AM World Racing Season

Aston Martin Racing enjoyed a successful season in 2012 culminating in victory in Shanghai


Aston Martin Racing enjoyed a successful season in 2012 culminating in victory in Shanghai and there’s even more to look forward to this year

2013 WEC Calendar

After a successful return to GTE Racing in 2012, coming second place overall in class, Aston Martin Racing aim to go one better in 2013.

SILVERSTONE, United Kingdom 14 April
LE MANS, France 22-23 June
JOSÉ CARLOS PACE, Brazil 1 September
AMERICAS, United States 22 September
FUJI SPEEDWAY, Japan 20 October
SHANGHAI, China 10 November
BAHRAIN, Bahrain 30 November

It really was a case of saving the best till last for Aston Martin racing in 2012. The season finished on a high with victory at the Six Hours of Shanghai, the final round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), and an overall second place in the highly competitive GTE Pro championship standings. The team’s maiden WEC race win rounded off a superb run of six consecutive podium finishes to prove the pace and reliability of the V8-powered Vantage GTE.

“Shanghai was a highlight of the season and a reward for all the hard work that the team put in,” says David King, Aston Martin’s Head of Motorsport. “We displayed a race-winning pace, which was the result of the car and the team just getting better and better over the course of the season. I look back over the year with a lot of satisfaction. We returned to sports cars, which are closely related to Aston Martin—they look great and they sound great. It was fabulous to see Vantages and Vantage GTEs racing at the highest level, which demonstrates their reliability and speed—something we have very clearly done.”

The team springs into action at a pit stop during the final race of the 2012 World Endurance Championship in Shanghai

The team springs into action at a pit stop during the final race of the 2012 World Endurance Championship in Shanghai

Team principal John Gaw adds: “It was a fantastic way to finish the season. We went to Shanghai with the goal of beating Porsche and aiming for a win and to achieve both was a great achievement for the team. For the last three rounds of the championship, we changed pit-stop routines and personnel and it improved our performance versus our competitors by a significant number of seconds.

“Our objectives for our return year to GT racing were to be competitive and score podiums and we were able to return to our base in Banbury confident that we had achieved and exceeded these. We finished seven out of the eight races and scored podiums on all of those.”

The only race that the team did not manage to finish was Le Mans, but King is confident the lessons will be learned when the team returns to the famous French track in June. “It is very hard with just one car as you are putting all your eggs in one basket. We will hopefully take two cars there this year and have a real crack at winning our class.”

If Le Mans proved something of a learning curve in 2012, then that other famous track, the Nürburgring, provided much reason for Aston Martin Racing to feel a sense of satisfaction over the weekend of its legendary 24-hour race. In addition to a pair of V12 Vantage GT3s, the marque also fielded a V12 Zagato and a Vantage GT4 in the SP8 category, while a further four customer cars competed, meaning eight Aston Martins participated overall.

“The Nürburgring 24 Hour is the other place where our main rivals compete and we will be aiming to win it outright in 2013,” says King. “We dipped our toe in the water last year and showed we were very quick at times.”

Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez, who enjoyed the honour of crossing the finish line in the V12 Zagato, agrees: “The Nürburgring 24 Hour is the greatest and most competitive GT race in the world. It is the most demanding on people and cars. It’s important to me that Aston Martin wins this race; we have to show that a relatively small, exclusive company can compete with the big ones, especially in a race as challenging as this one. Aston Martin was founded in 1913 and this brand at least deserves an effort to win this race in 2013.”

Looking ahead to this year, King says the other major development is the return of Aston Martin Racing to the North American market: “It’s a big move for us to have a racing presence in the USA, as it’s our biggest market.”

Aston Martin Works Driver Darren Turner celebrates victory at the Chinese track

Aston Martin Works Driver Darren Turner celebrates victory at the Chinese track

The full portfolio of race cars — Vantage GTE, V12 Vantage GT3 and V8 Vantage GT4 — will be seen across the States in a partnership with TRG (The Racer’s Group), which aims to bring Aston Martin race cars to all of the country’s major sports-car racing series. The TRG programme will kick off with V8 Vantage GT4s in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

One final highlight of 2012 took place at Le Mans prior to the main race when the Aston Martin Le Mans Festival witnessed 31 Aston Martin-built racing cars competing in a 45-minute race on the Circuit de la Sarthe; the Vantage GT2 of Villois Racing triumphed in the unique event. The festival also saw the return of the legendary 1959 Le Mans-winning DBR1 to the scene of its greatest victory. The DBR1 participated in the pre-race parade lap, with Dr Bez at the wheel, in tribute to the men who drove it to victory — Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori — and its designer Ted Cutting, all of whom sadly passed away in the weeks leading up to the race. “There was a real tingle seeing Dr Bez driving it around,” recalls David King. “It is such a wonderful car.”

Other Highlights

The debut race of the 2013 V8 Vantage GTE and new signing Bruno Senna, who will share the car with Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke.

After a successful Nürburgring 24 Hour race in 2012, Astom Martin will field its most ambitious entry yet in the marque’s centenary year.