Nicki Thiim says it is a “great honor” to take on an increased role with Aston Martin this season which will include him fronting the manufacturer’s new Pro entry in the Blancpain GT Series.
“I’ve only done one Blancpain GT race so far and that was the Spa 24 Hours, which was probably one of the most enjoyable races I’ve had,” Thiim told Sportscar365.
“It’s more of a contact sport than you’d see in WEC, even though it is getting tougher there and closer. GT3 has always been known for its really close competition by all the brands.”
A two-car entry under the R-Motorsport banner and run by Arden Motorsport is the beginning of an increased commitment to the series from the British manufacturer after just a single car in the Pro-Am category represented it last season.
Porsche is in a similar situation, having announced an all-pro lineup after also only competing in the Pro-Am Cup in 2017. As a result, this year’s Blancpain GT Series could be one of the most competitive yet.
“It shows that the teams and Aston Martin have really approached it well,” Thiim said. It’s the first time they’ve really entered Blancpain GT in the proper way in the Pro category.
“It shows that they’re really out to do it and that’s a great thing. It has been a growing competition in Blancpain GT. I know they’ve been struggling with turning away some people because there are so many that want to do it.
“To represent Aston Martin, and because they asked me to be one of the front guys to do it for them, is a great honor. That they want me to drive so much this year shows I must be doing a good job!”
Racing the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 more often will come as a slight change of pace for the 28-year-old who has focused on GTE competition in recent years, both in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series.
“I’ve had some races in it and it’s quite the same, even though the new car in WEC is going to be a completely different story,” he said.
“It was a bit easier with the older GTE car where it was almost only the engine that was different, but it’s a car with four wheels and I should have the experience to adapt to it hopefully quite easily. That’s the most important thing.”
New Vantage GTE a “Completely Different Car”
While not entirely confirmed so far, it is expected that Thiim will also be back in the WEC for the upcoming ‘Super Season’ in which AMR will debut its brand-new Vantage GTE.
After getting a great deal of testing under his belt, Thiim has praised the new car, with its tire management one of the biggest improvements.
“It’s a completely different car,” he said. “The old one was an old lady, I’d say, and this is just a completely different build-up, starting from the engine.
“The whole chassis, the weight balance, and all that stuff, is completely different with this car. It’s fitted towards the new regulations.
“What we struggled with last year was the downforce and that’s something that Aston has worked a lot on this year, to get closer to Ford, Ferrari, Porsche and probably BMW.
“We were struggling a lot, especially last year, double stinting tires because our car was not so keen on the tires with the low downforce. That’s something they want to change for the future.”