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Richards Lauds “Extraordinary” Aston Martin Victory

David Richards, Jonny Adam on Aston Martin’s dramatic GTE-Pro victory…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Prodrive Chairman David Richards praised the “extraordinary” performance of the Aston Martin Racing operation at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, after the team prevailed in a close battle with historic rivals Corvette Racing.

The No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Jonny Adam, Darren Turner and Daniel Serra shadowed the class-leading No. 63 Corvette C7.R of Jordan Taylor after the final stops until the 2015 event-winner flat-spotted a tire on the Mulsanne Straight, which developed into a puncture on the final lap.

Ten years on from AMR’s debut victory at Le Mans in GT1, a beaming Richards professed his delight at the Prodrive-run team’s first GTE-Pro victory, after several near misses in recent times.

“It was quite extraordinary from start to finish, you couldn’t write the script any better could you?” Richards told Sportscar365.

“The big battles were always with the Americans at Corvette, they’re wonderful people, very sporting and we always had great respect for each other’s teams. 

“It is very satisfying result at the end of the day, you can imagine the number of people and that put a number of hours of work in to get to this. It’s been an extraordinary team effort and I’m very proud of everyone.

“The drivers spray the champagne but there are a lot of people back in Banbury who made this happen and deserve the accolade.”

Two-time British GT champion Adam, who was making his second start at the French endurance classic, described his pursuit of Taylor as “the stint of my life.”

After an attempted move at Arnage failed with three laps to go, the Scot was handed another opportunity when Taylor ran wide at the Ford Chicane and he didn’t need to be asked twice.

“After the last pitstop, the Corvette just pipped us on pit exit and it was a case of ‘if you want it, go get it,’” Adam told Sportcar365.

“He looked a little bit weak into Indianapolis, so I had to respond to that. There was a small opportunity at Arnage and I just had to pounce there and then.

“There was a little bit of contact on exit, but after that he had a big lockup down at Mulsanne Two, which then led to the flat spot which led to the puncture.

“To actually get the move done and see the amount of people that were even at that point hanging over the pit wall, it was quite emotional really.

“It’s a big operation with the Aston program in the World Endurance Championship and to see them hang over the wall and see their faces, it brought a tear to my eye, honestly.”

Adam hopes the win will spur a championship challenge, having been thrust into second in the GT Drivers World Championship behind the No. 67 Ford of Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and Pipo Derani, which finished second.

“It was what we needed, obviously the first two rounds were a slow start but Dunlop have done a great job this weekend, they’ve brought a great tire to this event and the team have really dialed in a great setup,” he said.

“We’ve not had to change much over the weekend and it just felt good from the day we rolled it out on Wednesday.

“It puts us in a good place and hopefully as we saw last year, the momentum will hopefully gather from there on.

“Ford are fast, don’t get me wrong, they’re still up there and they’re going to challenge right up to the bitter end but we’re up to taking that challenge to them.”

James Newbold (@James_Newbold) is a UK-based freelance motorsport journalist. A graduate of Politics and International Relations, James is also the editor of Autosport Performance.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. kmath

    June 19, 2017 at 7:26 am

    good on them!!

  2. fourloko

    June 19, 2017 at 8:11 am

    can we all just admit the ford is the best engineered car?

    • el_gordo

      June 19, 2017 at 8:43 am

      Highly doubt the Fords are the best engineered car when four of them can’t keep up with a ten year old Aston unless they’re given a huge pace advantage (last year)

      • Corkscrew

        June 19, 2017 at 9:08 am

        Keep in mind that the Aston Martin is around 60 kg under minimum weight. Without that BoP advantage, the car would be nowhere near the front.

        • Luc

          June 19, 2017 at 9:32 am

          BoP or no BoP, that was a cracking race.
          Still love the Aston Martin’s sound as well as the Corvette’s. But the biggest surprise was lovely loud noise the Porsche gave. Hadn’t heard it in person on track, tv doesn’t do it justice. It’s lovely!

        • el_gordo

          June 19, 2017 at 10:30 am

          I’m fine with that given that without waivers (agreed to by all the other manufacturers) we would have probably never seen the Ford since they wouldn’t have had the cars ready for the anniversary last year and probably never greenlighted the program, I’m guessing if Ford had been BOP’d 3 seconds off the pace like the Aston Vette and Porsche last year Gannasi would have packed up and left given he has already cried since he was only equal this year

          • WBrowning

            June 19, 2017 at 11:25 am

            They were not equal. Last year they were all but equal to the Ferrari. This year the ACO picked Ferrari as the base line, which should have meant very minimal Bop adjustments to the Ford, slowing them slightly. What they got were both boost reductions and 20kg of weight, and it showed. Yes, over all the class was much closer than last year, but there were BoP winners and this year Ford was the only loser.

            That said, I’m very happy for AM and their win. It will be interesting to see what happens at Nurburgring going back to the FIA/WEC BoP levels and the automatic adjustments to follow.

          • TopCat501

            June 19, 2017 at 1:11 pm

            “probably never greenlighted the program”

            Man that statement is way out in left field.

            Ford began development of the GT before the waiver was even presented. If the waiver had been denied the GT would have shown up for the 1st time at this year’s event since too much had been invested by the waiver resolution decision to simply walk away.

            “would have packed up and left”

            Again, I think not because of the money already spent. You need to realize there are economics involved even in racing. In other words try not to let your bias against certain manufacturers over whelm common sense

          • Andy Flinn

            June 19, 2017 at 4:06 pm

            El_gordo, the teams don’t whine about BoP. That’s what the fanboys do.

            Le Mans 2016 was not a fluke BoP win for Ford/CGR. They proved that at Daytona this year and with a podium Sunday.

    • Steven

      June 19, 2017 at 7:20 pm

      No…In GTE. The cars are production-based first. The Ford is the only car that was made as a race car first and needed waivers from every GTE manufacturer. And they still sandbagged last year. Ford was rightfully punished this year.

  3. daedalus

    June 19, 2017 at 10:19 am

    after they took pole I thought it could be Astons year. Although the chassis is old its still very good with the engine pushed right back behind the front wheels and the latest aero kit giving a good drag to downforce ratio which is why they were fast on mulsane.

    Hopefully the new upcoming car will be just as good.

  4. CD

    June 19, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Great GTE Pro race!! Well done indeed.

  5. Joe Dirt

    June 19, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Best category at Le Mans.
    Now just bring that Aston to race in IMSA.

  6. Sccg

    June 19, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    It was a fantastic finish with both drivers putting everything on the table. Wonderful for the fans. No doubt helped be the massive weight break and terrific BoP Aston was given, by some reports worth 2+ seconds per lap. So much for the days of race car design, innovation and exceptional driving being reward by results rather than today’s world of being penalized by BoP changes.

    None the less it was a great race and kudos to Aston and Corvette for jobs well done.

    • Andy Flinn

      June 19, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Sccg, the Porsche 917 was exceptionally designed and innovative race car. In 1972, it was essentially banned from Le Mans (paving the way for a Matra trifecta). Do we want that?

      The Porsche 917 switched to the Can-Am, dominated and was a major factor in the death of that series. Do we want that?

      It is PRECISELY because of BoP that we have five manufacturers currently competing in WEC GTE-Pro, IMSA GTLM and at Le Mans. Not long ago, Team Corvette was racing all alone in ALMS GT1. Do we want that?

      Without BoP, no Aston, no BMW in IMSA GTLM, etc. Aston doesn’t race in IMSA GTLM, in part, because they don’t like IMSA’s BoP – not because they don’t like BoP.

  7. Mal Jorgensen

    June 19, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    You can argue all day long about the merits or otherwise of BOP, but it gave us fans exactly what we wanted – a 24 hr race, involving 5 of the best teams in the business, that could have gone to any of the teams. I am delighted that AMR won, as a lifelong supporter, but take my hat off to the 4 other teams involved who gave us a race that was as sporting as it was exciting. Rather BOP than an F1 style yawnfest. Just sayin’

    • Andy Flinn

      June 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Mal gets it.

  8. Fred

    June 19, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    El Gordo, you really have no idea what the hell you are talking about.. if the ford was not an extraordinary car, people would not be talking so much shit about it. Remember, nobody kicks a dead dog.

  9. asdf

    June 19, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Fantastic race which was possible through a fair, balanced BOP, despite a certain manufacturer’s claim to the contrary. Good on the ACO for not falling for their BS like last year.

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