Gaydon, 1 June 2012 – A field of 30 Aston Martin competition cars will take to the Circuit de la Sarthe, France, to contest the inaugural Aston Martin Racing Festival of Le Mans on the morning of the legendary 24-hour race (16 June). Six types of Aston Martin GT racing car will participate in the event across five different classes, including the V12 Zagato that achieved a fine podium result at the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hours last month.
The Aston Martin Racing Festival of Le Mans is an exclusive 45-minute race on the famous 8.5-mile circuit, which will see Aston Martin customer teams from around the world race side-by-side in the largest display of the prestigious marque’s competition cars ever seen. The 30 entrants comprises three DBR9s in the GT1 class, three Vantage GT2s, two V12 Vantage GT3s and four DBRS9s in the GT3 category, 17 Vantage GT4s and the Nürburgring 24 Hour podium-finishing V12 Zagato.
The double Le Mans-winning Aston Martin DBR9 – which triumphed in the GT1 category in both 2007 and 2008 with the factory team – will return to the Circuit de la Sarthe in the hands of three customer outfits. The V12-powered racer, which is based on Aston Martin’s now iconic DB9 road car, will be campaigned by Young Driver AMR, Gulf Racing and Deboeuf Racing.
On the back of its success at the Nürburgring the V12 Vantage GT3 – which took its maiden race victory in the second round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at the German circuit – will be represented by Craft Eurasia Racing and Beechdean Motorsport. The latter car will be run in partnership with Aston Martin Racing as Beechdean team owner Andrew Howard – who co-drove the V12 Vantage GT3 to victory last month – forms a driving partnership with Aston Martin Racing team principal John Gaw.
An experienced racer in his own right, Gaw said: “This will truly be a celebration of Aston Martin motorsport. There will be a real mix of cars and drivers and all will be there to have fun and enjoy driving an Aston Martin on the iconic Le Mans track.
“I was delighted when Andrew invited me to join him in the latest specification GT3 car, which has just achieved its first victory. Andrew has probably the most experience of anyone in the new V12 Vantage GT3 and I am sure he will be as competitive as ever on the track and great fun off the track. The whole event should be a terrific experience for everyone involved and a real spectacle of exciting cars, colour and noise for the race fans.”
The V12 Zagato will participate in the Festival as an official Aston Martin invitational entry and will once again be piloted by the company’s CEO Dr Ulrich Bez and Chief Engineer Chris Porritt, fresh from their success at the Nürburgring. Having tamed the fearsome Nordschleife the V12 Zagato will now compete on the world’s most famous endurance racing circuit confident of a competitive showing.
No fewer than 17 Vantage GT4s will compete in the event, which also comprises two pre-race practice sessions. Many of these entrants are Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Great Britain regulars, including reigning champions Pierre Mantello and Olivier Bouche. Aston Martin Chairman David Richards will also compete in a Vantage GT4.
David King, Head of Motorsport at Aston Martin, said: “I think every race fan will be thrilled at the entry list for this exciting and unique new event.
“The concept of a multi-class race creates such a depth of interest. We will witness not only the evocative sight and sound of the DBR9 GT1 cars returning to the place of their greatest triumphs but also the DBRS9, and its successor the V12 Vantage GT3, adding their twelve cylinder howl to the atmosphere.
“An exceptional field will also include closely matched Vantage GT4 racers, and a trio of rumbling Vantage GT2s. As if that were not enough we will also see, fresh from its success at the recent Nürburgring 24-hour race, the unique V12 Zagato make its only race appearance outside Germany.”
The first hour-long practice session is scheduled for Wednesday 13 June. A one-hour qualifying session will follow the next day, with the 45-minute race set for the morning of Saturday 16 June. The Aston Martin Racing Festival of Le Mans will run in support of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which the marque will contest with a pair of V8-powered Vantage GTEs.
King went on to say: “I’m convinced that the inaugural Aston Martin Festival of Le Mans will generate real excitement among the tens of thousands of devoted motorsport fans who make the annual pilgrimage to this amazing endurance event. I’m confident it will be a great celebration of the Aston Martin brand, and a fitting curtain-raiser for the iconic 24-hour race.”