Aston Martin Racing glory as new Vantage GTE makes debut

  • Aston Martin’s new Vantage GTE completes trouble-free debut at Spa

  • GTE Am champions lead home an Aston one-two in class

  • New GTE Pro contender bags a double-points finish as Super Season kicks off

Saturday 5 May, Spa-Francorchamps: Aston Martin Racing’s new Vantage GTE recorded an encouraging double-points finish on its debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season opener, the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

Meanwhile in GTE Am, the team’s reigning champions Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda made a victorious start to their title defence, leading home an Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE one-two as they finished ahead of the customer-owned TF Sport example.

The team’s weekend objectives with the new turbo-charged V8-powered Vantage GTE, based on the critically-acclaimed Vantage road car, were faultlessly executed across all aspects of the weekend from strategy to pit-stop procedure, gathering vital data under competitive conditions for the first time.

Both cars ran faultlessly in the early stages of the race and moved steadily up the order as rivals ran in to trouble. Achieving a near-seamless run to the flag, team debutant Maxime Martin (B) finished sixth in the #97 car he shared with 2017 Le Mans-winner Jonny Adam (GB) and Alex Lynn (GB) – also in his first race with Aston Martin Racing.

“I’m very pleased with how the car ran,” said Maxime Martin. “We were able to maximise the package we had available and we found more balance in the car during the race. We have learned more about it in race conditions and I’m confident that we can take what we have brought here and build on it ahead of our attack on the Le Mans 24 Hours.”

And, having run never more than 15s apart throughout the six-hour race, Nicki Thiim (DN), Marco Sørensen (DN) and three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner finished behind them in seventh in the #95 car. Thiim did a great job in the closing stages to nurse the car home after it picked up damage from flying debris when his rivals collided on the penultimate lap.

Darren Turner said: “I think from the team and driver’s point of view we’ve got the very best we can from this weekend. I have to say, I’m very happy with the car but the overall pace just meant we couldn’t mix It with the guys at the front. Obviously this is just the beginning and I’m really confident we can be there fighting for victories soon”.

Turner’s #95 team-mate Nicki Thiim said: “That was a good weekend. It’s nice to be part of this again and to see everyone at the track and smiling. Standing here after the race with both cars finished and in the points without any issues is a great feeling and what we wanted. Regarding the pace, that’s how it is sometimes. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The car’s really got the potential and I can feel there’s some wins in there soon”.

The GTE Am drivers had to fight hard for their fourth consecutive victory at Spa. Having led for most of the race, thanks in part to a brilliant overtake for the lead by Lauda around the outside of the super-fast Blanchimont, Lamy was forced to defend through the last 30 minutes on old tyres after a late Safety Car eliminated their advantage over the TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE.

Pedro Lamy said: “It was really close. We were 30s in front and I was quite relaxed when I got in the car for my final stint and then we had that safety car. There was nothing I could do but fight to keep the first place. The other Aston was really fast and he had new tyres, so I just kept pushing. Here it is easy to be in front because you can carry more speed into the fast corners than the guys following.”

Paul Howarth, Team Principal, summed up: “This weekend was all about executing and we brought home all our cars in point-scoring positions and secured a classic victory in the GTE Am class. The drivers delivered the maximum performance and we delivered on the potential available from the package we came here with. 14-points is a good haul from this brand new car. The GTE Am victory was exciting and it was great to see that two Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTEs finished a lap ahead of the competition.”

The next round of the FIA WEC Super Season will be the Le Mans 24 Hours on 16th June.

Signatech Alpine Matmut battles back for a podium finish at Spa-Francorchamps

  • The FIA WEC World Endurance Championship began today with the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium).

  • Signatech Alpine Matmut got the first pole of the year in the LMP2 category.

  • Despite a severe drive-through penalty early in the race, Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet put in a fantastic comeback drive to get their campaign off to a strong start with a large points haul.

  • The team will now start its preparation for the 24-Hours of Le Mans with the June 3rd Test Day in sight.

     

Contested in ideal Spring-like weather, the three free-practice sessions allowed Signatech Alpine Matmut to fine-tune the set-ups on the Alpine A470 and to correct over-steering issues they encountered early in the weekend.

Everything fell into place during a qualifying session marked by two long interruptions that slowed the No. 36 in its tracks. Associated with Pierre Thiriet, Nicloas Lapierre kept his cool to set the benchmark time in LMP2 and gave the team the first pole of the season by 0.024s.

On Saturday, the temperature was even warmer for the start of the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps at 13:30 in front of the packed grandstands.

Forced wide at turn one, Nicolas Lapierre had to straddle the kerb and dropped to seventh place. The early woes continued when the Frenchman received a drive-through penalty when the race direction felt that the return to the track had been done outside the regulations.

Nicolas Lapierre served his penalty before Pierre Thiriet took over in the first round of pit stops. The Silver driver showed speed and consistency on his double-stint as he made the most of the safety car period to make up ground and move up to fourth place.

Just after half-distance, André Negrão headed on to the track in third position before overtaking Weiron Tan during his triple-stint. Nicolas Lapierre then got back in the car behind the n°26 G-Drive.

As the final hour began, another safety car intervention wiped out the advantage that was patiently built by the crew. Signatech Alpine Matmut took advantage to bring Nicolas Lapierre in after his second stint.

André Negrão got back in the car to finish the race. After getting the absolute most out of his tyres to build a lead from his closest rivals, the Brazilian driver dropped behind Ho-Pin Tung on the last stint. The n°36 Alpine A470 took the chequered flag in third place.

Signatech Alpine Matmut will now turn its attention towards the 24-Hours of Le Mans, which will kick off on the June 3rd Test Day.

WEC at Spa-Francorchamps

What they said

Philippe Sinault, Signatech Alpine Matmut Team Principal   « This new season began with a pole position and a podium. This shows that our level of performance and our drivers were on point. Unfortunately, we had a complicated start to the race when Nicolas was pushed wide and got boxed in. In the heat of the moment, he played it safe, but received a penalty for returning to the track too early over the kerb. So, we opted for an aggressive strategy hoping for a safety car. This put us into second place for a long time behind the G-Drive, which was ineligible for points. Alas, the safety car in the final hour cost us a lot in destroying our fourty-second lead. For the final run to the flag, the guys behind us were on new tyres while we had used all of ours trying to make up ground. We still have to work on the consistency and wear of the tyres, but our three drivers gel together nicely. This should be one of or strong suits this season. Now the time has come to go into ‘Le Mans’ mode. Like each year, we will put in a new engine, new gearbox and new running gear. The next few weeks will be intense as we try to anticipate all the possible scenarios for the June Classic. »

Nicolas Lapierre wec

Nicolas Lapierre:   «We are starting the season on a solid foundationwith a good overall cohesion and purperformance that saw us get the pole yesterday. The team got everything sorted out between the free-practice sessions and a tough qualifying session with two red flags. At the start, there was some confusion among the LMP1 cars and I had to go on to the other side of the curbing. The race director felt that I didn’t return to the track in the proper manner. Yes, the penalty was harsh, but it is my responsibility. Like the entire team, I can’t wait for the next challenges. »

 

 

 

André Negrão WEC

André Negrão:   «It is a good result, but we    could’ve done better. Pierreand Nico did a fantastic job in getting the pole. It is a shame though that the hectic start penalised us just until the end of the race. We made up all the lost time, but the end of the race was tough with very used tyres. We need to continue to work in this area for the 24-Hours, but we will be back even stronger for Le Mans.  »

 

 

 

 

 

Pierre Thiriet WECPierre Thiriet:   «Although it is always disappointing not to win, we will get there in the long run and this is an excellent result. There are a lot of positive points in the way we carried on after some complicated free-practice sessions. Today, I had a lot of fun in the close fights while trying to stay in touch with the leaders in traffic. Our slightly offset strategy didn’t really work out. We need to work more on our race pace, but I have every confidence in the team.  »

Standings

Total 6 Heures de Spa-Francorchamps – LMP2

1. G-Drive Racing n°26 – 156 laps
2. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°38 +21.714s
3. Signatech Alpine Matmut n°36 +55.737s
4. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°37 + 1 lap
5. TDS Racing n°28 + 1 lap
6. DragonSpeed n°31 + 1 lap
7. Larbre Competition n°50 + 4 laps
8. Racing Team Nederland n°29 + 17 laps

FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2*

1. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°38 – 25 points
2. Signatech Alpine Matmut n°36 – 19 points
3. Jackie Chan DC Racing n°37 – 15 points
4. TDS Racing n°28 – 12 points
5. DragonSpeed n°31 – 10 points
6. Larbre Competition n°50 – 8 points
7. Racing Team Nederland n°29 – 6 points
*Not entered for the WEC Super Season, the n°26 G-Drive is ineligible to score points.

MotoGP World Championship – Spain

Morbidelli makes the top ten

After a tough weekend in Texas, Franco Morbidelli was back on the right track in Jerez, making his first top ten in MotoGP.

The Races

Fifteenth on the starting grid, Morbidelli had a good start and sneaked through the traffic on the first lap. « I was able to take over quickly,»   says the Honda rider. «I tried to spare my tires for the second part of the race but at the end I still had to use them to be sure to finish in the top ten. It’s a good thing for the team and also for my confidence before the next races.»   Tom Lüthi fell ten laps from the finish when he was in fourteenth position. In Moto2, Alex Marquez rode two laps in the lead before letting Lorenzo Baldassari take over the Spanish Grand Prix. The Spaniard stayed on the leader’s heels until he fell just before halfway.   «I was at the limit »    he explained.   « I lacked grip on the rear wheel and I ended up by crashing.»    Ill since the start of the weekend and weakened by stomach pains, Joan Mir kept sixth place for a few laps before losing contact with the leaders to cross the finish line in eleventh position.

The Championship

In recording his first Did Not Finish of the season, Alex Marquez has dropped back to fifth place in the Moto2 world championship. Joan Mir remains in seventh position. In MotoGP, Morbidelli has climbed back from seventeenth to thirteenth place.

The Background

Ninth at the finish of the Spanish Grand Prix, Franco Morbidelli won his first MotoGP podium on the Jerez circuit. Quite a performance for the Moto2 World Championship title holder. His teammate, Tom Lüthi, is still racing after his first point in the premier-class category. Injured in late 2017 and forced to wait until the end of January to get his Honda RC213V, the Swiss rider has now taken the measure of the difficulties that face beginners.«In fact, many riders of a certain level in other championships think that MotoGP is not that complicated,» says Gille Bigot, his chief mechanic. «But it’s not so simple. In MotoGP you have a host of settings that keep your mind busy. In Moto2, things are simple. You have a front tire, two rear tires, and no electronics … Once you’ve found the right chassis / suspension match and the engine gives you speed, you have everything you need. You have 125 horsepower under the saddle, you can open and close the throttle without it having too much effect. In MotoGP, you have 280 horsepower in the engine and when you play with the throttle the response is very different.»

Time to go racing with the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE

  • Aston Martin Vantage GTE to make its racing debut at Spa-Francorchamps

  • Team confident car is competitive and reliable ahead of season

  • Aston Martin Racing begins historic Super Season with world class driver line-up

Tuesday 1 May, Spa-Francorchamps: The new Aston Martin Vantage GTE will make its longawaited debut in the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) Super Season at the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps this weekend (3-5 May).

The Aston Martin Vantage GTE is based on the critically-acclaimed Aston Martin Vantage road car, the most performance oriented sports car to come from Aston Martin’s ‘Second Century Plan’.
Powered by a 4.0-litre, V8 turbo-charged AMG engine developed and optimised by AMR, the Vantage GTE is the first all-new GT car Aston Martin has introduced to the FIA WEC GTE category in seven years.

Following an extensive 10-month testing and development programme that has covered 35,000km and 14 different circuits, the team is confident that it has a competitive and reliable car capable of repeating Aston Martin Racing’s 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours glory in June and contending for the overall Super Season GTE Pro title.

Aston Martin Racing also boasts a world class driving line-up in 2018. The GTE Pro roster includes three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner, who is joined in the #95 car by 2016 FIA WEC
GTE Pro champions Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen. Meanwhile, 2017 Le Mans winner Jonny Adam shares the #97 entry with DTM and Spa 24 Hours race-winner Maxime Martin (B) and Formula 1 test driver and Formula E racer Alex Lynn (GB).

The Vantage GTE replaces the highly-decorated normally-aspirated V8 Vantage GTE, an example of which will be campaigned by Aston Martin Racing’s reigning GTE Am champions Paul Dalla Lana (CDN), Mathias Lauda (A) and Pedro Lamy (POR) in this year.

The Super Season heralds a new era for the FIA WEC. The eight-race calendar spans 14 months and is book-ended by two 24 Hours of Le Mans – the first time in history that the legendary event has appeared twice in the same championship. The series will also return to SpaFrancorchamps in 2019, having raced at iconic venues such as Silverstone, Fuji, Shanghai and the famous US sportscar circuit Sebring in between.

aston martin WEC

What they said

Aston Martin Racing Technical Director Dan Sayers said:  « I can’t wait to get started now. We have delivered our most extensive testing programme with the Vantage GTE, optimising every aspect   of the car and bringing it to a point where we are satisfied that it is competitive and reliable. With it being the first all-new AMR car in seven years, this has been a huge undertaking and a fantastic   effort by the whole team. I’m very proud of the car’s reliability and performance out of the box, but there really hasn’t been any time yet to look forward to going racing with it, maybe there will be   time to reflect after Spa!  »

Aston Martin Racing Team Principal Paul Howarth added: « All of the pre-season development and testing has been targeted at Aston Martin Racing’s performance and delivery across the 2018/19 super-season. Spa marks AMR’s first race with the new Vantage and the whole team is looking forward to completing the first FIA WEC race with our new model. Our revised driver lineup has also completed an intensive training programme over the winter period, including a week’s training camp in the south of France and intensive endurance tests, so they are prepared for the challenge ahead. We’ll also continue to compete with last year’s reigning AM champions in #98 V8 Vantage GTE – in its swansong season with the same driver line up. Spa equates to 9% of the overall points available in the championship and the whole team’s focus is on delivering the   best race possible for AMR.»

Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer David King said : « The outgoing Vantage has been competing on-track since 2006, and in the FIA WEC GTE class since its inception in 2012, so the racing debut of the new Vantage in Spa this weekend is a very significant moment for Aston Martin. Endurance racing defines the very character of our sports and GT cars – durability, performance and driveability – and they remain the best-looking cars on the grid as always. The   super-season is going to be longer and tougher than any previous season, but the team have executed the development plan and pre-season testing clinically to be as ready as we can be for the debut of an all-new car.»

Additional Information

  • Spa represents the FIA WEC AMR debut for Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn

  • The Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE testing programme visited 14 circuits: Abu Dhabi, Almeria, Andalucia, Aragon, Donington Park, Monza, Navarra, Paul Ricard, Pembrey, Portimao, Rockingham, Sebring, Snetterton, Spa-Francorchamps

  • The new car has covered a total of 35,000km in testing

Works driver quotes

Marco Sørensen (DEN), #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:«I am really excited to get this season started. The whole winter of testing with the new car has now come to an end and we can finally get to that first race weekend. My expectations going in to Spa are very high. I know the car is good enough to win races and I genuinely feel that we have the best driver line-up in the paddock. Of course, we need to learn a lot from Spa as Le Mans is so soon after, but we are already in a good position. Aston Martin has changed a lot since I joined in 2015. Our professionalism has grown along with our experience and I’m super proud to be a part of that. For every driver, it’s very special to work closely with a manufacturer, but my focus this year is to get the results we deserve with the new Vantage GTE.»

Nicki Thiim (DEN), #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:«Spa… finally, finally, finally! It has been a long and busy winter. This is the first time as an Aston Martin factory driver that I have had such a busy winter; there has been so much exciting stuff going on with the new Vantage GTE car. We have done a lot of mileage and I think we are well prepared. There is a lot that is new about the car, including turbos (!), so it’s an exciting time for not just the drivers, but also the engineers and the mechanics. As a driver I can’t wait to go to Spa. I’m interested to see where we are compared to the competition when everyone is driving on the same fuel load and the same tyres at the same time. It’s going to be so nice to get out and race. Being a factory racing driver is a real privilege, it’s such a small club, so you must appreciate your position and not take it for granted, but right now Aston Martin is very exciting and a cool place to be. It’s something very special to be part of a new car development programme. Whatever I do in my career, this will always be something special to look back on when I am old and retired!»

Darren Turner (GB), #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:«Since testing of the new Vantage GTE began in August last year everyone in the team has been looking forward to this moment. We have completed many miles in testing and already feel confident with the performance of the new car. I’m so excited about Spa where we finally get the chance to go up against the competition. From everything we have seen, we have a very good car. It feels good behind the wheel and that is always a strong sign that you have a great race car. The hardest thing when you have a new car is knowing where you stack up against the competition. A podium with the car first time out would be incredible and we go there believing that is possible. It’s always massively exciting when you have a new car. We had some incredible high points with the old V8 Vantage GTE last year, but right now I’ve never felt such a buzz within Aston Martin Racing and I cannot wait to get to Le Mans this year to see how well the new Vantage GTE performs»

Jonny Adam (GB), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:«I’m very much looking forward to getting   the 2018 FIA WEC Super Season underway and driving the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE on its debut race. A lot of hard work has gone in to it up to this point and everyone at AMR is looking forward to Spa. Expectations are to get a solid haul of points and see where we are in comparison to our competition. The car has been running well in testing and we’d like to carry that over into our first race weekend of 2018. Of course, the race we all look forward to is the Le Mans 24 Hours. The success of 2017 will always be remembered, but I think we as a team are excited to return to this amazing race and hopefully fight for a strong result with our new GTE car.»

Alex Lynn (GB), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:«I’m very excited indeed to be making my Aston Martin debut with the new Vantage GTE. There has been a lot of preparation up until this point from everyone at AMR and now we are very ready to see what our new creation can do. I
think we can certainly expect a lot, and my expectations are high. We have put very good mileage on the car and it performed brilliantly, so we would be kidding ourselves if we didn’t expect to be fighting for the win at Spa-Francorchamps. I guess there has never been a better time to join
Aston Martin Racing as a factory driver! I guess I am biased, but there is a real buzz within the team and I can’t wait to get to Spa now, but if I am honest, Le Mans and Silverstone are the races I am looking forward to the most”
»

Maxime Martin (B), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE:«“I am really looking forward to starting a new chapter in my career with the new Vantage GTE. This is definitely a big point in the season and an exciting moment for Aston Martin Racing. Spa is always a great event, but of course I think the most exciting point over the year will be racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours, which is going to be quite a challenging race with all the competitors in the GTE class now. I think it is the most competitive and exciting GT class in the world. I think we have everything at Aston Martin Racing to make it an even bigger success than with the other car. I’m so excited to finally be racing in the FIA WEC Super Season with the Vantage GTE»

 

Signatech Alpine Matmut storms into a new FIA WEC season

  • The World Endurance Championship, the FIA WEC begins this weekend on the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

  • Signatech Alpine Matmut enters one Alpine A470 for the team of Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet.

  • The 2016 World Champions are among the favourites for the win in the LMP2 category.

The World Endurance Championship heads to one of the most demanding circuits around – Spa-Francorchamps – to kick-off the new season. In the heart of the Belgian Ardennes forest, this favourite track among the bravest of drivers combines an undulating profile with an ensemble of technical corners, emphasising both a deft touch behind the wheel and a perfect set-up.

Beyond being the opening round of the season, the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps is often considered to be a dress rehearsal for the 24-Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17.

And yet, Signatech Alpine Matmut didn’t wait to head to Belgium to perfect its preparation. After the official FIA WEC Prologue, the team competed in round one the ELMS, the 4 Hours of Circuit Paul Ricard.

André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet finished fifth in the Alpine A470 after having led for most of the race. It was a solid run when taking into account that that a crew of two drivers races with a regulation disadvantage in terms of the driving time allotted for the Silver-level driver. In any case, the objective to allow Pierre Thiriet to accumulate a maximum number of miles, before the debut of the FIA WEC, was reached.

At Spa- Francorchamps, the n°36 crew will be complete. The lead driver of the trio, Nicolas Lapierre will bring his vast experience to guide his teammates with the goal of maximizing their level of performance. Consistency, reliability, control of fuel consumption and tire wear management will once again be the keys to a successful race.

Among the 37 cars entered for this first round of the season, eight are in the LMP2 category. The arrival of new teams, a new chassis, a new tyre manufacturer and a driver transfer market that was so intense that there isn’t a single line-up identical to last season. However, Signatech Alpine Matmut demonstrates a certain amount of stability, with two of the three drivers already present in 2017 and a well-established technical structure. The goal will be to take advantage of this cohesion to be successful in the season opening round.

The cars will be on track beginning on Thursday with two free-practice sessions. After a third session Friday morning, qualifying will take place at 15h35. The Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will start at 13h30 on Saturday May 5.

Philippe Sinault, Team principal Signatech Alpine Matmut
« The kick-off to the season has finally come. We will all show what we’ve got to see a hierarchy emerge. In our case, we feel that we have worked well this winter. The main objective, which consisted of integrating Pierre Thiriet into the driving team already made up of Nicolas Lapierre and André Negrão, has been achieved. We know the car very well and we think we can control the wear of the new Dunlop tyres. Weather is the main concern at Spa-Francorchamps. Summer- like conditions is unlikely, which is a variable that can change the race, especially on such a long circuit. Whatever happens, we are determined to assume our status as contenders for the win! »