At 16:00 hours this Saturday (19th May), the most arduous endurance race of all will make its 40th start, and for seventh successive year Aston Martin will join the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hours grid with no less than four factory and four customer team cars.
Having focused its efforts on near production-specification cars since its 2006 Nürburgring24 Hour debut, Aston Martin will, for the first time, be represented in the senior SP9 category for FIA-homologated GT3 cars. A pair of V12 Vantage GT3s will be run in association with long-standing official partner team, Young Driver AMR.
Aston Martin Chief Executive Dr Ulrich Bez always likes to play a wild card, and this year sees the return of the spectacular V12 Zagato concept car which contested the race in 2011. Dr Bez, who competes in the race himself, will be joined by Chief Engineer Chris Porritt, Aston Martin Nürburgring Test Centre Director Wolfgang Schuhbauer and motoring journalist Richard Meaden.
The lead Vantage GT3, carrying the iconic #007 designation, will be driven by Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck – sons of triple Nürburgring 24 Hour winner Hans-Joachim Stuck – alongside Dennis Rostek and Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner. Turner’s regular works team-mate, Stefan Mücke, will drive the #006 car with Tomas Enge, Fredy Barth and Oliver Mathai.
The fourth official entry will be a V8-powered Vantage run by Aston Martin’s Nürburgring Test Centre team and driven by Jurgen Stumpf, Australians Mal Rose and Rob Thomson, plus Peter Cate. Aston Martin will be represented by four further customer outfits, including Team Mathol Racing, winners of the SP10 class for GT4 cars in 2010.
Ahead of the race, Dr Bez said: “Our 100 per cent finishing record in thirteen starts in one of the world’s toughest endurance races is remarkable; truly a testament to the reliability of our cars and the efforts of our people.
“In the past six years we have deliberately focused on racing close-to-production cars, achieving seven class podiums and three class wins. For 2012, I am delighted to be returning again to drive our V12 Zagato with my engineering team, but also to have such an exciting step up with the V12 Vantage GT3s.”
The race starts at 16:00 (CET) on Saturday May 19th and you will be able to watch it via the live streaming service on www.audi.tv and on the German TV channel Sport1, which will provide more than 23 hours of on-air coverage throughout the event from May 17th to 20th.
Audio coverage will be broadcast live for the duration of the 24 hours via Radio Le Mans at www.radiolemans.com.
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In Focus: Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
The V12 Vantage GT3 was developed to replicate and indeed surpass the superb track record of its predecessor, the DBRS9. During its six-year lifespan Aston Martin sold 24 DBRS9s, with customer teams clocking up numerous race podiums and victories across the world.
Testing of the new V12 Vantage GT3 commenced in October 2011, completing a rigorous 10,000km sign-off durability test programme.
The Vantage GT3 features a modified version of Aston Martin’s production 6.0-litre V12 engine found in many of its road cars. The dry-sumped engine produces around 600bhp with 700 Nm of torque, whilst its front mid-engined position has been optimised to improve the race car’s weight balance.
A carbon fibre propshaft mates the engine to an Xtrac six-speed sequential transmission with a semi-automatic paddle shift gear change.
Aston Martin’s VH architecture philosophy underpins the Vantage GT3, while the modular chassis uses aerospace bonding techniques to create a light and immensely stiff aluminium and composite structure.
The most noticeable (and dramatic) change over the road car, are the new aerodynamics, which contribute to a muscular and purposeful stance while maintaining the overall form and beauty of the V12 Vantage.
The shorter wheelbase and lower engine position over its predecessor contribute to enhanced handling and performance, while driveability is enhanced with the latest race-developed ABS and Traction Control systems.
Besides this weekend’s Nürburgring 24 Hours, you can also catch up with the V12 Vantage GT3’s racing exploits in the FIA GT3 Championship, ADAC Masters, Nürburgring VLN, Blancpain Endurance Series, British GT, Belcar and Open GT.
|V12 Vantage GT3.|
|Max. output:||600 bhp|
|Max. torque:||700 Nm|
|Tank capacity:||110 litres|
|Price:||304,500 euros (plus VAT)|