Aston Martin Racing will travel to China this week for the final round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Six Hours of Shanghai, with the goal of extending its run of podium finishes and securing second position in the intensely competitive GTE Pro class.
Across the first seven rounds of the inaugural WEC season, during which the #97 Vantage GTE has competed at iconic race tracks such as Le Man’s Circuit de la Sarthe and Sebring International Raceway, the V8-powered racer has performed reliably and competitively to rack up an impressive tally of six podium finishes. The team holds second position in the hotly contested category as a result.
However, with the third-placed Porsche a single point behind and with just the Shanghai round remaining, the Gulf-liveried car must finish ahead of its rival this weekend to secure a final championship standing that Aston Martin Racing Team Principal John Gaw said would “exceed expectations for the team’s first year back in GT racing.”
The final race of the season will see works drivers Darren Tuner (GB) and Stefan Mücke (D) take to the Shanghai International Circuit, located on the outskirts of Shanghai, China. The demanding 5.4km circuit and six-hour race duration promise to test the drivers and the Vantage GTE to the limit in what looks set to be a tense climax to a remarkable season for Aston Martin Racing.
“To finish second in the championship would be fantastic and I think it’d come as a surprise to many,” comments Gaw. “The 2012 season marked Aston Martin’s return to GT racing and our goals at the start of the year were to be competitive, reliable and to score a couple of podium results. So far, we’ve had six podiums out of seven and have challenged for the win on a good few occasions.
“This weekend, it is our goal to finish ahead of the #77 Porsche and, as a result, finish second in the championship. If we can also get our first WEC win that would be fantastic and, of course, we go to Shanghai aiming for the top step of the podium, but until we start the first practice session we won’t know if this is achievable.
“We learned in Fuji that the abrasiveness of the track surface is more influential on our performance than track layout because the Vantage GTE is so light on its tyres. Once we’ve put in a few laps of the circuit we’ll know if it we will be able to get the grip levels required to get the most out of the car.”
Darren Turner comments: “Again, Shanghai is another new circuit to learn but from everything I’ve heard it’s an amazing place and a very interesting circuit. It’s always great to be able to visit somewhere new and is a great venue to finish the season.
“It’s really hard to say if the circuit will suit us. I thought Fuji would have been good for the Vantage GTE but it proved to be maybe our least competitive circuit this year. Hopefully that won’t be the same this time out and we can have a good crack for our first win of the season. Our priority has to be securing second in the championship and, as there is only one point between us, it’s going to be an intense weekend. The good thing is the guys have really found some extra pace in the pitstops so it’s down to Stefan and I to get the everything we can out of the car.”
Stefan Mücke adds: “It will be my first time on the Shanghai GP circuit but the second time for me in Shanghai – I did a DTM race in 2004 inside the city on the street circuit – so I’m really looking forward to going back. The track looks quite difficult with a lot of interesting corners. We hope that it suits the car and that we can manage to be on the top step after the end of the six hours.
“It will be also an interesting fight between us and the Porsche for P2 in the championship, one that we are very focused on winning! Finishing second in the GTE Pro championship in our first return year to GT racing would be a great achievement for the whole team.”
The 2012 season marked Aston Martin’s return to GT racing; a discipline in which the marque has enjoyed huge success, most notably winning the GT class at Le Mans in both 2007 and 2008. The Vantage GTE is based on the road-going Vantage; the sportiest model in the prestigious marque’s line-up.
Aston Martin Racing is currently second in the WEC GTE Pro Championship with just one round remaining. The Six Hours of Shanghai takes place on Sunday 28th October 2012 on the Shanghai International Circuit.