Aston Martin secure memorable LMGTE-Pro victory

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Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing claimed a mem­o­rable vic­to­ry in the GTE Pro class at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. After an entire day of rac­ing, there was prac­ti­cal­ly noth­ing to sep­a­rate the #97 Aston Mar­tin Van­tage, the #63 Corvette C7.R and the #67 Ford GT in what will go down as one of the most excit­ing GT fin­ish­es in Le Mans his­to­ry.

Aston Mar­tin arrived at Le Mans with the old­est car in the field by some con­sid­er­able mar­gin, which debuted in the WEC back in 2012 and can trace its lin­eage back to the Van­tage V8 GT2, which first com­pet­ed in 2008. In fact, this Le Mans would be the Vantage’s last, with a brand-new car due to be launched for the 2018 sea­son. Unlike last year, the rule­mak­ers appeared to have struck the per­fect bal­ance of per­for­mance in GTE Pro, with cars from all 5 man­u­fac­tur­ers rac­ing at the front for extend­ed peri­ods of time. Even after 18 hours of rac­ing, the top six were still on the same lap, swap­ping the lead back and forth through the pit stops.

The pair of GTE Pro Aston Mar­tins made a great start to the race from the front row, mov­ing to the front of the field. How­ev­er, a punc­ture for Nic­ki Thi­im in the #95 car cost it some valu­able time in the pits and left the #97 car of Daniel Ser­ra, Dar­ren Turn­er and John­ny Adam to take on the man­tle. The #97 stayed out of trou­ble through­out the evening and the ear­ly hours, before it began to be chal­lenged by the #63 Corvette C7.R of Jan Mag­nussen, Anto­nio Gar­cia and Jor­dan Tay­lor. It would become a bat­tle that would go to the wire.

In the final pit stops, the Corvette changed dri­vers and tyres while John­ny Adam in the #97 machine stayed on board and only took fuel to cut the gap to sec­ond to just a hand­ful of sec­onds. As the race came to a con­clu­sion, the gap between first and sec­ond in class became nar­row­er and nar­row­er – with the #67 Ford GT of Har­ry Tinck­nell lay­ing in wait to pit up any pieces that might come his way.

With three laps of the race to go, Adam closed in on Jor­dan Tay­lor in the Corvette on the run down from Mul­sanne Cor­ner to Indi­anapo­lis and tried his luck on the inside into Arnage. Despite brak­ing at the lat­est pos­si­ble moment, Adam couldn’t make it stick and Tay­lor kept both his cool and the lead in GTE Pro. How­ev­er, the Corvette and the Aston made minor side-to-side con­tact on the exit of the cor­ner that may have result­ed in what came next.

As the pair raced down to the Mul­sanne Straight on the penul­ti­mate lap, it became clear that not all was right with Jor­dan Taylor’s car. He straight-lined the sec­ond chi­cane and then strug­gled to get the car turned in to the Porsche Curves. He bat­tled brave­ly, but on the exit of the Ford Chi­cane Adam passed the ail­ing Corvette for the lead – to the delight of the massed ranks of fans, many of whom British.

The Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing team were evi­dent­ly ecsta­t­ic after the first vic­to­ry for an Aston Mar­tin at Le Mans since 2010 in the ven­er­a­ble Van­tage GTE’s last hur­rah at the French clas­sic: “I don’t have words to describe the feel­ing. It was my first time in Le Mans and to start on pole was already amaz­ing, then set­ting the race lap record and final­ly win­ing on the last lap was incred­i­ble,” said rook­ie Daniel Ser­ra. “It’s very dif­fi­cult to put into words what it means to Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing and all of our part­ners,” said Aston Mar­tin and it’s her­itage has a strong his­to­ry with this very spe­cial race and to deliv­er a Pro class win with the #97 is a cred­it to every­body involved whether here at the track or what­ev­er part they play with this race team”.

Recent years at Le Mans haven’t been kind to the British team. On many occa­sions since 2010 the Astons have looked com­pet­i­tive, before run­ning into dif­fi­cul­ties dur­ing the race. In 2013, for instance, Frédéric Makowiec­ki, Bruno Sen­na and Dar­ren Turn­er held a two-lap lead on Sun­day morn­ing before Makowiec­ki got out of shape com­ing out of the sec­ond Mul­sanne chi­cane and smashed into the bar­ri­ers. One year lat­er, pow­er steer­ing fail­ure put paid to an impres­sive charge by the #97 machine, while in 2015 Fer­nan­do Rees crashed out while lead­ing in the #99 car in the ear­ly hours.

Source: Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing
Images © Aston Mar­tin Rac­ing / WEC-Mag­a­zin / Wal­ter Schruff / Ton Kerdijk