Aston Martin Racing experienced a successful weekend at the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps as the new Vantage GTE scored an encouraging double-points finish in its FIA World Endurance Championship debut. Reigning champions Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda also secured victory in the GTE Am class, leading a well-fought V8 Vantage GTE one-two across the finish line. AMR succeeded in meeting its objectives with the new Vantage GTE’s first competitive outing from strategy to pit-stop procedure, while gathering vital data which will serve them well throughout the season.
Even as some competitors ran into mechanical trouble, both new cars started the race well and progressed steadily up the grid. Driven by Maxime Martin, 2017 Le Mans-winner Jonny Adam and Alex Lynn, the #97 car finished sixth overall after an almost seamless run from lights to flag. Maxime Martin said, “I’m very pleased with how the car ran. We were able to maximise the package we had available and we found more balance in the car during the race. We have learned more about it in race conditions and I’m confident that we can take what we have brought here and build on it ahead of our attack on the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
The #95 car finished just behind them in seventh place overall, driven by three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner, Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen. Thiim performed well to bring the car home without losing position after it was damaged on the final lap by flying debris from colliding competitors. Darren Turner said, “I think from the team and driver’s point of view we’ve got the very best we can from this weekend. I have to say, I’m very happy with the car but the overall pace just meant we couldn’t mix It with the guys at the front. Obviously this is just the beginning and I’m really confident we can be there fighting for victories soon.”
His team-mate Nicki Thiim added, “That was a good weekend. It’s nice to be part of this again and to see everyone at the track and smiling. Standing here after the race with both cars finished and in the points without any issues is a great feeling and what we wanted. Regarding the pace, that’s how it is sometimes. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The car’s really got the potential and I can feel there’s some wins in there soon.”
It was a hard fought fourth consecutive victory at Spa for the factory GTE Am drivers. After Lauda pulled a brilliant overtake around the outside of Blanchimont and secured the lead for most of the race, Lamy found himself having to defend position on worn tyres against the TF Sport V8 Vantage GTE in the race’s final 30 minutes after their advantage was negated by a late Safety Car period. He said, “It was really close. We were 30s in front and I was quite relaxed when I got in the car for my final stint and then we had that safety car. There was nothing I could do but fight to keep the first place. The other Aston was really fast and he had new tyres, so I just kept pushing. Here it is easy to be in front because you can carry more speed into the fast corners than the guys following.”
Team Principal Paul Howarth concluded with these words, “This weekend was all about executing and we brought home all our cars in point-scoring positions and secured a classic victory in the GTE Am class. The drivers delivered the maximum performance and we delivered on the potential available from the package we came here with. 14-points is a good haul from this brand new car. The GTE Am victory was exciting and it was great to see that two Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTEs finished a lap ahead of the competition.” The 2018 FIA WEC Super Season picks up the action next at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16th.