Wednesday 15 November, Bahrain: British marque Aston Martin retires its most successful ever racing car, the V8 Vantage GTE, from GTE Pro duty after the final round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship in Bahrain. Meanwhile, the team’s GTE Am squad goes into the finale hunting championship glory.
V8 Vantage GTE: 2012-2017
After winning the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans in June in dramatic fashion, the #95 and #97 Aston Martin Racing entries will be looking to provide both cars with a suitable send-off this weekend in the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain, the final race at the venue which does not feature on next year’s calendar.
The #95 car will once again be driven by the 2016 GTE reigning Drivers’ champions Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim. The Danish duo wrapped up their title in Bahrain last year with victory, while Le Mans-winning drivers Darren Turner and Jonny Adam will occupy the driving seat of #97.
Having won 36 races, four championship titles and stolen the hearts of race fans worldwide between 2012 and 2017, the V8 Vantage GTE will look to add one final win to its tally in GTE Pro this weekend.
After racing the car in each of its campaigns and taking Le Mans victory in the car earlier this year, driver Darren Turner said: "For everyone at Aston Martin Racing, the actual journey with the race car has been truly a great experience. From the first year in 2012; where we didn’t get the car’s first win until the last race in Shanghai, to then watch it grow into one of the most successful cars in the championship both in Am and Pro. It has pretty much won at every venue throughout the championship and it's been amazing.
"We've had some hard battles with it, we've had the highest highs and we've had a few lows as well. The evolution of that car from one season to the next as we've strived to remain competitive with the technical package is testament to the hard work that has gone into it by everybody back at Aston Martin Racing and everyone at Aston Martin developing and designing such an amazing and special car. So it will be sad to race it for the last time in the Pro category on Saturday, but everyone can look back and have fond memories and be very proud of what has been achieved with the V8 Vantage GTE."
In celebration, all three V8 Vantage GTEs will sport a unique livery this weekend, with a montage of iconic podiums from the car’s WEC career from 2012-2017 adorning each roof and the iconic Vantage GTE nameplate will be proudly worn across each rear wing.
While the V8 Vantage GTE will live on in GTE Am, this weekend marks a significant point in Aston Martin Racing’s history.
GTE AM: The 2017 championship is in sight
In GTE Am, the #98 of Paul Dalla Lana (C), Pedro Lamy (P) and Mathias Lauda (A) are within touching distance of championship glory.
After taking pole position and victory in Shanghai, the trio remain ten-points clear from their nearest championship rivals. With the odds in their favour, they must now remain as focused as ever with the memories of the disappointment of 2016 Hours of Bahrain fresh in the mind.
Dalla Lana said: “While we only had a slim chance of taking the championship last year, the disappointment just made us even more determined to get in this position this season. This time last year, we were 25 points behind, this year we’re ten ahead. That’s testimony to the work the team have put in to make us an exceptionally reliable car all season and to the consistency and quality of the drives that Mat and Pedro have put in. I really hope we can reward the team with championship victory this week”.
On the eve of the season finale, Paul Howarth, Team Principal Aston Martin Racing said, “Ahead of the Bapco Six Hours of Bahrain, I want to say thank you to all of our partners who have helped us to create an exceptionally capable race car in the V8 Vantage GTE.
“Our relationship with Dunlop over the past two seasons has seen us claim some of our most important and memorable victories including the Drivers’ championship last year with Nicki (Thiim) and Marco (Sorensen) last year and our last-lap victory this year at Le Mans with Daniel Serra, Darren Turner and Jonny Adam will undoubtedly go down as one of the most famous GT race wins of all-time. I’d like to thank them for their exceptional work.
“In Total, we have taken our oil and lubricant knowledge to a level of expertise that we had not been close to prior to 2016. Again, I’d like to thank them for their exceptional work.
“Finally, this has been a tough season and the level of competition within the FIA World Endurance Championship continues to strengthen again and again. This will be the last race for our V8 Vantage GTE in the GTE Pro class and I for one will be sad once both cars cross that line”.
The Bapco Six Hours of Bahrain will begin at 16h00 local time on Saturday 18 November.