Aston Martin Racing is aiming high as it returns to the FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone (GB), the competitive home of the luxury sportscar brand, on 31 August, with an optimised version of its Vantage GTE, a strengthened driver line-up and an eye-catching new livery.
Coming off the back of an excellent debut season for the Vantage GTE, which established itself as a front-runner in a fiercely-contested GTE Pro class with victories in Shanghai and Spa-Francorchamps and a pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Aston Martin Racing is now focussed on regaining the FIA WEC GTE Pro and Am titles it last won in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Moreover the racing car, based on the critically-acclaimed Aston Martin Vantage road car, will make its class debut in GTE Am with a bold new driver roster of Paul Dalla Lana (CDN), Darren Turner (GB), and Ross Gunn (GB).
“I’m really looking forward to joining Paul and Ross in the #98 car and challenging for the 2019/20 GTE Am championship,” said three-time Le Mans class winner Turner. “It’s going to be very hard work and I think it is going to be the most competitive season in the category, with some very quick cars and some very strong line-ups. Paul is an extremely talented driver with a great deal of experience in the WEC and as a package we are very strong.”
Gunn added: “It’s an honour to be joining the works Aston Martin Racing team for the start of the FIA WEC season. I’m very excited to begin this new chapter of my career at the pinnacle of GT racing and I will be pushing for a solid result.”
And while the GTE Pro class field has reduced in number for ‘Season 8’, the strength in depth is as formidable as ever as Aston Martin’s old rivals Ferrari and Porsche also return. With that in mind, Aston Martin Racing’s exceptional GTE Pro driver line-up remains unchanged for this season, with Nicki Thiim (DEN) and Marco Sørensen (DEN) returning to their regular #95 ‘Dane Train’, while Alex Lynn (GB) and Maxime Martin (BEL) once again occupy the #97 Vantage GTE.
“We are coming in to Silverstone far better prepared and with a better package than last year,” said Martin. “It’s going to be a really tough fight with our rivals as they are really competitive, and as a team we will have to put everything together to be able to win and be at the front consistently. The target for everybody is to try and win the championship this year with the Vantage GTE.”
Thiim added: “The car is only one season old, and because the season was so long, sometimes people forget that it has only done eight races! We are really proud of what it has achieved already. Now we want to attack the championship and I really want to bring it back to the ‘Dane Train’ along with Marco and the rest of the team.”
As well as the new colour scheme, the team has used the off-season break to use the knowledge gained in the eight-race ‘Super Season’ to further improve and enhance the Vantage GTE, which will also benefit from a new suite of tyres from technical partner Michelin specifically designed around the car.
There are changes to the WEC season format too, with the Silverstone opener and the Shanghai round (10 November) shortened to 4 Hours, while Bahrain returns to the calendar on 14 December with a 8-Hour race and Brazil on 1 February with a 6-Hour event at Interlagos. The season will conclude with the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans on 13-14 June.
John Gaw, Aston Martin Racing Managing Director summed up: “We are fully ready for the new FIA WEC season and we can look ahead to it with a measure of confidence given our form at the end of last season, where we won two of the last three races and were on pole for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We’re relishing the opportunity to fight against our old rivals Porsche and Ferrari, for together the three brands are the longest-serving teams in the championship. Our driver line-up is very strong and all the GTE Pro drivers are capable of delivering race-winning performances, and they will need to be if we are to deliver on our targets. We have changed the GTE Am line-up after a long period of stability and we expect this to produce results. This is a great opportunity for Ross to prove his ability at world level, while I think we are all fully aware of what Darren is capable of, and this gives him a chance to fight for a world championship and capture a fourth Le Mans victory.”
David King, President of Aston Martin Racing said: “After 18 months of sustained development and improvement, which culminated in the Vantage GTE being a double-race winner and a pace-setter in qualifying at Le Mans, we are now ready to challenge for world championship titles again at the highest level of sportscar racing. Vantage GTE has already proved itself to be an exceptional car, in keeping with the traditions and standards of its predecessors. As the current standard-bearer for Aston Martin Racing, much rests on this car, this exceptional team and its outstanding group of drivers’ ability to get the maximum performance from it and deliver on all the promise we’ve shown so far.”
The 4 Hours of Silverstone begins at 1200 BST on 1 September.