Aston Martin plans to return to the Nürburgring 24 Hours with a factory-backed GT3 program in 2020, after the British manufacturer shelved its initial intentions for a works entry this year.
Aston Martin Racing president David King told Sportscar365 that the decision not to run a factory car in next month’s Nordschleife enduro was taken because AMR needs time to concentrate on its customer support network.
The new Vantage made its debut in the VLN series last October and recently started its first year of competition with multiple GT3 teams worldwide.
“We are in the very early days of the new Vantage GT3 and GT4 programs,” said King.
“We’ve appointed several important new customer teams. We’ve got our strongest-ever representation in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup, a top team now in Japan, we’re back in ADAC GT Masters in Germany, and we’ve got to focus on supporting those customer cars and parts.
“We have delivered a lot of new GT3s and GT4s and we’ve only just homologated the car. We’re just making sure every customer’s got the cars on time, the right spares and the right technical support.
“It’s just a little bit too soon to go with a major factory GT3 effort because that would distract from our ability to support those customer teams.
“On the one hand, we’re not building the momentum that we had last year with the factory-entered car, but on the other we’re absolutely determined to win the race in the next two or three years.
“We’ve already had the GT3 car last year in the VLN and we’ll hopefully be back there later this year to build a program for next year.”
King said that Aston is aspiring to achieve double-figure representation on the Nürburgring 24 grid with works and customer cars, as the marque searches for its first victory.
“You see how seriously the German manufacturers have taken it in recent years through official partner teams and customer teams,” he said.
“They’ve tried so hard to win the race, throwing cars at it. We’ve been there – little old Aston Martin waving the Union Flag and chipping away at it and keeping a presence.
“When you look at the number of Porsches in the race, there are 40 or 50. So there should be 10, 15 or 20 Astons there as well. There’s no reason why that vision couldn’t come true with the right level of customer support.
“Fans like that and it internationalizes the race. We’ll come again with the GT3 next year for sure.”
King explained that Aston aims to run the new Vantage in select VLN races later this year with a view to persuading customers to run a full-season in 2020.
“We’re not going to take a factory car and run a full season of VLN because that’s not the spirit of it, but doing enough VLNs to get the car a fair BoP, get it developed and working, and might lead the way for some customer teams,” he said.
“I’d love to think that one of our new partner teams, or maybe a new one for next year, will come on board and run a full VLN campaign. I know ProSport is keen, as are R-Motorsport who are keeping an eye on it.”
With no GT3 entry confirmed this year, Aston Martin has switched its Nürburgring 24 focus to the debut of the new Vantage GT4, which will operate as a two-car entry.
Factory drivers Ross Gunn and Darren Turner, as well as recently-announced works junior Jamie Chadwick, are involved in the SP8T-class lineup.
The two Aston Martin Vantage GT4s will appear in this weekend’s six-hour Nurburgring 24 qualifying race, which features 101 teams on the entry list.
“It’s nice to have a bit of clear air to go back to our roots at the Nürburgring, where we debuted the original Vantage N24 that became the GT4 back in 2006,” said King.
“We can do the same thing with the new car. There is a bit more capacity to do that.
“The two GT4s that are entered are effectively factory cars. They’ll be run by my team at the performance centre at the Nürburgring with some AMR guys embedded in the team and a couple of works drivers.
“It’s going to be fun. We’re looking forward to it.”