As­ton’s new track weapon

Stun­ning NEW V8 Van­tage gte shapes up to take ON FER­RARI, PORSCHE and FORD in the 2016 WORLD en­durance Cham­pi­onship

VANTAGE - - Bulletin News, Analysis And Events - Words RICHARD Meaden im­ages AMR/DREW Gib­son

We might be a little bi­ased, but in our humble opin­ion the V8 Van­tage has long been the most hand­some car in the World en­durance Cham­pi­onship’s gte cat­e­gory. One of the quick­est, too, with class podi­ums at le mans since the gte class was in­tro­duced in 2012.

how­ever, the front-en­gined Van­tage found it­self in­creas­ingly un­der pres­sure from the mid- and rear-en­gined Fer­rari 458s and Porsche 911s last sea­son. For 2016, that bat­tle is set to in­ten­sify with the ar­rival of the spec­tac­u­lar Ford gt. an­other mid-en­gined ma­chine, it is the most ex­treme in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the pro­duc­tion-based gte regs yet, and – in­ter­est­ingly – the work of a team headed by for­mer Pro­drive and as­ton martin Rac­ing man ge­orge howard-chap­pell.

thanks to a se­ries of changes in the reg­u­la­tions for 2016, gte is to be fur­ther dis­tanced from the lesser gt3 cat­e­gory, and, in an bid to equalise the dif­fer­ences

be­tween front-, mid- and rear-en­gined GTE cars, AMR has im­ple­mented a com­pre­hen­sive re­work­ing of the V8 Van­tage GTE’S aero­dy­nam­ics to achieve an in­crease in down­force and a re­duc­tion in drag – the racer’s holy grail.

Pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of GTE car had to re­tain much of the road car’s body panel sur­faces, which dic­tated the ex­tent to which teams could de­velop the al­limpor­tant front and rear ends. The 2016 regs al­low more de­sign free­dom around crit­i­cal ar­eas such as the front split­ter and rear wing/dif­fuser, though teams have to con­tain those aero­dy­namic de­vices within pre­scribed vol­umes.

The result is a more ex­treme-look­ing Van­tage with an all-new front end fea­tur­ing a more ag­gres­sive split­ter, more mod­est air in­takes and more smoothly con­toured front whee­larches to re­duce drag. The side-exit ex­hausts have been moved rear­wards to im­prove air­flow

around the rear whee­larch. The new regs mean the size of the rear wing has reduced, but this is com­pen­sated for by a much larger rear dif­fuser pro­trud­ing from be­neath the re­pro­filed bumper. It’s still very recog­nis­ably a Van­tage, but with a beefed-up look that’s en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate for a GT car that shares track-space with pure pro­to­types in LMP2 and LMP1.

In the past, AMR has re­lied on ex­ter­nal com­pa­nies to do much of its aero­dy­namic work but, for the 2016 Van­tage GTE, it has done the bulk of the work in-house us­ing Com­pu­ta­tional Fluid Dy­nam­ics (CFD) soft­ware, which sim­u­lates air­flow and spares the team ex­pen­sive and time­con­sum­ing ses­sions in a wind tun­nel. Though un­doubt­edly a huge chal­lenge for the team to un­der­take, the lessons learned in the process of de­vel­op­ing this 2016 aero pack­age will stand AMR in ex­cel­lent stead when the time comes to turn the all-new Van­tage re­place­ment road car into a race car fit for the WEC.

Though the skin of the V8 GTE is very dif­fer­ent, the me­chan­i­cal com­po­nents are largely un­changed. The 4.5-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V8 ben­e­fits from larger air­restric­tors, though, as all GTE cars start the sea­son with larger re­stric­tors, it’s hard to say what ef­fect this will have once the FIA im­poses in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance bal­anc­ing. With Fer­rari and Ford both run­ning tur­bocharged en­gines, this job will be harder than last sea­son, when all GTE cars were non-turbo. Hope­fully the FIA will keep the play­ing field as level as pos­si­ble, but you don’t have to be an en­gi­neer to un­der­stand how dif­fi­cult it will be to en­sure the teams run­ning turbo en­gines don’t find ways to mit­i­gate the stran­gling ef­fects of the air re­stric­tors. In this re­spect AMR must be look­ing for­ward to an all-new tur­bocharged car for the 2018 sea­son, when the new Amg-pow­ered Van­tage re­place­ment is due to ap­pear.

Apart from a new Xtrac lim­ited-slip diff that re­places the less so­phis­ti­cated ramp-plate diff, other changes to the V8 GTE are safety-re­lated. Re­mov­able door glazing, im­pact foam in the driver’s door, the new FIA 8862 seat and in­stal­la­tion of the manda­tory roof hatch to aid the ex­trac­tion of a driver in an emer­gency com­plete the suite of im­prove­ments. Vis­i­bil­ity has also been im­proved, with re-sit­ing of mir­rors from the door glass to the doors them­selves im­prov­ing the sight lines at the base of the A-pil­lars.

The result is a car that’s ev­ery bit as hand­some as its pre­de­ces­sor, and one blessed with even more for­mi­da­ble per­for­mance. Whether it’s enough to put AMR in con­tention for WEC hon­ours and a Le Mans class win re­mains to be seen, but, if there’s truth to the adage ‘Form is temporary, class is per­ma­nent’, AMR can look for­ward to eras­ing the frus­tra­tions of 2015 and en­joy­ing an epic four-way bat­tle for hon­ours through­out 2016.

‘A beefed-up look is en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate for a GT car that shares track-space with pure pro­to­types in LMP2 and LMP1’

AS­TON MARTIN RAC­ING’S twelfth sea­son of competition is shap­ing up to be its most ex­cit­ing yet. With a re­vised V8 Van­tage GTE sport­ing an all-new aero pack­age, an ex­clu­sive tyre part­ner­ship with Dun­lop, dy­namic new driver line-ups and a classy new colour scheme to suit a fresh group of ti­tle spon­sors, no-one could ac­cuse the crack Ban­bury-based squad of los­ing its hunger for suc­cess.

Which is just as well given the strength of the op­po­si­tion in GTE PRO, with the might of Fer­rari (with its new tur­bocharged 488) and Porsche be­ing joined by Ford and its in­cred­i­ble-look­ing Gt su­percar. In­deed it’s Ford’s ar­rival that has prompted at least part of AMR’S driver reshuf­fle, the de­fec­tion of Ste­fan Mücke bring­ing his long-term rac­ing part­ner­ship with Dar­ren turner to an end.

For 2016, turner teams-up with the Dan­ish duo of Nicki thiim and Marco Sørensen in the #95 V8 Van­tage, while the sec­ond GTE PRO en­try sees the Scot Jonny Adam pro­moted from his oc­ca­sional WEC out­ings in 2015 to a full-time drive along­side Kiwi Richie Stan­away and Brazil­ian Fer­nando Rees in the #97 car. AMR’S strong show­ings in the GTE AM cat­e­gory will be up­held by quick cana­dian gen­tle­man driver Paul Dalla Lana who is joined for a sec­ond sea­son by the su­per-ex­pe­ri­enced Por­tugese driver, Pe­dro Lamy, and the Aus­trian, Mathias Lauda, in the #98 Van­tage.

the WEC sea­son starts with the Six Hours of Sil­ver­stone on Sun­day April 17, fol­lowed by the Six Hours of Spa in May. this is the tra­di­tional warm-up for the Le Mans 24 Hours in mid June – the sin­gle most im­por­tant race for As­ton Martin Rac­ing and ev­ery other team in the WEC – but be­tween those WEC rounds AMR will also con­test the Nür­bur­gring ‘N24’ with a pair of V12 Van­tage Gt3s crewed by all but Paul Dalla Lana.

A brief hia­tus post-le Mans gives the teams time to re­group be­fore the WEC re-starts in ernest, with the Six Hours of Nür­bur­gring in late July fol­lowed by five fly-away races to Mex­ico, texas, Ja­pan, china and Brazil crammed into a re­lent­less ten-week pe­riod be­tween the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber and the mid­dle of Novem­ber.

the WEC may not start un­til April, but such is the global pop­u­lar­ity of en­durance rac­ing that there’s barely an off-sea­son; the first 24-hour races of 2016 sep­a­rated from the end of the 2015 sea­son by less than two months. Late Jan­uary and the Day­tona 24 Hours saw a works-sup­ported V12 Van­tage Gt3 com­pet­ing in the GTD class. Driven by AMR’S WEC reg­u­lars Paul Dalla Lana, Richie Stan­away, Mathias Lauda and Pe­dro Lamy, the #98 Van­tage started 7th in class but quickly climbed to 3rd be­fore dam­age in­curred as dark­ness fell forced an un­sched­uled pit-stop for re­pairs. Un­de­terred, the crew clawed their way back into con­tention for the class lead, only for a late fuel stop to drop them to 4th at the che­quered flag.

Af­ter the trou­bled 2015 sea­son in the WEC, AMR is hop­ing for a stronger, more con­sis­tent show­ing this year. We’re sure you’ll join us in wish­ing all at AMR a suc­cess­ful and safe 2016 sea­son.


April 17 WEC Six Hours of Sil­ver­stone May 7 WEC Six Hours of Spa-fran­cor­champs May 28/29 Nür­bur­gring 24 Hours June 18/19 24 Hours of Le Mans July 24 WEC Six Hours of Nür­bur­gring septem­ber 4 WEC Six Hours of Mex­ico city septem­ber 17 WEC Six Hours of cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas Oc­to­ber 16 WEC Six Hours of Fuji

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