 car, while both of our GTE Am cars could fight for the class win.

“Our #99 GTE Pro team has two Le Mans rookie drivers so this is a learning year for them, but they are doing a solid job so far and the team is one to watch for the future.”

Joining the #99 trio includes stalwarts of Aston Martin including Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke who will be joined by ex-F1 star Bruno Senna in the #97 as well as the Danish squadron of Nicki Thiim, David Heinemeier Hansson and Kristian Poulson in the #95.

Finally is the #98 and leading the team is IMSA GT Daytona star Paul Dalla Lana who will be racing alongside Pedro Lamy and Christoffer Nygaard in a team that could quite easily be competing for top honours in GTE Am.

Turner, double GT class Le Mans-winner, commented: “We came here for the test last weekend and on paper it looked like we were struggling. However, we were actually doing what I call ‘homework’; all the things you need to do before going racing, such as bedding in brakes. We got through all our homework in the morning but didn’t put in a representative lap time.

“In the afternoon we managed to get some good laps in and, although we’re still a little bit off the competition, if you look at the sector times we’re not as far off as it seems. The car is different from last year: the 5mm ride height change we had over the winter has created a new problem for us at Le Mans. When we are in low downforce trim it affects the predictability of the car under braking. This makes the car a bit more of a handful but we just need to find a good balance. I’m confident that our team will manage to do this ahead of the race.”

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