Aston Martin Racing delivered its most competitive showing of the season with the new Vantage GTE by qualifying an impressive second and third fastest in the GTE Pro class for the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
Following an intensive test and development programme between the Total 24 Hours of Le Mans in June and this weekend’s third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Great Britain, the new car was able to demonstrate more of its front-running potential.
Having been encouraged by their free practice pace, Alex Lynn (GB) and Maxime Martin (BEL) delivered a blistering combined average lap time of 1m55.805s in the 20-minute qualifying session, good enough for second and less than a tenth away from snatching pole position.
“This demonstrates how much work the team has put in back at the workshop,” said Lynn. “There has been so much groundwork covered from where we finished at Le Mans so it is fantastic to reward the team with a great performance by both cars.”
This performance was then backed up by the #95 ‘DaneTrain’ that qualified third in the hands of Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim.
Aston Martin Racing Team Principal Paul Howarth said: “This was a highly encouraging qualifying session for us. Remember it is only the third qualification for the new Vantage GTE. We’re in the mix with the leading manufacturers, which is where we feel the car should be and this performance is a testament to the engineers who have worked tirelessly since Le Mans. What we have delivered as a team today is a result of the attention to detail back at the factory. It’s a highly positive step towards being competitive in the FIA WEC with the new Vantage GTE.”
The #98 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE Am entry driven by reigning champions Paul Dalla Lana (CDN), Mathias Lauda (A) and Pedro Lamy (POR) showed the pace to fight for pole position having ended free practice fastest of all in the category. But Dalla Lana found his best attempts at a flying lap were compromised by traffic and they had to settle for fourth behind the TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE of Salih Yoluc (TUR), factory driver Jonny Adam (GB) and Charlie Eastwood (IRL).
“It’s frustrating when you come against traffic and you know you have the pace,” said Dalla Lana. “But that’s all part of the sport, and to be honest, what is more encouraging is that we have shown good pace through the weekend and we have a great set-up for the race.”
Alex Lynn (GB), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: “This demonstrates how much work the team has put in back at the workshop. There has been so much ground covered from where we finished at Le Mans and it is fantastic to reward the team with a great performance by both cars. We’re looking strong for the race. We start in front of our main competitors and our aim is to finish as high up as possible and hopefully when the flag drops tomorrow we will be on the podium”
Maxime Martin (BEL), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: “This is definitely a lot better for us. I don’t think we were really expecting to be so far up the grid but the car is definitely good over one lap. We were able to really improve the set-up for qualifying and we’ve made a big step compared to FP3. Starting at the front is always better than starting at the back. The race will be long still, and here especially is quite hard on the tyres, so we will have to see how that plays out in the race. But we can be confident.”
Nicki Thiim (DEN), #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: “I’m happy for the team on our home race. I’m delighted actually, because we came here expecting less. I am not so happy with my own performance because Marco did a stunning lap and then I took it a little too easy on my out lap and the tyres were not up to temperature so I made some mistakes. But still it shows the potential of the car that we are up there. I have to say the improvement is stunning in the car and it is such a pleasure to drive. I am excited for tomorrow.”
Marco Sørensen (DEN), #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE: “I’m happy to see that we are up there and fighting with the others now. It’s hard to say how this performance will translate to race pace because qualifying is one thing and race strategy is something else entirely. I think some cars can extract more qualifying pace than others, but what is going to be interesting to see is how the race plays out. Trying to get the tyres to last will be key. I am very happy that we are fighting for a podium at least.”
Aston Martin Racing, Managing Director John Gaw: “This is a step change in terms of performance from Spa and that’s what we were expecting to see, so that’s good. The most important thing this weekend is to look after the tyres. I think everybody is facing a challenge to manage the blistering on the tyres and we have to do that as well in the race.”
Source. Aston Martin