After qualifying on the front row and showing superb early race pace Aston Martin had high hopes for the #007 V12 Vantage GT3. Indeed, they took the lead in the second hour and held it until the race was red flagged late on Sunday evening.
After the restart the big Aston couldn’t match it with its German rivals in the still very wet conditions. Then a minor off forced them to settle for a race finish and tenth place was the best they could manage.
Other notable appearances from Aston included the #100 Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S, which had the rather more modest goal of simply finishing the race. That they did, proving a very valuable test for its innovative drivetrain.
Mal Rose and Peter Leemhuis from Australia formed part of the #006 Vantage V8 crew and despite some dramas early on they managed to fight back really well to claim third in the SP8 class.
Of course, 2013 is Aston Martin’s centenary and off-track they entertained racegoers with the stunning CC100 Speedster Concept.
Aston Martin celebrates centenary at NÃ¼rburgring 24 Hours
NÃ¼rburgring, 20 May 2013 â€“ Aston Martinâ€™s weekend of centenary celebrations at the ADAC Zurich NÃ¼rburgring 24 Hours (N24) concluded this evening (Monday 20 May) with a thrilling top-ten result for its Bilstein-liveried V12 Vantage GT3 and a historic finish for its unique Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S in one of the most grueling 24-hour races in recent years.
In a weekend that started with the British luxury sports car maker entering the history books with a zero CO2 emissions hydrogen-powered qualifying lap, the brand also hosted a 100-plus car parade lap of the famous 25 km Nordschleife, led by CEO Dr Ulrich Bez in the stunning CC100 Speedster Concept and motorsport legend Sir Stirling Moss at the wheel of the 1959 1000 km of NÃ¼rburgring race-winning DBR1.
For the race, Aston Martin Racing works driver Pedro Lamy (PT) qualified the Bilstein V12 Vantage GT3 in second position overall. The five-time N24 winner set a blistering time of 8:18.362, stopping the clock just 1.1 seconds behind the pole position winner.
After taking the race lead in the second hour Lamyâ€˜s team-mates Darren Turner (GB), Stefan MÃ¼cke (D) and Allan Simonsen (DN) each led at points as the rain and fog worsened until, finally, the event was red flagged at 22:30 hrs.
The green flag finally waved again at 08:00 hrs today (Monday 20 May) with Aston Martin Racing still leading the race. In persistently wet conditions, the drivers struggled for grip and the V12 Vantage GT3 gradually lost its advantage over its rivals. A brush with the barriers in the difficult early laps affected the carâ€™s handling for the remainder of the race, curtailing any chance to push hard in the improving conditions. Thereafter, the team wisely settled for a safe finish and was delighted to bring the car home in tenth place overall.
John Gaw, Team Principal at Aston Martin Racing comments: â€œThe team did a fantastic job this weekend and we couldnâ€™t have done it without our partners from Bilstein.
â€œOur car performed perfectly on the Michelin slicks and, in the dry, we recorded some of the very fastest lap times of the race. In the wet we struggled with grip, but this is something we will work on together ahead of next yearâ€™s race.â€
Darren Turner adds: â€œWow, another amazing NÃ¼rburgring 24 Hours! As ever, itâ€™s been a whole host of ups and down. It was a great job by Pedro in qualifying and to lead the race up until the red flag was very exciting and showed exactly what the Vantage GT3 can achieve.
â€œComing back next year we need to work on our wet weather pace but, overall, Iâ€™m very proud of the team. As always, itâ€™s been a pleasure to drive with Pedro, Stefan and Allan and the boys did a great job in our pit stops.â€
Alongside the Vantage GT3 charger Aston Martinâ€™s mould-breaking Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S â€“ designed and built with the support of hydrogen specialists Alset Global and based on the manufacturerâ€™s new four-door, four-seat sports GT â€“ achieved its ambitious goal of completing the world-famous 24-hour race.
â€œThis is a historic day for two reasons,â€ explains Jose Ignacio Calindo, CEO of Alset Global. â€œBesides being the first hydrogen-powered race car to compete and undertake zero CO2 emissions laps in an international event, it has showcased the most practical technology available to fundamentally address the challenge of global emissions without disrupting the automotive industry.â€
The #005 V12 Vantage, which encountered a minor electrical issue in the first few hours of the race, charged on through the second section putting in consistently quick laps in the close-to-production specification car. However, its charge was not enough to make up the lost time and the team finished fifth in class.
Also in the SP8 class the #006 V8 Vantage, driven by Aston Martin customers, celebrated a great third in class and a podium finish following a clean run of faultless racing throughout the weekend. The four drivers were awarded with their third place trophies at a ceremony this evening.
David King, Head of Motorsport at Aston Martin, comments: â€œThe NÃ¼rburgring is a place Aston Martin holds close and it seemed fitting to mark our centenary year with a host of powerful and emotive celebrations.
â€œFirst and foremost, however, it was about the race and it was our ambition to bring all of our cars home safely for the eighth successive year. To achieve a top ten finish with the Vantage GT3 is a fantastic achievement, especially given the extremely tough conditions.
â€œWe are also proud to have given our 300-plus VIP guests and our many thousands of fans something really special to celebrate.
â€œAs always the team has done a perfect job, our partners have been incredible and we hope to come back next year even stronger to continue our campaign to win the NÃ¼rburgring 24 Hours.â€
Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez, who drove several stints in the Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S over the course of the race, said: â€œThis yearâ€™s race here at NÃ¼rburgring has been a celebration of all the things that Aston Martin stands for: power, people and dedication!
â€œRecord-breaking hydrogen success incorporating the very latest V12 engine technology, a race-leading performance for the GT3, strong laps from the V12 Vantage and the global unveiling of the stunning CC100 Speedster Concept â€“ created in the spirit of our most famous race car ever, the classic DBR1 â€“ have ensured Aston Martin is once again taking a leading role here.
â€œOur centenary celebrations continue, of course, and now we look forward to more success on track at Le Mans.â€
Aston Martin will next race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, which Aston Martin Racing is currently leading with its #97 Vantage GTE.