MO­TOR­SPORT

World Endurance Cham­pi­onship news, and a round-up of clas­sic ac­tion, too

VANTAGE - - Contents - WORDS RICHARD MEADEN

AF­TER THE EUPHO­RIA AND de­layed fa­tigue of Le Mans (see page 32), As­ton Martin Rac­ing had a scant few weeks to re­group at its Ban­bury HQ be­fore load­ing the trucks and head­ing to Ger­many for the Six Hours of Nür­bur­gring.

Tra­di­tion­ally the last of the World Endurance Cham­pi­onship’s Euro­pean rounds, Nür­bur­gring brings the first half of a long sea­son to a close. It’s also the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to en­ter the cham­pi­onship’s sum­mer break with a pos­i­tive re­sult and mo­men­tum to carry into the gru­elling suc­ces­sion of ‘fly­away’ races that start with the Six Hours of Mex­ico in the mid­dle of Septem­ber.

Hav­ing taken a dra­matic win in the GTE Pro cat­e­gory at Le Mans, Dar­ren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra must have been hop­ing they could steer their #97 Van­tage to a sim­i­larly strong per­for­mance in Ger­many. Sadly they had to make do with a lowly 7th in class – a fin­ish­ing po­si­tion that matched their qual­i­fy­ing per­for­mance.

AMR’S other GTE Pro crew – reign­ing WEC GTE Pro cham­pi­ons Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen – faired rather bet­ter, nailing a strong 2nd place qual­i­fy­ing slot. Frus­trat­ingly, this promis­ing pace didn’t trans­late to a podium fin­ish, though 4th place sal­vaged some use­ful points for the Dan­ish duo.

Things were more pos­i­tive in the GTE Am class, with the #98 Van­tage of Pe­dro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda tak­ing an em­phatic pole po­si­tion in qual­i­fy­ing. Things were look­ing good for the trio to con­vert this show of speed into a class win, but events in the sec­ond half of the race con­spired to cost them two po­si­tions. Still, this 3rd place fin­ish keeps them very much in the GTE Am ti­tle chase.

Look­ing back to last sea­son, the Dun­lop-shod AMR Van­tages tended to shine more brightly in the hot­ter con­di­tions of the fly­away races. AMR is ex­pect­ing the Van­tage – now in its fi­nal sea­son of front­line rac­ing – to once again do well in the higher am­bi­ent tem­per­a­tures, but Miche­lin put in a lot of de­vel­op­ment work over the win­ter, and this has helped AMR’S ri­vals to close the per­for­mance gap.

The sec­ond half of the WEC sea­son gets un­der­way with the Six Hours of Mex­ico on Septem­ber 3, fol­lowed by the Six Hours of the Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, on Septem­ber 16. Then it’s off to Ja­pan for the no­to­ri­ously rainy Six Hours of Fuji on Oc­to­ber 15, fol­lowed by the Six Hours of Shang­hai on Novem­ber 5.

That leaves the tra­di­tional sea­son fi­nale at the Six Hours of Bahrain on Novem­ber 18. A race where we will bid farewell to the ven­er­a­ble nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V8 Van­tage GTE and, just maybe, cel­e­brate an­other WEC ti­tle for AMR.

PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DREW GIB­SON

Above and top right #97 crew couldn’t re­peat their Le Mans tri­umph at the Nür­bur­gring, but As­ton hon­our was up­held by the GTE Am Van­tage, which took an em­phatic pole and was on course for a class win be­fore fi­nally hav­ing to set­tle for 3rd place

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