Shortly after the reveal of the new gen Vantage, Aston Martin Racing took the covers off their WEC challenger. The Vantage GTE was developed alongside the road going car and will defend Aston Martin’s Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro class title in the FIA World Endurance Championship next season.
The Vantage carries forward the hardware from the previous generation championship-winning V8 Vantage. The new GTE is built at the carmaker’s racing headquarters in Banbury, UK, where the previous car was built. The older car is credited with 37 of the team’s 51 international race victories, including two Le Mans 24 Hour class wins. So the new Vantage GTE has some big shoes to fill.
Therefore, Aston Martin Racing has already put the new Vantage GTE to test way before the road car. The race car has completed more than 13,000km of testing including a 30-hour run at the Circuito de Navarra in Spain. The race car was also put through its paces at the notorious Sebring circuit in Florida. All of Aston Martin Racing’s current drivers have contributed to its test programme.
The same Mercedes-AMG 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 engine powers the GTE. However, the powertrain is tweaked by Aston Martin Racing to do its duties in the Vantage GTE. Other technical changes include Alcon racing brakes, Ohlins suspension, and bespoke Michelin tyres. There are massive race-spec diffusers at the back as well. The gigantic wing at the back, exhaust tips behind the front wheels, splitters on the front gaping-grille and the sculpted hood differentiates the race car from the standard Vantage.
For the new season, Aston Martin Racing has retained much of its driver line-up. So this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro class winners – Darren Turner and Jonny Adam – have been retained. As have been the Danish duo and 2016 FIA WEC GTE Pro world champions, Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen. Additionally, AMR has also recruited ex-GP2 race winner and now Formula E racer Alex Lynn.
The all-new Vantage GTE will make its racing debut at the Spa Francorchamps in Belgium on 5 May. The next season of WEC will be a ‘super season’ spanning over 2018 and 2019.