Aston Martin Racing’s 2013 motorsport season will get underway this weekend (13-16 March) at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Florida, following extensive test sessions at Portimao and Road Atlanta. The new V8-powered Vantage GTE – a revised version of the race-winning 2012 Vantage GTE – will make its competitive debut ahead of Aston Martin Racing’s four-car campaign in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
The team will run a pair of Vantage GTEs in the American Le Mans Series season opener in the GT class. The 2013-specification #97 car will be driven by long-standing factory drivers Darren Turner (GB) and Stefan Mücke (D) alongside new signing Bruno Senna (BR), while the #007 machine – built to 2012 specifications – will be driven by Aston Martin Racing newcomers Billy Johnson (US), Pedro Lamy (PT), and Paul Dalla Lana (CA).
John Gaw, team principal at Aston Martin Racing, comments: “We have continued to focus on improving the Vantage GTE’s durability and drivability while optimising performance and have managed to complete some significant mileage in the two sessions at Portimao and Road Atlanta. The plan was to get two full lifecycles on the 2013 car before the start of the WEC season and we’re on track to do so. The cars both performed very well and we are pleased with the data we have gathered.
“We have new drivers to the team in the #007 car, but everyone is gelling well and working hard together and they had impressive pace at the Road Atlanta test. We’ll be pushing hard for the best result. We’re also pleased to announce that Richie Stanaway, who joined us at the test session, will now be at the Sebring promoter test with us on Monday.
“We always race to win, but Sebring is very much part of our 2013 pre-season test programme. If we can collect the data we require and achieve a podium with either car, we would have met our objectives.”
Factory driver Darren Turner comments: “It’s great to have so many fantastic drivers in the team. We had a good test session in Atlanta; the first day was cold so it was a bit more difficult to understand the car, but we still managed good mileage. Any minor issues were remedied quickly and effectively by the team, so we are pleased with progress. The second day was much warmer so we could really start to work on the car.
“If you look back at where we were last year to this year, we’re leaps and bounds ahead. I’m feeling positive going to Sebring.”
Team-mate Stefan Mücke comments: “The Road Atlanta test was good. We got two days of great running and any minor issues – which are to be expected in a test – were quickly sorted by the team. I’m looking forward to the Sebring promoter test day so we can get even more mileage on the car, get our race set-up running and so we can learn about the car’s reliability. Bruno did a great job at testing and I think he’s going to do well at Sebring.”
Newcomer to the team, Bruno Senna, comments: “I’m enjoying every minute. The drivers are really supportive and are helping me to understand GT racing. That includes everything from low-level things like driver changes right up to driving the car to get the most out of it. I’m looking forward to Sebring; it’s daunting but very exciting.”
Billy Johnson, from the #007 car, adds: “Testing went well and I really enjoyed being part of the Aston Martin Racing team; they’re a great bunch of people and I really appreciate the opportunity from John Gaw. The car is great to drive and I’m looking forward to seeing how things pan out for Sebring.”
The 12 Hours of Sebring starts at 1045h local time on Saturday, 16 March with qualifying for the GT class at 1335h on Friday, 15 March.