BEST QUALIFYING TO DATE FOR ASTON MARTIN AT NURBURGRING 24 HOURS
Nürburg, 18 May 2012 - Aston Martin's pair of V12 Vantage GT3s will line up alongside one another on the grid for tomorrow's ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hour race having qualified in 16th and 17th positions. Among a grid of close to 170 cars, Aston Martin drivers Johannes Stuck (A) and Tomas Enge (CZ) were able to secure the marque's strongest starting positions to date for the twice-around-the-clock endurance epic.
Following two preliminary qualifying sessions on Thursday evening and Friday morning, the 40 fastest cars entered into a two-lap pole position shootout, which was a new addition for 2012. Having randomly drawn their starting positions earlier in the day, Stuck began the session ninth on the road, with Enge in second.
Stuck set his quickest time on the second of his two flying laps, stopping the clock at 8m 23.816s in the #007 V12 Vantage GT3. Enge was able to pass the first-placed car on the long Döttinger Höhe straight soon before his first flying lap to ensure he had a clear circuit ahead of him. The Czech driver also set his fastest time on his second tour of the 25km circuit in the #006 car, recording a best of 8m 24.824s.
Stuck and team-mates Dennis Rostek (D), Ferdinand Stuck (A) and Darren Turner (GB), one of Aston Martin's factory drivers, will line up in 16th position. Enge and co-drivers Fredy Barth (CH), Oliver Mathai (D) and Stefan Mücke (D), also a factory driver, will start the 24-hour race from 17th on the grid.
Of his qualifying effort, Stuck said: "I'm very pleased with the time. I was a bit cautious for the first couple of kilometers of my warm-up lap, but I felt that the car was good so I was able to push hard. Maybe we could have been a couple of places higher, but this is a 24-hour race so qualifying is really just about prestige. Those were the first two laps I've ever had in a racing car on this track without seeing another car, which allowed me to focus on the lap. The car felt really good and it was a lot of fun to drive."
Enge added: "I'm happy with the starting position, but I think I could have gone even quicker. This is Aston Martin's first time out at this race with GT3 cars, so it's encouraging that we're quite quick already. It's also the first time that I've been able to push 100 per cent because there was no traffic and with two more laps I could have been faster. I'm very pleased with the Yokohama tyres and the performance of the car, but we know that this race can be unpredictable. The key will be staying out of trouble."
Alongside its two V12 Vantage GT3s, which are being run in conjunction with Aston Martin Racing and its long-standing partner team Young Driver AMR in the headlining SP9 category, Aston Martin is also fielding two official entries in the SP8 class. The V12 Zagato - which shares its sky blue and black livery with the V12 Vantage GT3s and is crewed by Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez (D), Chris Porritt (GB), Wolfgang Schuhbauer (D) and Richard Meaden (GB) - set a time of 9m 18.855s to line up third in class. The orange #85 V8-powered Vantage GT4 of Jürgen Stumpf (D), Robert Thomson (AUS), Mal Rose (AUS) and Peter Cate (GB) qualified a strong second in class with a time of 9m 17.674s.
Four further Aston Martin Vantage GT4s are contesting the Nürburgring 24 Hours in the hands of customer outfits in the SP10 category this weekend. Team Mathol Racing - champion and stalwart of the Nürburgring -based VLN series - qualified second in class, while HRT Performance's pair of GT4s will line up in eighth and ninth. AVIA Racing Team's sole GT4 will start the race from 13th.
David King, Head of Motorsport at Aston Martin, praised the team's efforts: "We're making our GT3 debut on the Nürburgring 24 Hours this weekend with our most ambitious campaign to date, so we can be very encouraged by our performance in qualifying. Starting from 16th and 17th puts us in contention for top-ten results, as long as we can stay out of trouble and perform consistently in the race. We have a small amount of time to make up on the very quickest cars here, but much of that will come as we learn more about the V12 Vantage GT3s and this very challenging circuit.
"Our ambitions of scoring a third SP8 class victory since our 2006 Nürburgring 24 Hour debut were boosted when the Vantage GT4 and the V12 Zagato qualified so well in their class. What's even more encouraging is that the drivers are all very pleased with the performance of their cars.
"My congratulations also go out to our customer teams for their qualifying results, and particularly to Beechdean Motorsport drivers Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam, who today recorded the V12 Vantage GT3's first race victory in the British GT Championship support race here at the Nürburgring."