DR: There are a fewiconic color schemes one associates with motorsport, but few will disagree that the Gulf colors, and especially their association with LeMans, are one of those that come to mind.I'm sure people will look back on the association of Aston Martin and Gulf as being one of the iconic images of 2009.
EC: GT1 is virtually non-existent except for Corvette, and fans all over the world miss the past battles between AM and GM. By running in the smaller categories such as GT2, GT3, and so on, doesn't this give the perception of not being able to run up front?
DR: It's easy to forget that Aston Martin is represented in all GT classes--GT1, 2, 3 and 4--unlike any other car manufacturer.We have chosen this year to focus our attention on the LMP1 program and leave GT2 participation to our customers.We have also been concentratinga lot of our development time on the new GT2 category, which is likely to be the dominant GT formula in the future.
EC: I want to mention Formula One. Aston Martin, unlike Jaguar, actually had an F1 car. From a branding point, many felt that Ford should have gone with AM instead of Jaguar; would you consider a possible AM-badged Prodrive effort?
DR: Our immediate priority for Aston Martin is, of course, the 24 hours of Le Mans, but there is no getting away from the fact that Formula One does dominate the world stage as far as motor racing is concerned.If the cost of participation were to reduce to an affordable level, then it is clearly something that neither Aston Martin nor Prodrive could ignore.
George Howard Chappell: A commitment to concentration
Aside from being a team principal, George Howard Chappell is the hugely creative technical director to which Aston Martin Racing owes a great deal of its success. GHC is always in motion.
EC: Given the longevity of your involvement, what makes for a successful racing team?
GHC: An intelligent, experienced, highly skilled group that is able to operate as a team, through the good and bad, and as a team we have experienced both. The win at Le Mans in 2007 was sweet after the bad luck of the two previous attempts.
EC: So much of motorsport is logistics and support, from processing data to gauging the weather. How will the LMP1 effort differ from the GT1 DBR9 with regards to preparation? Running up front with Audi and Peugeot has to be a major change.
GHC: The major difference is the technicallevel of the car. We already operated as a very professional team in GT1. Ofcourse, ultimately the level at which a team operates is hugely influenced by the available budget.
EC: It's one thing being a manufacturer with a huge budget, something else for a smaller firm. How difficult is it to maintain such a high standard?
GHC: Yes, it's always a challenge, but we have a very high standard at Aston Martin Racing and Prodrive and we maintain this standard through all our projects.You have to if you want to succeed.
EC: Has the increase in technology helped or hindered the basic premise of motorsport overall?Would you support a more simplified version for GT--is that the idea behind the GT4 Vantage as opposed to a DBR9?
GHC: In the case of Formula One I believe it is a little out of control.Simplification is a good thing depending on the budget and the level of competition. However, the technology should not be dumbed down to a level where manufacturers cannot use motorsport to showcase new technologies and demonstrate their effectiveness.
EC: Will you try to pace your drivers for Le Mans or will you give Tomas Enge the green light to go after the diesels? I can hear the laughter from Enge now.
GHC: We will run the race in our normal manner. We'll race hard but at a pace we believe we can maintain; to keep a car at ten-tenthsis difficult over 24 hours. It's almost like running a full season as a single race. To win Le Mans is a great achievement.