American Le Mans Series: Aston Martin Vantage GTE Set to Tackle the Streets of Long Beach
Aston Martin Racing’s V8-powered Vantage GTE will make its second competitive outing on round two of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Long Beach, California, on 14 April. The team will compete in the two-hour street circuit race in a bid to continue the development of its FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) contender in preparation for the forthcoming Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
Aston Martin Racing is well acquainted with the ALMS having competed in the series with the DBR9 GT1 car in 2005 and 2006 and more recently winning the Laguna Seca round outright in 2011 with the DBR1/2 LMP1 prototype. In line with the factory outfit’s return to production-based motorsport for 2012, the team will run in the heavily manufacturer supported GT category at Long Beach with its sights set on a reliable, competitive performance.
John Gaw, Aston Martin Racing Team Principal, said: “It’s always a pleasure to compete in this high profile event at the home of Aston Martin in North America. The Long Beach street race is a highlight of the calendar and we look forward to hosting many guests from our sponsor, Lowe’s. Our aim is a competitive and reliable performance, but another podium result is certainly not out of the question. A street race is always a bit of a lottery and we’ve not had much testing time, but we will arrive on the back of a strong performance at Sebring with experienced drivers and a competitive car.”
Factory drivers Darren Turner (GBR) and Adrian Fernandez (MX) will share the Vantage GTE at Long Beach. While Turner is an experienced GT racer having twice won the GT1 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Aston Martin Racing, Fernandez is new to the discipline having spent the vast majority of his career in open-wheelers and prototypes; he’ll use the Long Beach outing to further familiarise himself with the unique challenge of GT racing having already shown himself to be highly competitive on his GTE debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.
Ahead of his Long Beach debut, Turner said: “We had a good race at Sebring; to even get a finish in the car’s first 12-hour race was fantastic but to also take a podium and show good pace was great. I haven’t actually raced at Long Beach before and I’ve heard it’s a challenging street circuit so I’m really looking forward to racing there and also enjoying the special Long Beach atmosphere that I have heard so much about.”
Team-mate Fernandez added: “I am excited to be back racing in Long Beach. This is a fantastic event with tremendous crowds and atmosphere. Obviously, this year will be a completely new experience for me in the #007 Lowe’s Vantage GTE. With the race at Sebring and our recent tests, I have logged a lot of miles and have really progressed on my learning curve in this type of car. It will be an entirely different ballgame with 35 cars on the tight street circuit, but all of us at Aston Martin Racing have a lot of confidence going into the race. The car has been performing extremely well and if we can stay out of trouble, I think we can have another strong finish.”
The 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit is particularly challenging for its bumpy surface and unforgiving walls, which leave no margin for error. Aston Martin Racing’s second outing of the season comes weeks after the Vantage GTE scored a WEC podium on its competitive debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The shorter, two-hour Long Beach race will place more emphasis on outright race pace rather than durability, offering a whole new challenge for both the team and car.
The team’s next WEC race will be the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, on 5 May, before its next ALMS outing at Laguna Seca on 12 May.
Source: Aston Martin Racing