R-Motorsport’s last race this year at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi was also a debut for the team, as the Swiss outfit from Niederwil deployed the brand-new GT3 vehicle made by Aston Martin, the Vantage V8 GT3, for the first time. Marvin Kirchhöfer, Jake Dennis and the team’s new driver Ricky Collard had the honour of giving the car its first race outing. After a promising start, the #96 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3 dropped way down the field following a stop for repairs lasting 35 minutes and crossed the line in 18th place overall and P6 in the GT3 Pro class at the end of the 12 hour race split into two six-hour segments.
R-Motorsport driver Jake Dennis was in fourth place in the GT3 Pro class as he tackled the first stint of the race. The start of the race was interrupted by a long safety car period but went according to plan and the British driver maintained his position in the leading group by posting consistent lap times. After 90 minutes, it was time for the first driver changeover. R-Motorsport newcomer Ricky Collard was ready to take over before the pit stop when a technical problem with the clutch was discovered. Thanks to a terrific performance by the crew, the Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3, bearing start number 96, was able to resume the race after a 35-minute stop for repairs but incurred an 18-lap deficit, so a finish up front was no longer possible.
And so, the team’s objective for Saturday’s second session was to continue working on set-up, to put the Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3 through its paces in its first official R-Motorsport race and gather basic data for future events. R-Motorsport driver Dennis was again at the wheel for the start of the second six-hour session, lining up in P26 on the grid. After a trouble-free second race, the R Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3 came home in 18th place overall and sixth in the GT3 Pro standings.
The Gulf 12 Hours was R-Motorsport’s final race in an exciting and successful GT racing season. The early annual highlight, the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12-hour race on Mount Panorama in Australia (31st January – 3rd February, 2019) is next up on the agenda.
Dr. Florian Kamelger, Team Principal: “The debut of our brand new Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3 was more or less a test under race conditions which helped our team to gather valuable data for the future. Despite the clutch failure which cost us about 35 minutes and 18 laps for repairing it in the garage we take some positives from this race. Our drivers and the team did an excellent job and the speed of the new Vantage is there and we are convinced that we will have a competitive race car for next season.”
Jake Dennis, Driver #96 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3: “I had a good start to the first race and I could stay with the leading group during my first stint. Unfortunately during our first stop when I wanted to handed the car over to Ricky we had a clutch issue which meant that during the next hour we had to make an unscheduled visit to the box to change it which cost us a lot of time. This prevented us from achieving a top result today.”
Marvin Kirchhöfer, Driver #96 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3: “It was a shame that the clutch problem cost us a good race result because the car felt really good and handled well. The new Vantage obviously has a lot of potential and I am looking forward to race it in the future.”
Ricky Collard, Driver #96 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT3: “Despite our technical problem in the first race I really enjoyed driving the car and working with such a professional team like R-Motorsport. I learned a lot from my first race with them. It was an honour to be part of the team this weekend.”
Source. R-Motorsport/Photo. David Benson