Aston Martin team R-Motorsport’s efforts in its Spa 24 Hours debut this weekend were rewarded with a record-breaking Qualifying performance and a top 10 finish, its #76 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3 of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Jake Dennis and Nicki Thiim crossing the line ninth.
This result in the race followed R-Motorsport becoming the first team in Blancpain GT Series history to score three consecutive Pole Positions, after its second Vantage (the #62 of Maxime Martin, Dominik Baumann and Marvin Kirchhofer) was promoted from second to the top slot on the grid on Saturday morning due to a penalty being handed to the original pole-sitter.
The early portion of the race showed huge promise for R-Motorsport, Martin in the #62 battling hard to keep the car in the lead through the opening hours, while the #76 – which started at the back of the grid – climbed the order. Nicki Thiim was masterful during the opening stint, rising from 62nd, to 20th before pitting for the first time.
That early performance from the Dane laid the foundation for the #76 to contend for the lead into the evening, and back up the #62 Aston Martin Vantage after the team lost over a minute due to a fuelling issue after three hours.
Unfortunately, bad luck continued to strike R-Motorsport following the #62 dropping down the order, both cars suffering issues which prevented them from contending for the win into the second half of the race.
The two Aston Martin Vantages suffered multiple punctures, completed unscheduled brake changes and in the case of the #62, lost further time over night and on Sunday afternoon due to contact with a slower car and later, a rear bumper change.
While the #62 ended up finishing 35th, the #76 continued to fight as the sun rose on Sunday morning. Thiim, Dennis and Vaxiviere all ran metonymically to ensure that R-Motorsport came away from its first 24-hour race in the Ardennes with a strong points-paying finish in ninth.
During the race, in which points were handed out after Hour 6, Hour 12 and the finish, the #76 Aston Martin Vantage scored three points (one for Pole) after a run that promised so much early on.
The final round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup is next on the schedule, the three-hour race set to take place on the 28-30 of September at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
Dr. Florian Kamelger, R-Motorsport Team Principal: “This was the first time with the team in Spa, it’s been a huge team effort getting both cars to the finish. It was an unbelievably hard race, but finishing P9 with a car that started last on the grid was unbelievable. We are happy to have done that and we are happy to have raced here. The ‘Old Girls’ still have life; they still have the pace and we proved that.
“I have to tip my hat to the team here they’ve been fabulous. Everyone has worked so hard, and everyone here, no matter what job they did, was so valuable to this effort. They will all return home proud.”
Maxime Martin, Driver #62 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3: “We had a good start with pole position, and a good start to the race too, but later we started to have brake issues and fuel issues that pushed us back from the lead to the back of the field. It wasn’t the race we wanted but we finished it, and now the only thing we can do is to look forward to the next races and come back stronger next year.”
Dominik Baumann, Driver #62 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3: “The start was promising, for the first three hours we were really very strong, but then it started to get more complicated. We had pit stop issues, and niggling car issues. We tried to keep up with the leaders, but after the delays we weren’t on the same page as them. Then we suffered contact with another car which cost us a lot of time overnight too. In the end, we just tried to finish the race. But, it was a great first experience with the team, I’m hope to work with them again.”
Marvin Kirchhofer, Driver #62 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3: “Obviously, this wasn’t the result we hoped for, especially as we started from pole. The whole team did a really incredible job, but we suffered bad luck. Everyone did their best though, and we should feel proud to get both cars to the finish. We would have loved to have both cars closer to the front, but that’s racing.”
Matthieu Vaxiviere, Driver #76 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3: “The performance of the team was great throughout the race, it’s been a really impressive run for the Aston Martin Vantage. It worked perfectly, we had no major issues, just got unlucky with full-course yellows and punctures.”
Jake Dennis, Driver #76 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3: “This was my first 24-hour race with the team. Starting from the back was far from ideal, but to come away with points on the board was a great achievement for the team’s first effort. I’m extremely thankful, extremely tired and now I’m looking forward to some rest. I’m very happy with this performance.”
Nicki Thiim, Driver #76 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3: “It was another great experience for me with R-Motorsport. We started last, so to finish so high up is a great achievement when you think of how many Pro cars were in the race. The team did a great job, we just got unlucky. We got the maximum out of this.”
Source. Aston Martin/Photo. Nick Dungan / Drew Gibson Photography