Maxime Martin says his only intention was to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a manufacturer, after three previous attempts with independent teams.
The 2016 Total 24 Hours of Spa winner, who has made the switch from BMW to Aston Martin for this year, will bid for GTE-Pro class honors at the French endurance classic next month.
Martin is readying for his manufacturer debut at Le Mans in a new-generation Aston Martin Vantage GTE with Alex Lynn and Jonny Adam, as part of a 17-car class field.
Having won at Spa and claimed second at the Nürburgring 24 with BMW in 2013, Martin said that Le Mans is the next major podium in his sights.
“I’ve done Le Mans three times and I really liked it, but I’ve always done it with private teams,” Martin told Sportscar365.
“I don’t want to do Le Mans just to say that I’ve done Le Mans. When you do Spa or Nürburgring, you’re always there to win and you always have a chance in GT3. In DTM, I was there to win too.
“Then to come to Le Mans just to participate, it makes no sense. If I came back, I wanted to be with a manufacturer in a place where I can win, and that’s what happened. So, for me, it’s a perfect match.”
Martin made the first of three Le Mans appearances in 2011, finishing seventh in an privateer Lola-Aston Martin B09/60 LMP1 entered jointly by Kronos Racing and Marc VDS.
That experience, in the shadow of the Audi and Peugeot works efforts, helped him gain a rapport with Aston Martin Racing and Prodrive, which would eventually lead to a future seat in the works program.
Martin’s next two Le Mans outings came in LMP2, first with OAK Racing in 2012 and then with Thiriet by TDS Racing the following year, before he joined BMW’s DTM program for four seasons.
“To come from where I was driving at that time in GT racing [with Marc VDS in FIA GT1] and coming to Le Mans in the Aston Martin Lola LMP1 was really a big step and a big challenge,” said Martin.
“I did Le Mans seven years ago with links to Aston Martin, and now I’m coming back seven years later in a factory car, so I’m really motivated to win. It’s the perfect timing to come back.
“I’ve always had chances to do other 24-hour races with BMW in good conditions with a really good chance of winning, so for me to come back to Le Mans – I wanted to come back, but I wanted to be in a position to win.
“That’s definitely possible this year with the new Aston Martin Vantage, I have my best chance. I’m pretty sure that we will have some great chances to win races including Le Mans.
“We have a strong package, strong lineups, and a really good team, so I’m pretty confident we have a chance to do something good by the end of the season.”
Martin “Very Happy” with Aston Martin Choice
Martin added that he has been suitably impressed with the Aston Martin Racing operation since joining last December after five years with BMW.
The 32-year-old’s reasoning for switching sides was to return to sports car competition full-time, in a decision fueled partly by the withdrawal of Mercedes from DTM at the end of 2018.
“It was a very difficult decision to leave BMW, but to join Aston Martin has been amazing,” said Martin.
“They have been putting a lot of effort into the racing, building the road car at the same time as the Vantage GTE to make the best out of both.
“I think Aston Martin is putting a lot of effort in the business market. Joining a team with so much history and racing – with the new project – I think it was the right moment.
“After five months I am very happy with my choice.”