The new Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE took another important step towards victory in the FIA World Endurance Championship in Japan. While still only four races old, the new Aston Martin comfortably led the early stages of the 6 Hours of Fuji and went on to secure another double-points finish.
Having registered its first pole position for the GTE Pro class, Nicki Thiim (DEN) dominated the start of the race in wet conditions driving the #95 ‘DaneTrain’ he shares with Marco Sørensen (DEN). Not only was Thiim the fastest in the rain, his team-mate Maxime Martin (BEL) – making his Fuji Speedway debut – quickly moved to second in the #97 co-driven by Alex Lynn (GB).
Then following a lengthy safety car period, the team made an aggressive strategy call to remain on wet tyres. However a combination of bad fortune as the track dried out and another incident that extended the FCY meant that when the cars switched to dry weather tyres, they were unable to maintain that class-leading pace and eventually finished the race sixth (#95) and ninth (#97).
Nicki Thiim said afterwards: “The whole weekend has actually been positive, and to get pole was fantastic. Coming in to the race we knew it was going to be tricky with the weather conditions, but we had awesome pace in the wet and we had by far the fastest car out there. The long safety car period cost us the time we lost was just impossible to recover given the high class level of manufacturers here.”
Marco Sørensen added: “It was nice to see the Aston Martin Vantage GTE up at the top of the scoreboard. We had great wet weather pace and if the rain had continued all the way through it could have worked in our favour. In the dry we still have some work to do regarding set-up and tyre management. But it’s early in the car’s life and we’ve shown now that we will get there.”
Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw said: “This weekend in Japan we’ve demonstrated that we can we mix it with the best of the manufacturers in qualifying and to see the car on pole position was encouraging. We have also seen that the car has class-leading pace across a stint in wet and intermediate conditions. We still have work to do in dry conditions across a full stint. We have taken more data from this weekend to go back and analyse fully to find out how we close the gap in these conditions.”
The GTE Am class once again saw the evergreen Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE show its class, as partner team TF Sport took its second podium in as many races with works driver Jonny Adam (GB), Salih Yoluc (TUR) and Charlie Eastwood (GB) finishing third. Right behind them were the reigning class champions Paul Dalla Lana (CDN), Mathias Lauda (A) and Pedro Lamy (POR) in the Aston Martin Racing version, following an eventful run to fourth place.
The next round of the FIA WEC takes place at Shanghai International Circuit for the 6 Hours of Shanghai on Sunday, 18 November.
Source. Aston Martin