Aston Martin Racing topped the timing sheets in both GTE classes at the official 24 Hours of Le Mans test session today and, despite changing weather conditions, the team was able to thoroughly prepare all five Gulf-liveried Vantage GTEs ahead of the 24-hour race in two weeks’ time.
In the eight-hour session, which was hampered at times by rain, the crews working on each of the V8-powered chargers worked closely with their drivers to fine-tune the new Le Mans-specific aero package as well as completing the standard pre-race set up practices. When the test day ended, it was the #97 Vantage GTE that had recorded the fastest time in the GTE Pro class with the #96 Vantage GTE taking the top spot in the Am class. The team also secured the second fastest time in each category.
Peter Dumbreck (GB), who set the fastest GTE lap of the day aboard the #97 Vantage GTE with a time of 3:58.806, comments: “First of all, for me it’s a chance to get time in the Vantage GTE. So far this year I haven’t done many miles in the car. After eight years, I’m back at Le Mans and re-learning the track. I started in the wet, but finished in the dry and got a clear lap. It’s been a great start to my Le Mans.”
“It’s so impressive what Aston Martin Racing has done with the new garage set-up – it’s a big year for us, being the centenary year. The race should be interesting – each car has a great driver line-up and each could win its class.”
Jamie Campbell-Walter (GB), fastest in GTE Am in the #96 car with a time of 4:00.867, adds: “The car is obviously very good. The most important thing here is that the car is comfortable. Yes, speed is important, but you need a comfortable car and we certainly have that. We are here first and foremost to test the car, but to be fastest is great and bodes well for the race in two weeks’ time.”
In addition, Aston Martin Racing’s three Le Mans “rookie” drivers – Paul Dalla Lana (CN), Jonny Adam (GB) and Richie Stanaway (NZ) completed the 10 mandatory laps required in order to race in the 24 Hour of Le Mans in two weeks’ time.
Under race regulations, all drivers must have completed ten laps of the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe before they can compete in the 24-hour race. Works team driver Dalla Lana and Aston Martin Racing’s two reserve drivers Adam and Stanaway were the only three in the team’s 17-strong driver line-up not to have raced at Le Mans before.
Aston Martin Racing’s Team Principal, John Gaw, comments: “We came here with three objectives; to finalise our race set up for each car, to give all drivers time on track and to ensure our three Le Mans rookie drivers completed their 10 laps. We are happy to go back to the UK having achieved them all.
“It was important to ensure all three drivers completed their laps so we focused on getting it done early in the session. With five cars and 15 drivers competing in the race, we needed to have two reserve drivers to step in if required and that’s where Jonny and Richie come into the equation. Hopefully, they won’t be needed during the race, but they will certainly have benefitted from coming here, completing their rookie laps and being part of the team.
Jonny Adam adds: “It went really well. Obviously, ten laps of an 8.5-mile circuit takes up a large chunk of the session so we worked on some mapping while I clocked them up. It was a great experience. I took it easy at first and built up to it but the conditions were constantly changing out there, the grip levels were really up and down.”
John Gaw concludes: “All-in-all the session went well and we are looking forward to the race. We are celebrating Aston Martin’s centenary year in 2013 and we hope to come away from the race with results that suitably mark the occasion.”
MEDIA RELEASE FROM ASTON MARTIN RACING