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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

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