Aston Martin Racing has finished second in the GTE Pro class in the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Six Hours of Sao Paulo, achieving its best WEC result to-date.
Starting from pole position in the #97 Vantage GTE, Stefan Mücke (D) planned to push hard from the start to maintain the lead and extend it throughout the race. However, an LMP2 incident on the first lap held up the GTE Pro class leader, while its competitors avoided it on the outside. Although it escaped unharmed, the Gulf-liveried #97 Vantage re-entered the pack in fourth place and set about climbing back up through the pack.
Taking turns behind the wheel, Mücke and team-mate Darren Turner (GB), used the Vantage GTE’s class-leading pace to pick off the third and second position cars leaving it in a gripping battle for first place. On lap 55, Turner pitted when just 0.3 seconds behind the leading #51 car and the team waited to see what the running order would be, once both cars had refueled, replaced tyres and changed drivers. As Mücke bedded in his new tyres on the warm circuit, the #51 car re-emerged from the pits in second place giving Aston Martin Racing the lead.
However, the position wasn’t held for long and, at the halfway point of the race, the #51 car sneaked past Mücke and traffic made a return challenge difficult for the German. The remainder of the race saw the Aston Martin Vantage GTE chasing the lead around the 2.5-mile Autódromo José Carlos Pace Interlagos circuit, completing 219 laps of problem-free racing.
Darren Turner comments: “We finished third at the Six Hours of Silverstone three weeks ago, so it’s great to be another step higher on the podium here at Interlagos. The Vantage GTE was very fast throughout the race, so it’s a shame we had to do another stop towards the end. The track temperature changed a lot throughout the race, which made tyre choices both important and difficult but, the car ran like clockwork all day and even with the busy circuit, it was fun to drive. The second place finish is another step towards a win and, more importantly, the points will help us to maintain our championship position.”
Stefan Mücke adds: “It was great to be in serious contention for the win and to be chasing down the lead on such a challenging and historic circuit. When the track was warming, the pace of the Vantage was by far the fastest GTE car in the race and it performed perfectly – it’s good to know that it is competitive on a range of circuits. I think we can go into the remaining rounds of the WEC confident that we have the reliability and pace to challenge for race wins.”
Aston Martin Racing’s Team Principal John Gaw concludes: “The car was totally flawless, the drivers were spot on and the mechanics performed some of the smoothest pit stops we’ve ever seen. We completed almost 600 miles of competitive racing without any problems, proving the car’s reliability and durability. The way we overtook every competitor in the GTE Pro class within the first half of the race also shows we have the potential to be the fastest on the track. Without the incident on the first lap, it could have been a very different race for us, but we are delighted to continue our WEC campaign with our best result to- date under our belt.”
Aston Martin Racing is currently second in the WEC GTE Pro Championship with three rounds remaining. The next round of the WEC is the Six Hours of Bahrain, which takes place on the 29th September 2012 on the Bahrain International Circuit.
(Photo: Aston Martin Racing)