Aston Martin Racing will give the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 its Nürburgring Nordschleife race debut in round eight of the VLN Endurance Championship, a four-hour race which takes place on 6 October 2018.
The event marks the first occasion the car, driven by three-time Le Mans class winner Darren Turner and 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hours winner Maxime Martin, will have been matched against GT3 opposition.
The Vantage will race in full GT3 specification but has not yet been homologated, so it will run in the VLN’s unique SPX class and hence will be subject to mandatory pitstops that are longer than those for the SP9 (standard GT3) entrants.
The car is now at an advanced stage of development before its March 2019 homologation date, and the purpose of entering this race is to give Aston Martin Racing vital information as to its performance and durability in race conditions on what is considered the most challenging racing environment.
The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 will be joined by two Nürburgring-based AMR Performance Centre prepared Vantages that will both feature works drivers. Turner will switch between the GT3 and a V12 Vantage he will share with German drivers Jürgen Kroner and Marco Müller.
While Aston Martin Lagonda high-performance test driver Chris Goodwin and Aston Martin Racing test and reserve driver Ross Gunn will share a Vantage GT4 as they begin the process of gaining their full VLN licenses for future programmes.
“It’s a great honour for me to be first to race the new Vantage GT3 at the Nürburgring,” said Turner.
“The Nordschleife is like a spiritual home for GT racing so to be there at the start of a new programme is special. It’s a circuit that presents a huge challenge for the cars, and it’s where we need to be racing to find and extend the limits of the Vantage GT3. It’s always great to be a part of the early stages of a development process, and the fact that we are already taking it racing says a lot about its potential and the confidence we have in it. The early signs are that it is going to be a race winner in the not too distant future.”
Maxime Martin added: “Last time we were there in the old car (the V12 Vantage GT3) we finished P4 so I can’t wait to find out what the new car can do. It’s a great challenge and being part of the development of the new car is awesome. Regarding what to expect, we have some basis of understanding from the FIA World Endurance Championship GTE version so it will be interesting to see how the new car will react to this kind of track. There is so much going on at the Nordschleife with its mix of high and low-speed corners and all the bumps. It is the toughest track in the world. If the car is quick there, we can be sure it is fast everywhere.”
Aston Martin Racing President David King said: “This is the next necessary step in the development of the new Vantage GT3. The programme is now at an advanced stage, and it is time to measure the car’s performance against those it is likely to come against in 2019. With our extensive experience of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, it is the perfect place to test the car in a competitive environment as we sharpen areas of its development ahead of its homologation.”