Aston Martin Racing decided to run only one of its GTE-Pro class cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue because its second Vantage GTE is currently in-build.
The previous Vantage chassis was written off during the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month, after an accident for Marco Sorensen at the wheel of the No. 95 car.
The construction of a replacement tub led Aston to only bring its No. 97 car to this week’s pre-season test at Catalunya, with all four of its GTE-Pro drivers sharing the wheel.
“We’re building a new car for the crashed car at Le Mans. We’re not rushing it,” AMR team principal Paul Howarth told Sportscar365.
“We don’t want to rush a car through a new build when we’ve got the start of the championship here [at the Prologue].
“We’ve got to promote the championship and we’re very close to the WEC to do that. We’ve got a car in build, so we’ll have that car ready [for Silverstone].”
Howarth added that the production and delivery of two new customer Vantage GTE chassis for Paul Dalla Lana and TF Sport, along with the ongoing Vantage GT3 and GT4 supply program, contributed to the delay in getting the replacement Pro car out.
“We’re a big team but we have a budget. We’ve delivered two new cars to Am so we’ve stretched ourselves to keep supporting everybody,” he said.
“Some people just need a bit of time off as well. You’ve got to because performance is directly linked to that.
“We’ve got to be careful because when it starts in September, it’s a big push right into Christmas. It’s been relentless up until now; we did a lot of testing at the start of the year.
“That was busy right up to Le Mans, which was a strain on everyone, and then we had less than four weeks until the Prologue.”
Aston Martin hasn’t made any drastic changes to its GTE-Pro car since its 2018-19 WEC debut season, besides marginal reliability improvements.
However, the British manufacturer has moved to a new compound of Michelin tire for its second season back with the French supplier.
“We went back to Michelin, a new manufacturer, and also a new car [after spending 2016 and 2017 with Dunlop],” he said.
“We’ve worked a lot since then, so we’ve gone through the process of nominating a new tire. We started testing over a year ago. I think we’re very comfortable with the choice; it was very meticulously done.
“The biggest thing is having a package that can do a stint consistently and maintain pace with the lead cars.
“The racing is so close now that you always have to think of something to win the race. We understand the car more, but the opposition are getting stronger now as we are.”
Competition “Harder” Despite Ford, BMW Exits
Howarth suggested that the level of competition in the GTE-Pro class has not been compromised since the double departure of the Ford and BMW factory programs.
When asked if the same level of competition has been preserved in the three-constructor field of Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche, he said, “100 percent”.
“In some way, it’s harder, because when there are fewer manufacturers it creates a different focus.
“Everyone watches what you do, and we watch everybody else. There are some very creative people in the sport, and they can find a way to give a little bit of an edge.
“But also in Am, we dominated for many years but now everyone else has lifted the bar. Winning there is now like winning in Pro.”