The Aston Martin Racing trio of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda are almost synonyms of the World Endurance Championship LM GTE Am class. Well known as a strong line up, the trio had to wait for four years of racing together to claim the Am championship. With four wins and six pole positions, it was the year that Am officially became a creditable championship that the Aston Martin boys took the Endurance Trophy for LM GTE Am Drivers.
The season did not start out the way they had hoped. Taking three pole positions in the first three races, they were only able to convert one into class victory. The 6 Hours of Silverstone ended very controversially as the #61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari made a last corner move that took the #98 Aston off the track. They were able to still claim second, albeit with a spin.
The fruits of their labour came at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps where they successfully returned to winning ways. But it was the monstrous 24-hour endurance: the 24 Hours of Le Mans, that held everyone’s attention. It was at the blue-ribboned event in 2016 where the Aston Martin trio ended with a retirement, taking them right out of contention for the championship.
The 2017 rendition of Le Mans looked to be going the same way for the #98 crew. After leading the class from pole, they suffered a car failure that put them in the garage. A 24-hour race can be a blessing or a curse, and this year for the #98 car it was a blessing. As their issue was so early on in the race, they were able to fight back up the class and take the chequered flag with a very impressive fourth place.
Dalla Lana, Lamy and Lauda had led the entire season of GTE Am with consistent results and only failing to appear on the podium twice in the year. It was at the 6 Hours of Fuji, the second instance of them not being on the podium, that they lost their championship lead. The #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR had also run a consistent 2017 season, and after taking third at the weather-shortened Japanese race, they took the championship lead by a few points. With only two races left, the pressure was on for the #98 to claim the Am championship that they had been fighting for for so long.
It was a close fought championship in the end, with the decider coming down to the final race in Bahrain. The tension was sucked out of the battle a little when Lamy took pole position, meaning that the Aston Martin crew only had to score to take the championship. It was no less satisfying when the team took the chequered flag, claiming their fourth victory and the Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am Drivers.
The first race victory in Silverstone marked a fighting spirit and raw pace for the Clearwater Racing car, but it was a feat they could not replicate throughout the season. Consistent running and appearing on the podium more times than not left them securely third in the championship. They put everything into the 6 Hours of Bahrain to try and steal second off of the #77 Porsche, bringing the car home for second. Just three points separated the two teams at the end of the season.
The victorious champions return to the GTE Am grid in 2018 to fight to retain the title they battled so hard for. With a new Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin joining the Am ranks this year, the competition is set to be fiercer than ever. The countdown begins to see which team will be strongest as they take to the track for the first round of the WEC ‘Super Season’ around Spa-Francorchamps in April.