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  3. New Aston Martin GT3 secures historic victory in the Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa

New Aston Martin GT3 secures historic victory in the Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa

03 Jul 2024
  • What did Sørensen and Thiim achieve for the first time as teammates in the same car?

Aston Martin has recorded a glorious overall victory in the Crowdstrike 24 Hours of Spa – the world’s most prestigious all-GT3 24 hour race which took place at Spa-Francorchamps, in Belgium, over 29-30 June weekend. The win, claimed by Aston Martin partner team Comtoyou Racing, and works drivers Mattia Drudi (ITA), Marco Sørensen (DEN) and Nicki Thiim (DEN), was the first for the British ultra-luxury sportscar brand since 1948. The result also marked a maiden 24-hour triumph for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and was the first time the famous Wings had beaten its major competition in the Belgian endurance classic since it became an-all GT event in 2001.

Aston Martin 24-Hour Overall Victory

Aston Martin 24-Hour Overall Victory

For double FIA GT World Endurance champion Thiim and triple world champion Sørensen, affectionally known within the sport as the ‘Dane Train’, victory represents the first time the duo have won a 24-hour race overall as team-mates in the same car, in spite of them having three 24 Hours of Le Mans class wins between them.

Sørensen said: “This is a very special moment. To win already in the first year with the new Vantage GT3 is an amazing achievement. It’s a fantastic car, and we’ve had a good feeling about it all year. But to win an event like this takes more than good driving and good luck, and the team, and everyone back at Aston Martin Racing, as well as my team-mates deserve credit for a victory I will remember forever.”

Thiim added: “It’s difficult to put into words what this means to me, and to Aston Martin. We have been trying to win this race for a long time, and to do it in this way is an incredible feeling. I think everyone knows how I feel about Aston Martin. We have had so many special memories together, and this win is up there with the best of them for me.”

For Drudi, a Fanatec GT World Europe champion, it was an opportunity to shine on one of endurance racing’s biggest stages, and that he did, putting the #007 car in contention every time he stepped in the cockpit – including during the opening hours of the race, where he’d worked the team into a leading position before the first of multiple Safety Car Periods.

A complicated night of racing, where torrential thunderstorms and multiple incidents neutralised the event for several hours, Comtoyou Racing remained composed and kept the car in touch with the leading fight, even as pitstops during the Safety Car periods forced 20-car swings in the race positions on occasion.

Each time, the team rebounded and raced back to the front so that as morning came and the track dried out, it found itself in a straight fight for victory with a rival Ferrari, two BMWs and the other Pro class #34 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of partner team Walkenhorst Motorsport, driven by Henrique Chaves (POR), Ross Gunn (GBR) and David Pittard (GBR).

In the final hour of the race the #7 Comtoyou Racing Aston Martin trailed the Ferrari by 10s, when its rival pitted and was held-up in the pitlane entry by a stranded car. This turn of events prevented Ferrari with the chance to race for the win and denied the fans a grandstand finish as Drudi raced to the flag unopposed.

“To win with Nicki and Marco has been a fantastic experience,” said Drudi. “This is such a tough race, but I would say we had the perfect run, with no problems and a very good execution. I am very proud of everyone in the team.”

Gunn brought the #34 Walkenhorst Vantage GT3 home fourth following a strong run for the team that saw it lead on several occasions.

Indeed Walkenhorst Motorsport, a previous winner of the event, came close to clinching the Silver Cup class victory in the #35 Vantage GT3 driven by 2022 AMR Driver Academy graduate Romain Leroux (FRA) and 2024 candidates Lorcan Hanafin (GBR) and Maxime Robin (FRA). Unfortunately, the car was the innocent victim of an accident, following a Safety Car period on Sunday morning, while fighting for the lead of the class.

Of Comtoyou Racing’s four-car entry, which completed a record seven-car assault on the race by Aston Martin, the #007 was often the fastest car in the race, but the team’s #21 Silver Cup car driven by Charles Clark (GBR), Sam Dejonghe (BEL), Matisse Lismont (BEL) and Xavier Maassen finished sixth, having led the class earlier in the race.

The new Vantage GT3, closely derived from the new Vantage road car unveiled earlier this year at Silverstone, and built around Aston Martin’s proven bonded aluminium chassis and powered by its fearsome twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine, is in a rich vein of form. In the month of June alone it has clinched victories in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the SUPER GT Series, the Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie and Road to Le Mans event. Now Aston Martin can add one of the most famous wins in its racing history to that tally.

Adam Carter, Head of Endurance Motorsport, said: “We offer our sincere congratulations and thanks to our partners Comtoyou Racing on this fantastic victory for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3. We have known since the start of the season what the car is capable of, and this performance at Spa was through a combination of technical excellence, endurance, fortitude and execution. I’d also like to congratulate Walkenhorst Motorsport on a hard-fought performance which was unfortunate not to yield a podium finish. The hard work of everyone at Aston Martin Racing is paying off already in a car that is still so young. To win the 24 Hours of Spa is no small achievement and given that it had only been done three times by a British manufacturer in its 100-year history, and now twice by Aston Martin, it ranks as one of our greatest endurance victories.”

Aston Martin’s previous best Spa 24 Hours finish of the GT3 era was in 2021, when Gunn, Sørensen and Thiim secured a competitive third place overall, having been in the lead fight for much of the race. Prior to that, the best GT finish for an Aston Martin was also third, in 2008, with the Gigawave DBR9 GT1. Aston Martin last won the event in 1948, when it was run to different regulations, with a 2-Litre Sports DB1 driven by Britons St John Horsfall and Leslie Johnson.

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24 Jul 2024

The new Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR-LMH has hit the track for the first time, as Aston Martin with The Heart of Racing begins a comprehensive testing programme ahead of the British ultra-luxury sportscar brand’s bid to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright next year and for the first time since 1959.

The new Hypercar, developed by Aston Martin Performance Technologies and works team The Heart of Racing, completed a shakedown and initial evaluation testing in the UK this week, The car was driven by Aston Martin High Performance development driver Darren Turner (GBR), The Heart of Racing’s Mario Farnbacher (DEU) and Harry Tincknell (GBR), who won the LMGTE class of the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans with Aston Martin.

Aston Martin with The Heart of Racing will now commence a full development schedule to prepare the car ahead of FIA homologation in the autumn and its competitive debut in early 2025. The Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR-LMH is the first racing car to be built to Hypercar regulations to contest both the FIA World Endurance Championship [WEC] and the US-based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship [IMSA] simultaneously.

The Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR-LMH is unique in the top Hypercar class of global endurance motorsport in that it is the only one among its contemporaries to derive its roots from an existing production-based extreme performance car – Aston Martin Valkyrie, the ultimate hypercar. Works team The Heart of Racing will enter two Valkyrie AMR-LMH contenders in WEC and a single car in IMSA in 2025.

Adam Carter, Aston Martin Head of Endurance Motorsport, said: “The Valkyrie AMR-LMH sets its own standard as a thoroughbred endurance competition car. It is a pure, leading edge racing machine, and while it is very early in the testing cycle, from what we have witnessed so far, we are satisfied that it is achieving the targets and criteria we have set out for it to accomplish.”

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