Aston Martin Racing’s new #97 Vantage GTE has qualified in third place on its competitive debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring, Florida, setting a time within 0.2 seconds of the pole-winning lap. Its sister car, the #007 2012-specification Vantage GTE, also enjoyed a strong session and qualified fourth in the GT class.
In the fiercely competitive 15-minute qualifying session, Aston Martin Racing factory driver Stefan Mücke (D) took to the 3.74-mile track in the V8-powered #97 Vantage GTE and delivered his fastest lap of the week, stopping the clock at 1:58.990.
Pedro Lamy (PT) set a time of 1:59.208 in the #007 Vantage GTE, which will see the car start from fourth on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
John Gaw, team principal at Aston Martin Racing, comments: “The test programmes at Portimão and Road Atlanta went really well and enabled us to start this race weekend problem-free. The car and team have both run smoothly all week and this was carried through into the qualifying session.
“It’s great to have both cars up towards the front of the grid. Pedro did an outstanding job to qualify nearly a second quicker than the same specification car managed here last year. The only hiccup has been the illness in the team, but it looks like everything will be sorted for the race tomorrow.”
Stefan Mücke comments: “We’re here at Sebring to prepare the new car for the FIA World Endurance Championship. This week has been a very promising start to the campaign but there’s more to get out of the car, for sure.”
Pedro Lamy adds: “I got a nice clear run at the best moment of the tyres. I was getting faster each lap but then the session ended. The car feels good and the team did a great job. The car is not quite as quick as the #97, but our set-up work this week has made it incredibly good to drive around the Sebring International Raceway.
“I’m feeling good ahead of the race. It’s a long race but if we can get good rhythm and can stay out of trouble we should get a really good result.”
Aston Martin Racing is running a pair of Vantage GTEs in the American Le Mans Series season opener in the GT class. The 2013-specification #97 car will be driven by long-standing factory drivers Darren Turner (GB) and Stefan Mücke (D) alongside new signing Bruno Senna (BR), while the #007 machine – built to 2012 specifications – will be driven by Aston Martin Racing newcomers Billy Johnson (US), Pedro Lamy (PT), and Paul Dalla Lana (CA).
The race starts at 1030h local time on Saturday, 16 March. Follow the team’s progress at www.astonmartin.com/racing, on Facebook www.fb.com/astonmartinracing and on Twitter using @amr_official.