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