Paul Dalla Lana has described parting with his regular Aston Martin Racing GTE-Am co-drivers after six seasons as “one of the tougher decisions” he has had to make in racing.
The Canadian, who purchased a second-generation Aston Martin Vantage GTE for the car’s first season of customer eligibility, had contested 34 races on the trot with Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy before last weekend’s 4 Hours of Silverstone.
The 2019-20 season-opener marked Dalla Lana’s first race with both the new Vantage and his new co-drivers Darren Turner and Ross Gunn, who are both Aston Martin works-affiliated.
“It was one of the tougher decisions I’ve ever had to come upon,” Dalla Lana told Sportscar365 when asked about the process of switching to a new lineup.
“It still doesn’t feel right, even in the first event, being around missing these guys a lot. It was a tough thing.
“I’m good friends with and had good results with Pedro and Mat, so it’s never easy to make that sort of decision. But I think with everything we knew, we just had that need for a little fresh air.
“They’ve both been great teammates and friends over the years. But for me [the end of last season] was… come back to racing or just be done. And I didn’t feel like last year was a nice way to end what I’m doing.
“I wanted to come back and really have a clean slate. They’re still super fast guys and I’m sure they’ll find other opportunities. But it’s not an easy thing, that’s for sure.”
The new No. 98 Aston Martin trio scored a second-place finish at Silverstone, after Gunn and Dalla Lana put the car third on the 11-car class grid in qualifying.
Dalla Lana explained that he enjoyed his first weekend working with new co-drivers.
“Ross is a hungry young guy, just coming up through the ranks with Aston. He’s really keen and from what I’ve seen so far, he can lay it down when it really counts,” he said.
“I think it’s great. he’s hungry. Obviously having Darren there with the experience and the temperament there is also helpful. It’s a very different set of personalities but they’re nice guys, and I think Ross is going to surprise a few people.
“Everything is different, but it’s a good change.”
Gunn Relishing WEC Opportunity
Factory driver Gunn described his call-up to a full-season WEC seat with Aston Martin as a “big relief” having been contracted as a factory driver since 2016.
The 22-year-old won AMR’s junior academy contest four years ago and went on to race the previous iteration of the Vantage GTE in the European Le Mans Series, but hadn’t competed in WEC beyond a 24 Hours of Le Mans cameo with the Beechdean customer squad in 2017.
“I’ve wanted to race in the championship for many years, since I first started in GT cars. Hopefully, I’ll be there for a long time,” Gunn told Sportscar365.
“I know all the guys very well which makes it easier to fit in. I’m very comfortable and now I feel like I’m ready, but now it’s time to deliver on the track.
“Paul’s really cool to work with. He’s very self-critical and very competitive, but I think that’s very important for self-improvement. He’s already proved over the years that he’s a successful Am driver so hopefully we’ll have a good season together.”