Aston Martin Racing team principal Paul Howarth said he’s “open to anything” on possible driver lineup changes to its pair of factory GTE-Pro cars post-Le Mans, although stressed the focus on delivering back-to-back FIA World Endurance Championship titles.
The British manufacturer has opted for three-driver lineup for the first three rounds, with Richie Stanaway joining reigning GTE World Champions Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage V8 and Dunlop development driver Daniel Serra completing the lineup in the No. 97 car alongside Darren Turner and Jonny Adam.
Howarth said they haven’t yet determined whether it will remain with three drivers post-Le Mans or scale back to a two-driver approach per car, as was the case in recent years in GTE-Pro.
“Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans are massive events,” Howarth told Sportscar365. “We’ve got new regulations in [GTE]-Pro with the tire usage and everything.
“Within the team, the ‘Dane Train’ are phenomenally strong; Darren and Jonny are [also] phenomenally strong.
“We’re keeping everything open until the day you’ve got to nominate the drivers! The drivers have to be confident.”
The team had a significant shakeup in its lineup following Le Mans last year, with Darren Turner, who started the season in the No. 95 “Dane Train” entry, moved to the No. 97 car and both Adam and Fernando Rees being dropped from the full-season lineup.
Adam, however, returned for the season finale in Bahrain, replacing Stanaway in the No. 97 car, and was announced again with Turner for 2017.
“I’m open to anything,” Howarth said. “It’s a mind game as well. With three races away, it’s far too early to say what happens on the chess board.
“We are committed to all of our drivers to deliver results as well.”
Howarth said this year’s championship fight in GTE-Pro will be stronger than ever, with AMR having a target on its backs after winning the drivers’ and teams’ titles in 2016.
“The championship is going to be about execution and that’s where the pressure comes,” he said.
“We do not underestimate the other teams. We’re in the middle of a new car development, a transition period and trying to repeat championships.
“But I do not underestimate how hard it’s going to be to beat Porsche, Ferrari and Ford.”