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Aston Martin Planning U.S. Expansion, GTLM Prospects

Aston Martin planning increase customer support, possible future GTLM entry in IMSA…

Photo: Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin is planning an expansion of its motorsports activities in North America that could include a future semi-factory GT Le Mans class program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as well as GT3 and GT4 customer entries, according to AMR President David King.

The British manufacturer, which debuted its new-generation Vantage GTE in last weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Spa, has also confirmed plans for new versions of the GT3 and GT4-spec Vantage for 2019, which King is hopeful to leverage in the U.S.

“That’s a big open opportunity for us, the U.S. in particular at the top level as well, we’d love to get back into IMSA properly in GTLM in the future,” he told Sportscar365.

“It’s an ambition, not a plan right now, but we’re actively looking for partners now to get back into the U.S. top level [in GTLM].

“Realistically, imagine a top team with some works support running under the AMR banner in the future. That would be quite a nice solution.

“Ultimately GTLM would be nice but GT Daytona would be good with the new car next year.”

King said they’re already talking to a few potential teams for next year, which would likely center around a new sales and distribution partner for the Vantages in North America.

He explained that its previous relationship with TRG “suited our purposes” at the time but is “not the level of support” it needs moving forward in the manufacturer’s expansion plans.

“Things are a lot more stable at Aston Martin Racing now,” King said. “Aston Martin as a company is making a profit, at last, we have a secure future, and our relationship with Prodrive as our global motorsport partner is secure for another five years.

“We’re on a much stronger footing than it’s been in the past.

“We can offer much more with confidence to our customers now, a proper service, choose a really top-line partner and do a proper job of servicing the North American market.”

While King has ruled out a GTLM entry in the WeatherTech Championship this year, he indicated it could be in the cards for 2019.

However, he said the primary focus will be first on establishing and building its customer base with the new-gen GT3 and GT4 models.

“Having made the proper investment in developing new GT3 and GT4 cars we’ll have a platform for the next five years that will allow us to grow the racing and engage more customers,” King said.

“I think we’ve shown to the customers that they can trust us that if they buy a car from us it will be competitive over the long term and you won’t have to buy a new one in two or three years or spend a huge amount on an upgrade package.

“It will be competitive, it will be well supported, it will look great, so I think we’ll see a big demand for the new cars.”

Both GT3 and GT4-spec Vantages will not be homologated until March 1, although King admitted there’s a chance of seeing them debut at Daytona in January.

“I think IMSA would be keen to have us back and I’m sure they’d find ways to help us if the right opportunity came,” he said.

“There is no plan to do it, but if opportunities were to come along, there’s still time to deliver a plan.”

U.S. Single-Make Series an Option

King has also hinted at the possibility of launching a single-make Aston Martin championship in the U.S., likely around the new Vantage GT4 model.

A similar concept had been organized by TRG in 2013 but was short-lived.

“Ultimately, I’d like to think that there might be a single-make opportunity in the future,” King said.

“We have to be careful there because it’s a crowded market and the US is too big a place to run a single-make series nationwide.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. John

    May 8, 2018 at 7:28 am

    Or course, whether it comes to fruition is down to money.

    Andretti has tried more than once to get into sports cars.

    Maybe AA can do it with A-M after failing to get the BMW gig.

    • Tim

      May 8, 2018 at 7:58 am

      Andretti Aston Martin. It’s got a nice ring to it.

      Would be great to see this Aston Martin and Risi come back full season then we will have every GTE car on the grid at once.

  2. jason

    May 8, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Yes make it happen Aston Martin belongs in GTLM in North America no doubt.

  3. David Chaste

    May 8, 2018 at 9:45 am

    Why is Andrerri brought up in these manufacturer discussions. They focus full tilt on the Indy 500. Besides that what have they accomplished in the last 5 years ? Their results are average for their size.

    In proportion to team size, Michael Shank, Dale Coyne, Schmidt Peterson, Ed Carpenter, Spirit of Daytona, JDC-Miller are all much better picks. Give these guys the Honda money bags Andretti gets and they will get better results.

    Andretti’s Acura ARX program was a disaster. Unknown Highcroft racing who had to acquire their engine and tiny Fernandez racing who had to acquire their own chassis outgunned the fully supported Andretti team.

  4. Horatio Lichtenbottom

    May 8, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Andretti can barely pay their bills. This would not be a good fit if AM wants a team that is stable.

  5. Gene

    May 8, 2018 at 11:55 am

    What have they (Andretti) accomplished in the last 5 years?
    How about 3 of the last 4 Indy 500 winners…
    I thought they were looking into bringing a factory Lambo team to IMSA.
    Believe that Mario, Michael and Marco all recently bought/leased/received new Huracans.

    • David Chaste

      May 8, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      Like i said they only focus on the indy 500. Besides that nothing. Aston martin doesn’t race in the Indy 500.

      • David should prob read more than just S365

        May 8, 2018 at 4:36 pm

        Let’s see, majority of the season budget comes from Indy. Yeah, let’s focus on other stuff and well Indy isn’t that important.
        For a guy who has claimed to be around and in racing circles, cluelessness seems to be the theme throughout your postings.
        The reason Andretti is brought up every time is because they are the ONLY team out there without other programs who could run a FUNDED Lamborghini or Aston Martin project.

        ECR-not a prayer they can barely keep their Indy projects
        Coyne-similar to Ed
        Schmidt-Peterson-has never expressed as outside of open wheel interest
        Spirit of Daytona-wants prototype project, neither of those are doing DPi many time soon
        JDC-Miller-possibly but mostly ride buyers and Simpson. Not exactly where is throw my money

        Drivers will sign with Andretti for a factory or semi-factory drive. Just leave Marco at home

        • For real, people? And I'm not even an AA fan

          May 8, 2018 at 9:44 pm

          The fact that SoD was even brought up by the other poster makes me laugh. They haven’t been able to make it to a race since their driver wrecked their only car. And they’re going to be the one to run A-M’s North American operation? Does that deal include ownership of a bridge as well?

          ECR is a small team, with a cozy (Fuzzy?) situation. Coyne spent big bucks to upgrade his engineering staff, but isn’t well-funded by any means, and needs pay drivers to help subsidize SeaBass’ effort. SPM also spent big bucks on its staff, to climb to the next level in IndyCar racing.

          All are focused on IndyCar only. That fact isn’t in dispute.

          But to argue that a multiple Indy winning effort has poor results, and imply that a focus on the 500 is a bad thing is also laughable. Substitute “Indy 500” with “Le Mans,” “Daytona,” or “Sebring” to see how ludicrous such an argument is. Of course the big races are going to be the focus. World Championships are nice for the teams, and drivers, as are individual series wins, but in 5-10-20 years, nobody will remember anything expect who won those big races. By that standard, Penske should also be dismissed, because he focuses on the 500 as well.

          Say what you will about Andretti, Michael’s driving days, or the nepotism that keeps Marco in his seat, but the people in that family know how to run a business, and how to partner with others. That’s what Aston-Martin really seeks, and there are few organizations that have the capacity, and same breadth of experience, especially among those mentioned.

          THAT’s why their name often comes up.

        • David Chaste

          May 9, 2018 at 2:38 pm

          No one is picking Andretti because they’ve had Penske level funding and screwed it up. Success in Indy does not mean success in top level sportscars. If those other teams had Andretti resources they would put on a better sportscar show.

          For reference, with literally a shell of the resources of Andretti, minion highcroft racing was able to outgun Andretti and challenge Penske.

          Andretti was in the running for the BMW GTLM renewal, but the bmw brass probably saw that despite being bigger and better financed, 4-car andretti does not get better overall results than one-car operation RLL.

          So unless you plan on winning Indy Andretti should not be a first choice.

          You gotta be more observant and analyse better.

  6. DysonAIM

    May 8, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve heard Dyson and AIM are looking for a factory partner…

  7. Jr1

    May 8, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    The best team they could choose to run this program is Flying Lizard. They have so much history and success. How cool would that be to see the Lizard livery on an Aston Martin!

    • Mike S.

      May 8, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      Yeah missing FLM in IMSA since they left.

  8. Justin Porter

    May 8, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    I’m mostly here for the hardcore burn on TRG.

    “He explained that its previous relationship with TRG “suited our purposes” at the time but is “not the level of support” it needs moving forward in the manufacturer’s expansion plans.”

  9. Matt

    May 8, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    This is all talk until it actually happens. Aston says this crap every couple of years, brings a car over for one race, gets its ass kicked, and takes everything back home.

    • David Chaste

      May 8, 2018 at 5:18 pm

      Thats true. But thats because their car was really deep down a 2008 GT2 car. IMSA did not want to give them all the rules breaks they wanted, because they werent making a strong commitment ti the series.

      Aston is able to get the rules breaks in wec because they make long term commitments.

      Now that they have an up to date car they feel they can tackle all sticklers.

  10. Mike S.

    May 8, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Would love it but been down this Aston tease before. We’re coming then we’re only doing NAEC then just Daytona then gone.

  11. southcove

    May 8, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    and don’t Aston have to cough up the $$$ manufacturers fee as well? Certainly no private team would be interested in doing that from their own pockets.

    Good results in WEC and at LeMans over the years. Like Corvette, they both should be running equal programs on both sides of the Atlantic.

  12. The Internet Comment Sections Make by Brain Hurt

    May 8, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Andretti can barely pay their bills? Do you mean as multiple Indy 500 winners or as Indy Lights competitors or as a Global Rally Cross team, or as a Formula E team or as the one racing in the Australian V8 Supercars? Because I’d love to have all their “problems”. Yea, the way to deal with barely being able to pay the bills when you are racing in five different championships is to try to get the BMW GTLM program on top of all that. They sound broke to me.

  13. Leonard Pepperbottom

    May 9, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    Ask people like Dallara Who’s on their COD list? Andretti will be one of them.

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