The new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 exceeded expectations and achieved its first podium finish at the Gulf 12 Hours endurance race at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on 15th December, with the second Vantage GT3 finishing the race in the top ten. The new Vantage GT4 run by the works team managed to qualify in pole position on its debut in the GT4 class.
Aston Martin partner team Beechdean AMR finished third in the GT3 Pro Am class and seventh overall with its four-man line-up of team owner Andrew Howard from Great Britain, Aston Martin Racing reserve driver Ross Gunn also from Great Britain, Chris Dyson from the US and Hamaid al Masaood from the UAE.
“This is absolutely brilliant,” says team owner Andrew Howard. “To be able to record the first podium for the new Aston Martin Vantage is amazing. The car is just fantastic, and especially in these conditions to drive a brand-new car for 12 hours and finish on the podium against well-developed opposition is a great testament to it. Ergonomically, the cabin and the driving position is much better than the previous car. It is a pleasure to drive and when you are doing an endurance racing that’s what you want.”
“To get the first podium is great way for me to end the season. Now we need to keep working on it over the winter because 2019 can be a big year for the Vantage GT3.”
Oman Racing by TF Sport just missed out on third place overall, having to settle for fourth. The car, driven by three-time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner Darren Turner and reigning British GT champion Jonny Adam and Ahmad al Harthy, unfortunately suffered a delay due a small issue in its first pitstop causing it to lose a lap. However, the three drivers fought back valiantly to finish less than half a minute away from that podium finish.
Turner said: “We fought our way back up to fourth and we were closing in on third, but we simply ran out of time. I think if we had had another stint, we would have caught them. Without that issue at the first stop I’m sure we would have been on the podium. A great deal of information has been learned about the new GT3 in hot conditions which was one of the main reasons for racing here.”
The third Vantage GT3 run by Blancpain Endurance Series race-winners R-Motorsport experienced the same issue which unfortunately put the car out of contention despite the best efforts from drivers Jake Dennis, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Ricky Collard.
The works team Vantage GT4 driven by a British quartet of Mark Farmer, Tom Canning, Ollie Wilkinson and Adrian Willmott were thwarted by a rival on the first lap, who hit them, which meant a lengthy stop in the pits for repairs. But the car ran faultlessly for the remainder of the race to finish fourth, which is a real testament to the car and team.
David King, President of Aston Martin Racing said: “We are delighted that the Vantage GT3 continues to make strides forward in competitiveness and driveability. For a partner team to deliver a podium on its first race with the car is very satisfying and there is evidence to suggest that only bad luck stopped us achieving more. The GT4 ran trouble-free from a reliability point of view for the whole weekend and we’re very happy with the pace. It performed better than we’d even anticipated and with that driver line-up it was a potential victory contender. But from a testing point of view it couldn’t have been better, and that fundamentally is why we came here.”
For more information on the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 please visit www.astonmartin.com
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel and Editor-in-Chief of Our Man On The Ground Travel and Lifestyle Magazine.
Photographs courtesy of Aston Martin Racing