Aston Martin returns to the Ring for the seventh successive year and will field four factory cars this weekend. That will be matched by a further four customer cars, meaning a total of eight Astons will be tested to the limit for 24 hours.
Of course, the coolest thing about Aston Martin’s involvement at the 24 hour race is seeing company boss Dr Ulrich Bez in a set of race overalls and behind the wheel in race conditions. This year Dr Bez will be in the stunning V12 Zagato pictured above; he will be joined by fellow Aston employees Chris Porritt and Wolfgang Schuhbauer. Evo journo Richard Meaden will round out the four driver line up.
The other big news for AUSringers readers is that Mal Rose has secured a factory drive in an V8 Vantage this year. Mal is best know for bringing some good old Aussie V8 power to the Ring, but we’re sure he won’t mind settling in with a British icon this year. Mal will be joined by fellow Australian Rob Thomson as well as Jurgen Stumpf and Peter Cate.
You can read Aston Martin’s full preview after the break.
Aston Martin steps up its NÃ¼rburgring 24 hour programme
Gaydon, 11 May 2012 â€“ For the seventh successive year, Aston Martin will compete in the ADAC Zurich NÃ¼rburgring 24 Hours (19/20 May) as a total of eight Vantage racers gear up for the endurance epic. The marque will field its most ambitious entry to date with four official Aston Martins â€“ including a pair of V12-powered Vantage GT3s â€“ supported by a further four customer cars.
In excess of 170 cars will start the fearsome 24-hour race, which runs on the daunting 25km circuit that combines the legendary Nordschleife with the modern Grand Prix track. Having focused its efforts in previous years on near production-specification cars since its 2006 NÃ¼rburgring24 Hour debut, Aston Martin will, for the first time, be represented in the senior SP9 category for FIA-homologated GT3 cars. The pair of V12 Vantage GT3s will be run in association with long-standing official partner team, Young Driver AMR.
The lead Vantage GT3, carrying the iconic #007 designation, will be driven by Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck (A) â€“ sons of triple NÃ¼rburgring 24 Hour winner Hans-Joachim Stuck â€“ alongside Dennis Rostek (D) and Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner (GB). Turnerâ€™s regular works team-mate, Stefan MÃ¼cke, will drive the #006 car with Tomas Enge (CZ), Fredy Barth (CH) and Oliver Mathai (D).
In addition, Aston Martinâ€™s engineering department will return with the spectacular V12 Zagato concept car that made its NÃ¼rburgring24 Hour debut in 2011. Targeting another successful race finish will be Aston Martin Chief Executive Dr Ulrich Bez (D), Chief Engineer Chris Porritt (GB), Aston Martin NÃ¼rburgring Test Centre Director Wolfgang Schuhbauer (D) and renowned motoring journalist and racer Richard Meaden (GB).
Ahead of the race, Dr Bez said: â€œOur 100 per cent finishing record in thirteen starts in one of the worldâ€™s toughest endurance races is remarkable; truly a testament to the reliability of our cars and the efforts of our people. In the past six years we have deliberately focused on racing close-to-production cars, achieving seven class podiums and three class wins. For 2012, I am delighted to be returning again to drive our V12 Zagato with my engineering team, but also to have such an exciting step up with the V12 Vantage GT3s.â€
The fourth official entry will be a V8-powered Vantage run by Aston Martinâ€™s NÃ¼rburgring Test Centre team and driven by Jurgen Stumpf (D), Australians Mal Rose and Rob Thomson, and Peter Cate (GB). Aston Martin will be represented by four further customer outfits, including Team Mathol Racing, winners of the SP10 class for GT4 cars in 2010.
David King, Aston Martinâ€™s Head of Motorsport, said: â€œThe NÃ¼rburgring 24 Hour race is the most important 24-hour race in the world for GT cars. The quality of the entry in the GT3 class and throughout the field is truly impressive. It is a hugely important step for us to be challenging in the SP9 class, with a top class partner team and a fine driver line up. The V12 Vantage GT3 has a direct line to our V12 Vantage road car, sharing the same chassis and base engine, and I know all the fans will love to see and hear these cars hopefully running near the front of the pack.â€
John Gaw, Aston Martin Racing Team Principal, added: â€œ2012 is a development season for the new V12 Vantage GT3 and the Young Driver AMR team are being closely supported by Aston Martin Racing to tune the car to the unique demands of the Nordschleife. We see this as the first step in a longer term plan to challenge for race victory at the NÃ¼rburgring in future years, but we are already greatly encouraged by the performance of the car in recent four hour VLN races here.â€
Young Driver AMR Team Principal, Hardy Fischer, concluded: â€œIt is an honour and also a big challenge for my team to be representing Aston Martin at this great event; it is something we have wanted to do for a long time. The racing and working conditions are unique â€“ for the cars, the drivers and the team â€“ it takes some getting used to, but we are ready for the challenge.â€
The 40th ADAC Zurich NÃ¼rburgring 24 Hours starts at 1600hrs CET on Saturday, 19 May. Keep up to date with Aston Martinâ€™s progress on the official website at www.astonmartin.com/racing, or on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/astonmartinracing and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amr_official.
Fans can follow the race live via Radio Le Mans at www.radiolemans.com, which will broadcast for the duration of the 24 hours.