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
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.
AMR’S 2016 RACING CALENDAR
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