Aston Martin will return to GT Racing this year including an entry for the Le Mans 24-hour race. The V8 Vantage GTE is entered in the GTE Pro category of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Still carrying the famous Gulf racing colours the Vantage GTE is a development of the GT2 car. Every aspect of the racer is said to be improved, including engine, drivetrain and suspension. The driver line-up for the season is Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Adrian Fernandez.
The team's first race will be the 12 Hours of Sebring, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, on 17th March. For extra competition experience with the updated Vantage before Le Mans Aston Martin will also compete in two rounds of the American Le Mans Series. Those races take place at Long Beach on April 14th and Laguna Seca on May 12th.
Although based on the V8 Vantage the racing car doesn't share many components with the road-going model. Under the bonnet the engine has racing cylinder heads, connecting rods and exhaust system. The bodywork, except for the roof, is carbon fibre, with extensive aerodynamic modifications.
For the 2012 season all of Aston Martin's racing cars are based on the Vantage - a decision intended to reflect the model's status as the sportiest car in the range according to the firm.
The drivers have expressed their excitement at competing in the new car over the coming season. Aston Martin Lagonda Chairman David Richards commented: "It's great to be returning to our core motorsport activity; production-based GT racing.
"The GT category is also now the most competitive class in world sports car racing and with the new FIA World Endurance Championship the GTE class will, I believe, offer the closest fought and most exciting spectacle. We will see many premium sports car brands competing with great sounding racing cars based on their production models, which all the fans can relate to."
John Lambert - 28 Feb 2012