With a challenging start to its U.S. campaign, Aston Martin Racing is unlikely to take part in the remainder of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup, the British manufacturer has revealed.
Team principal John Gaw confirmed the single-car GTLM program, based around current FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Am points leader Paul Dalla Lana, has no plans to contest either the Six Hours of The Glen or Petit Le Mans later this year.
“[Paul’s] not planning to right now,” Gaw told Sportscar365. “He’s 100 percent focused on winning the world title. He’s pretty busy with his business right now.
“But there’s always a pre-Le Mans and post-Le Mans world in motorsport. We’re pre-Le Mans right now.”
Dalla Lana teamed with works drivers Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Darren Turner for a sixth place finish in class at Sebring, after early race issues derailed the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8.
It came after an equally challenging outing in Daytona, which had put the team 9th in the Patron Endurance Cup GTLM standings.
Gaw said they had earmarked last year’s No. 97 Aston Martin car, now in the hands of Beechdean Motorsport, for the final two races, after having started the season with Dalla Lana’s chassis, which is now committed to the FIA WEC.
The decision to likely forgo the remaining rounds was not based on Balance of Performance, a factor that triggered AMR’s withdrawal from its planned program following Daytona.
“I think the championship is really solid right now,” Gaw said. “This time last year it was tough but they really got on top of it.
“But it will be interesting to see the impact of WEC now that there’s TV in the U.S. and what that means for some of the U.S. teams and sponsors.”
While Gaw said the priority for the team remains in the FIA WEC, which has expanded to a five-car operation this year, he wouldn’t rule out a return to the TUDOR Championship in the future, should it be commercially viable.
“We’d love to have a factory effort in the U.S. but our operations are commercially based,” he said. “We don’t sit down and say, ‘Here’s this big pot of money, where do we go spend it?’ The priority for us is the World Championship. That’s the most important thing for the manufacturer.
“But if we had a very interesting commercial opportunity in the U.S., either from a sponsor or a driver, we’d 100 percent love to do it. For Aston, it’s important as well, just not as important as the WEC.”
Looking ahead to next year, Gaw alluded to the possibility of returning to Sebring as it will coincide with the launch of Aston Martin’s Vantage replacement.
“I think the most important race for us next year would be Sebring because it falls quite shortly after the Geneva Motorshow,” he said.
“There’s likely to be some news on the road side of things. From an Aston Martin perspective, if you wanted to do one race in the U.S., as a Pro effort, Sebring would be the most interesting.”