MO­TOR­SPORT

An­other ti­tle for the Van­tage GTE, as AMR ends the sea­son in win­ning style

VANTAGE - - Contents - WORDS RICHARD MEADEN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DREW GIB­SON / NICK DUNGAN

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

Above Sheer joy on the face of Paul Dalla Lana as he and team-mates Pe­dro Lamy and Mathias Lauda clinch both the teams’ and driv­ers’ ti­tles in the GTE Am di­vi­sion of the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship with the #98 V8 Van­tage GTE

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