Aston Martin Racing made a great step forward for the 6 Hours of Silverstone, and it was really satisfying to finish fourth with Maxime Martin in the latest round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. This was only the third race for the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE, and overall, in every department, I think the whole car has taken a massive step forward. And as a team we loved the whole weekend, being at home, and being at the sharp end of the field in the GTE Pro class.
We’d had a very encouraging test at Silverstone in the period since the Le Mans 24 Hours, and we were optimistic going into the race weekend. I had seen first-hand the effort the team had put in at the workshop. We knew the direction we needed to go in with the new car after Le Mans, and I hope the huge leaps forward we made continue, especially as Silverstone is a good benchmark for how we thought the car should be. Also, we made a big step forward with our understanding of the Michelin tyres and getting them to work on the Vantage.
There were three free practice sessions, and Maxime drove in the first, I got in for the second, and we shared the car in the third. We had good preparation coming into the weekend, and we ran through our programme in free practice. There were quite a lot of red flags, which made things a bit tricky, but we tested what we wanted to and knew the direction we should take.
That led into qualifying, which for us was the standout session of the weekend. Maxime and I qualified second for GTE Pro, and I suppose that was a little bit bitter-sweet. We never expected to get pole position, but we ended up missing out by a minute amount. And if you’d said before the weekend that we would start on the front row I’d have bitten your hand off! Myself, Maxime and Marco Sorensen in the other Aston all did a lap within a tenth of each other. When I came across the line I certainly didn’t expect to see the lap time I had on the dash…
We knew that we would be fast in the race and I thought we’d be in the mix. With the Vantage GTE being so new, we split the set-up slightly between the two cars, with the #95 of Marco and Nicki Thiim going one way, and Maxime and I in the #97 the other. I took the start and it was a difficult first stint – I spent a lot of time defending and dropped down the order. When I came into the pits to hand over to Maxime we made a change and, later in the race when I jumped back in the car, I could feel it was much better. In my second stint, I was able to take a lot of lap time off my stint average, and as the race wore on we got more and more competitive.
In the end we finished fifth on the road, before the second-placed Porsche got disqualified, so that promoted us to fourth. I was very happy with that result. I think if we’d had an absolutely perfect race we could have been fourth on the road, and that would have been a podium with the Porsche’s exclusion – that would have been an incredible effort. That’s really pleasing, because going forward we know we can make more steps with the car’s performance.
It’s a long time since the next WEC race, which takes place in the middle of October at Fuji in Japan, but in the meantime we’ll be testing with the Vantage GTE. But for now I’ve got a wedding to go to. Straight after Silverstone I flew to Italy to watch my Formula E team-mate Sam Bird get hitched. He didn’t have a good Silverstone, because he finished three places behind us in his Ferrari after a lot of delays, but I think he’s going to be pretty happy now. That’s my cue to sign off now – I’ve got to put my suit on!
Source. Alex Lynn/Photo. John Patterson