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Aston Martin Hoping for Even GTE-Pro Fight

John Gaw hoping Aston Martins will be more competitive after off-pace Le Mans test…

Photo: Olivier Beroud Images

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.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Erwin Greven

    June 11, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    I think there is a small error in the lap time: 3:37.488. Shouldn’t that be 3:57.488

  2. Bopper

    June 11, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Title should be

    “Aston Hoping BoP Saves Them From Doing Proper Development.”

    But hey, they’re just doing what BMW did a couple months ago. The Bavarians’ whine offensive worked swimmingly in the US, then turned out to be rather unnecessary once they started maximizing their new car.

    • Mike S

      June 11, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      Ah I think BMW was a bit of a different situation. Yeah both had gotten new cars and at last minute last year all the manufacturers said no BMW we aren’t going to allow that and had to go back to the drawing board just a few months before the season started. They cried hard. Aston has a new car this year and didn’t face the same issue as BMW but they aren’t crying hard like BMW did. They could be sandbagging but like article says depends on program they were running on test day which Aston made clear, for the most part.

      • Bopper

        June 11, 2018 at 5:14 pm

        I’m not really commenting on the degree of crying, but rather the expectations (understandable from a marketing, if not ethical, standpoint) that manufacturers have for brand new race cars. It used to be that it took up to a full season for teams to maximize the potential of their new toys, and being slower than the established cars at first was just normal. They no longer accept a development period, especially if rivals are shamelessly/successfully pressuring series officials too.

        In general, I take any explanation for poor performance given via press release (like BMW’s claim of a last minute redesign) with several grains of salt.

        • Bopper’s Bro

          June 11, 2018 at 10:46 pm

          Well Porsche showed up with a brand new car last year and nearly won the Daytona 24H in its debut race. So that kind of kills your theory.

          You can develop the perfect race car but when a series doesn’t have the bop correct you’re not going to be competitive.

          And or if you sandbag like crazy like they’re doing. Either way I just hope for a good race!

  3. southcove

    June 11, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Live and die by the BoP…modern day racing where the factories must maximize their investments or lose the potential for next year’s funding…

  4. Johannes275

    June 11, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Sorry Aston, you’re not winning this year, Bop or not. Your car is just too clearly crap.

  5. fourloko

    June 11, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    they should be able to see in the data if they are running max boost at any rpm set by BOP. maybe they are running smaller turbo inlet restrictors, that way it would show right boost pressure but volume would be less.

    • Matt

      June 11, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      That doesn’t make sense. To generate a given pressure for a given volume the inlet size would have no effect except making it take longer to reach that pressure.

  6. Sorc

    June 11, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    What does it matter, they’re not allowed to win this year anyway.

    • BirdBrick

      June 12, 2018 at 11:08 am

      What makes you say that the car is crap?

  7. Davy

    June 11, 2018 at 9:29 pm

    These guys are undoubtedly trying to cheat the system again.

    • Tiitto

      June 12, 2018 at 2:35 am

      You are confused. This isn’t about Ford.

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