A new race car, new driv­ers and a new chal­lenge for As­ton Martin Racing

it’s all change for this year’s World en­durance cham­pi­onship. the most sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence is the adop­tion of a rad­i­cal new cal­en­dar that has the le Mans 24 hours as its sea­son fi­nale.

the mid-june date of the iconic en­durance clas­sic hasn’t changed, but ev­ery­thing else has been re-shuf­fled. the re­sult is a one-off, tran­si­tional ‘su­per sea­son’, com­menc­ing with the six hours of spa-fran­cor­champs in May 2018 and fin­ish­ing in June 2019 at le Mans.

the ob­ser­vant among you will no­tice that this means two vis­its to both spa and le Mans in one sea­son. Wec’s or­gan­is­ers have also added se­bring to the cal­en­dar for the first time since 2012, and shifted sil­ver­stone’s tra­di­tional sea­son-open­ing slot in april to au­gust – the new firstround slot once the 2018/19 su­per sea­son has been com­pleted.

there’s an­other piece of mo­men­tous non-as­ton Martin-re­lated news re­gard­ing Wec, and that’s the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Fer­nando alonso in toy­ota’s lmp1 team. hav­ing a cur­rent F1 driver, dou­ble F1 World cham­pion and one of the great­est driv­ers of his (or any other) gen­er­a­tion is a huge coup for the Wec, even if a cal­en­dar clash with the austin grand prix meant Wec took the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion to shift the date of the six hours of Fuji so that alonso didn’t have to miss a race.

Big­ger news for as­ton Martin fans is the com­pe­ti­tion de­but of the all-new Van­tage gte. Based on as­ton’s pugilis­tic new road car, the long-awaited re­place­ment for amr’s old war-horse fea­tures a Mercedesamg-de­rived twin-turbo V8, dra­matic aero­dy­nam­ics and a sul­phurous new colour scheme. early in­di­ca­tions from amr’s driver line-up (reg­u­lars turner, adam, thiim and sørensen joined by new­com­ers alex lynn and Maxime Martin) sug­gest it will more than take the fight to the gte class op­po­si­tion, which has been bol­stered by the ar­rival of a fac­tory BMW en­try. With for­mi­da­ble en­tries also from chevro­let, Ford and porsche, the bat­tle for gte hon­ours looks mouth­wa­ter­ing.

IF YOU FOL­LOW as­ton’s ex­ploits in the Bri­tish gt cham­pi­onship, then you’ll be thrilled to learn that amr is mount­ing a con­certed ef­fort to win the ti­tle by plac­ing both Dar­ren turner and Jonny adam with amr cus­tomer teams.

Dt will be part­ner­ing an­drew howard – owner of the Beechdean amr team and Bgt cham­pion in 2013 and 2015 – with whom he made his only pre­vi­ous Bgt ap­pear­ance, shar­ing a Dbrs9 in 2010. adam – the only driver to suc­cess­fully de­fend a Bri­tish gt3 ti­tle and win back-to­back cham­pi­onships with dif­fer­ent teams – will be join­ing op­ti­mum Mo­tor­sport, part­ner­ing Flick haigh. Both Beechdean and op­ti­mum will be run­ning the ven­er­a­ble V12 Van­tage gt3 in what is likely to be its last front­line sea­son be­fore be­ing re­placed by a gt3 de­riv­a­tive of this year’s new Van­tage gte in 2019.

Can the new V8 Van­tage gte win in its de­but sea­son? Will the old V12 Van­tage gt3 go out in the best pos­si­ble style? We very much look for­ward to find­ing out.

2018/19 WEC ‘Su­per Sea­son’ Round 1: May 5, 2018 (six hours of spa-fran­cor­champs) Round 2: June 16-17 (24 hours of le Mans) Round 3: Aug 19 (six hours of sil­ver­stone) Round 4: Oct 21 (six hours of Fuji) Round 5: Nov 18 (six hours of shang­hai) Round 6: March 16-17, 2019 (1500 Miles of se­bring) Round 7: May 4, 2019 (six hours of spa-fran­cor­champs) Round 8: June 15-16, 2019 (24 hours of le Mans)

2018 Bri­tish GT Cham­pi­onship Round 1: Mar 31-Apr 2 (oul­ton park) Round 2: Apr 28-29 (rock­ing­ham) Round 3: May 26-27 (snet­ter­ton) Round 4: June 9-10 (sil­ver­stone) Round 5: July 21-22 (spa-fran­cor­champs) Round 6: Aug 4-5 (Brands hatch) Round 7: Sept 22-23 (Don­ing­ton park)

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