All-New Aston Martin Prototype to Challenge for Victory at Le Mans 2011
This is a rendering of Aston Martin’s futuristic contender for overall honours at next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
The image of an open, petrol-powered (by a “new purpose-designed race engine”, according to the company) car was released during last weekend’s Silverstone 1000Km meeting.
The event was the swansong for the V12-powered Aston Martin DBR1-2 coupés. As expected, diesel-powered cars dominated a race which was won by Peugeot (a one-two, with Audi third). Two Gulf-liveried Astons were entered and, as has been the case for the last couple of years, they proved the fastest ‘petrol’ cars by some margin. ‘009’, driven by Sam Hancock and Stefan Mücke, finished a fine fourth, while the sister ‘007’ car (Adrian Fernandez, Harold Primat and Andy Meyrick) retired, having spun off into a gravel trap.
Aston Martin Racing’s official partner team Signature Racing in LMP1 ended in sixth place (Pierre Ragues, Franck Mailleux and Vanina Ickx), while a strong showing in qualifying by the JMW team Aston Martin Vantage in GT2 could well have ended with a class win had they not suffered a stop-and-go penalty. The small V8 (with Rob Bell and Darren Turner at the wheel) finished third – a terrific effort against the hordes of Ferrari 430 GT2s and Porsche GT3 RSRs.
Speaking of the all-new open car for next year, Aston Martin Chairman, David Richards, said: “Having won the GT category twice at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008 and the Le Mans Series outright in 2009, we still want to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the 24 Hour race overall to bring the title back to Britain.
“In recent years, it has been impossible for petrol cars to compete on equal terms with the diesels. However, we now have assurances from the ACO that, with the adoption of the 2011 regulations, they will properly balance the performance of these new cars. Under these circumstances we have been prepared to develop Aston Martin’s first purpose-built racing chassis and engine for more than 50 years.
“Even with this new car, it will still be a ‘David and Goliath’ fight against the massive resources of our competitors, but we have become accustomed to this and relish the challenge.”
The first of a limited number of six cars will run in early 2011, with work on the chassis and engine proceeding apace at Aston Martin Racing’s headquarters in Banbury.
Dr. Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin, commented: “Racing is a fundamental part of Aston Martin’s heritage and Le Mans is the race that every true sportscar-maker aspires to win. While every aspect of this new LMP1 car has been built purely for racing, we also remain committed to developing race-winning GT cars based on our road cars. We are the only manufacturer to offer a race car for every category from GT1 to GT4.”
Text - Steve Wakefield
Photos - Aston Martin
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