Aston Martin Racing hopes it can join the battle for GTE-Pro honors at the 24 Hours of Le Mans despite running almost five seconds off the pace at the Test Day.
The British manufacturer is defending the class title with its new-generation Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which made its debut last month at Spa.
At the test, all cars were subject to the Le Mans-specific Balance of Performance, which gave both newcomer entries – the Aston Martin and the BMW M8 GTE – a starting weight of 1268 kg.
When asked by Sportscar365, AMR managing director John Gaw would not explicitly refer to a potential BoP adjustment during race week, although he did suggest rules makers the FIA and ACO have “all the right data” to ensure the Astons can close up to the pack.
“I’m expecting when we get to the race that we’ll be competitive,” Gaw told Sportscar365.
“That’s what everyone wants. It’s what the FIA want, it’s what Aston Martin wants, it’s what the team wants.
“We’re not looking to have the fastest car and we’re not looking to have a competitive advantage.
“We’re just looking to be competitive. I’m confident that they’ve got all the right data and all the right processes to do that.”
Gaw said the Astons lagged in a straight line during the test but exhibited even pace with the other cars in the corners.
The fastest Aston lap – a 3:57.488 set by Alex Lynn – was 4.927 seconds slower than the quickest GTE-Pro time which came courtesy of Patrick Pilet the No. 93 Porsche 911 RSR.
“On our predictions and sims, the Test Day was exactly where we expected to be,” said Gaw.
“We ran low fuel, new tires, and pretty much just optimized the setup as we could with the track conditions on the day.
“That’s pretty much what we saw at Spa as well. The FIA and ACO wanted to see the data in Le Mans spec and they’ve got it now.
“I’m hoping that we have a competitive race and I’m sure the ACO are open to saying that all the cars can fight with each other.”
Porsche, Ford Doubtful of Aston Numbers
Both Porsche and Ford, which shared out the top seven positions in the Test Day, however, have expressed doubt towards Aston Martin’s showing.
Ford WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell told Sportscar365 that he was surprised at the pace of the new Vantage, which has logged over 20,000 km in pre-season testing.
“I find it really hard to believe that when you look at where the cars are, and where the Am cars are, that the Pro Aston is that far away,” he said.
“Given the framework of the GTE regs, you would expect the car to be a little bit faster than that. But ultimately, it’s all qualified by what they were attempting to do on the Test Day, and I can’t comment on that really.
“If they ran just to a certain race pace, perhaps being a bit conservative, then maybe they do need some help.
“On the other hand, maybe they don’t need some help if they were trying, which I find hard to believe.”
Porsche GT factory motorsports director Pascal Zurlinden echoed Howard-Chappell’s sentiment, adding, “Five seconds is 100 horsepower. I don’t think the BoP is wrong by 100 horsepower.
“The engine has been measured by the FIA, and the car was measured in the wind tunnel, so it’s surprising.”