Over the course of last weekend, Aston Martin Racing’s partner teams represented the marquee across five separate motor racing series, racking up no fewer than four podium results. Three variations of the Vantage racing car scored two class victories over one weekend of fiercely competitive motorsport action.
The first of the class victories came at the opening round of the Nürburgring-based VLN series as Team Mathol Racing’s Vantage GT4 prevailed in the SP10 category, continuing where it left off last season having dominated the GT4 class in the ten-race VLN endurance series. The V12-engined Vantage GT3, meanwhile, made its competitive debut in the thriving ADAC GT Masters series at Oschersleben, Germany, in the hands of Young Driver AMR with the pairing of Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen scoring victory in the amateur class in the first of two races. Further podium results followed in VLN, with Aston Martin’s own test centre team scoring second and third in the SP8 category with a Vantage GT3 and GT4 respectively. Multimatic Motorsports rounded out a successful weekend for Aston Martin Racing’s partner teams with second overall in the North American Grand-Am series.
In partnership with the Toronto-based outfit, Aston Martin contested the second round of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama, with a pair of Grand Sport class Vantage GT4s. The #55 car of series regulars Joe Foster and Scott Maxwell missed out on its maiden Grand-Am victory by a scant 0.5 seconds after two and a half hours of competition. The result bodes well for the remainder of the 11-round championship, which sees Aston Martin do battle with six- and eight-cylinder GT racers on its return to domestic competition in North America.
The second Multimatic-run Vantage GT4 of Hollywood movie star Patrick Dempsey and open-wheeler veteran Tonis Kasemets was unfortunately sidelined after being involved in an incident on lap three. The third round of the championship will be run at the Homestead Miami Speedway on April 28, with the team targeting the top step of the podium.
Aston Martin’s partnership with Young Driver AMR yielded six race wins in the FIA GT1 World Championship during 2010 and 2011, so its was fitting that the German squad should have the privilege of giving the new Vantage GT3 its competitive debut as the relationship progresses to encompass a full ADAC GT Masters programme. The driver pairing of Ferdinand and Johannes Stuck – sons of celebrated German racer Hans-Joachim Stuck – missed out on a top-ten result after being handed a five second penalty after race two, instead netting 16th in the highly competitive series.
Nygaard and Poulsen, meanwhile, proved the Vantage GT3’s potential with eighth in race one – during which the crew also prevailed in the amateur category – and 11th in race two. Young Driver AMR now looks ahead to round two of the series on May 5/6 at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.
The Nürburgring has become a second home for Aston Martin’s Vantage, the most sporting car in the marque’s model lineup. The V8-powered coupe has competed at the punishing German circuit since 2006; its championship glory in the VLN series in the hands of Team Mathol Racing last year proved the car’s enduring competitive qualities. Victory in round one of the 2012 championship for Team Mathol Racing suggests that the outfit will mount a stern title defense this season. Of the top nine SP10 class finishers at the opening VLN race, five were Aston Martin Vantage GT4s.
John Gaw, Managing Director of Aston Martin Racing, said: “I’m delighted at the results this weekend from all our partner teams, including those in Grand-Am, but of particular significance were those of Young Driver AMR on the race debut of the new Vantage GT3. Winning the amateur class first time out was really important to us as one of the design principles of the car was to make it easy to drive for all standards of driver.
“The second main design principle of the new Vantage GT3 was to build a car that does not need expensive upgrades annually to increase performance. We ran this weekend with the most recent version of the FIA Balance Of Performance criteria, which added weight to the car and restricted the engine’s performance. Therefore, the Vantage GT3 clearly has lots more potential and we’ll continue to work with the FIA to achieve the correct Balance Of Performance.”
David King, Aston Martin’s Head of Motorsport, added: “To have three different racing versions of Vantage, including the brand new V12 Vantage GT3, performing so strongly at the start of the season is a stunning endorsement of the capabilities of the base road car. Aston Martin's super-stiff and lightweight bonded aluminum platform and ideal weight distribution makes the perfect base for a competitive race car – most clearly demonstrated by the continuing success of the almost standard Vantage GT4."
Aston Martin was also represented in the Japanese Super GT series at Okayama and the European Le Mans Series at the Six Hours of Le Castellet, France. Triple A and Gulf Racing AMR each campaigned a Vantage GT2 – the predecessor to the Vantage GTE that forms the basis of Aston Martin Racing’s factory FIA World Endurance Championship campaign – with the former scoring 11th in class and the latter a fine fourth in the GTE Am category, despite a 25 minute delay following a collision with a prototype racer.
The Vantage GT3 will make its UK debut this Easter weekend in the hands of Beechdean Motorsport at Oulton Park as it tackles round one of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship. The factory Aston Martin Racing team, meanwhile, will compete in the second of its three scheduled American Le Mans Series races at Long Beach, California, on April 14 with the works Vantage GTE.