Another title for the Vantage GTE, as AMR ends the season in winning style
WORLD CHAMPIONS. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Even better when the title has just been won by Aston Martin Racing and its crack GTE Am crew of gentleman racer Paul Dalla Lana and pros Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda in their #98 Vantage GTE.
Ordinarily we would now give you a race-by-race breakdown of how they secured that world title but, thanks to the vagaries of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) calendar and the limitations of a quarterly magazine schedule, our previous update only got us halfway through the WEC season.
Since then, WEC has taken the world’s best endurance racing teams on a whistlestop tour of the globe, with races in Mexico, Texas, Japan, China and Bahrain. That’s the entire second half of the season completed in a little under three months.
Suffice to say that Dalla Lana & Co drove a storming second half of the season to build a ten-point lead over their nearest GTE Am rivals going into the season finale in Bahrain. And rather than adopt a conservative strategy for the crucial final race, the #98 crew attacked for the whole weekend, securing pole position then driving a flawless race to take victory, and with it bagging both GTE Am teams’ and drivers’ titles.
For Dalla Lana, the first Canadian to win an FIA WEC title, this championship victory represented the culmination of four years of hard grind. ‘To describe the feeling of winning this championship in one word… finally! I’ve seen Nicki and Marco enjoy this moment last year and Darren, Jonny and Daniel at Le Mans this year, so I can appreciate what they went through because this really is complete and total satisfaction. It’s so hard to get here, you need hundreds of people behind you but to have finally made it feels great. It’s going to have to sink in over some time, but for now I just want to really enjoy this moment. Thank you so much to the team for making this championship victory a reality.’
The end of the 2017 season also saw the venerable V8 Vantage GTE retire from the GTE Pro category after six seasons of unprecedented success. It will continue for one more season in GTE Am, while its successor – the all-new Vantage GTE, featured on page 42 – will take over frontline duties in the Pro category.
For Darren Turner, who raced the outgoing Vantage in each of its six seasons, and took victory at Le Mans earlier this year, it’s a time to reflect and look forward: ‘We’ve had the highest highs and we’ve had a few lows as well. The evolution of the car from one season to the next is testament to the hard work by everybody back at Aston Martin Racing. It was sad to race it for the last time in the Pro category, but everyone should be very proud of what has been achieved with the V8 Vantage GTE.’ The new car has a very tough act to follow.
WEC 2018/2019 CALENDAR
May 5 Six Hours of Spa-francorchamps June 16-17 24 Hours of Le Mans Aug 19 Six Hours of Silverstone Oct 21 Six Hours of Fuji Nov 18 Six Hours of Shanghai March 16 2019 1500 Miles of Sebring May 4 2019 Six Hours of Spa-francorchamps June 15-16 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans