After months of delays, TRG will debut its Rolex Series-spec Aston Martin Vantage in this weekend’s Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
TRG-AMR North America team principal Kevin Buckler confirmed to Sportscar365 late Thursday that Aston Martin factory driver Darren Turner and recent Pirelli World Challenge winner Brandon Davis will share the wheel of the No. 66 entry in Sunday’s penultimate round of the Rolex Sports Car Series.
It will mark the debut of the car in full Rolex Series trim, as Buckler peddled the V12-powered car, running FIA-spec aero, to a sixth place finish in last month’s Pirelli World Challenge race at Sonoma Raceway, the same event where Davis took TRG’s Vantage GT4 to the GTS class victory.
“We’ve been waiting and getting this right,” said Buckler. “We brought the car over; we tested it at Sonoma; we took it back to England; we tested it over there; we brought it back to Sonoma and ran it in the World Challenge race to shake it down. And now here we are.”
One of the big hurdles has been adopting the series-mandated Bosch ECU system into the car, a procedure which resulted in the GT3-based machine being sent back to Aston Martin Racing in England last month to work out some gremlins.
“The aero is easy for us but the Bosch electronics required a new engine loom, a new chassis loom and then get all of the shift and engine strategies sorted out,” explained AMR Team Principal John Gaw. “It was quite a lot of time and quite a lot of effort to do that.”
Other changes to the car to make it GRAND-AM compliant included the addition of a sonic air restrictor and elimination of traction control and ABS, although the two driver aids are rumored to become eligible for competition in the GTD category next year.
On the aero side, Gaw said the Aston will be sporting a significantly smaller splitter and spec wing this weekend, along with other modifications to the fenders and hood to reduce downforce.
“The car handles very well in FIA spec,” Buckler said. “We did go and test the car since then with the GRAND-AM spec stuff. Definitely, we have some power-down traction issues, which is what we expected with the tiny wing with no aero on the car.
“The good news is that translating that over to Laguna Seca, it’s not a track that has that as an endemic issue. It’s more of a push track. We’re concerned about the lack of aero for sure, but reliability wise, the car feels good.
“I don’t know where we’ll stand in terms of competition but I know we’ll be giving it one hell of a run… This is really about bringing the car into the series, showing the world that we’re here and ready to play… It’s our time. We’re ready to come out.”
Buckler confirmed the car will complete the Rolex Series season at Lime Rock Park later this month, but with a to-be-determined driver lineup.
Turner and Davis are also expected to pilot a TRG-entered Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in this weekend’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.