Aston Martin Racing and partner team Young Driver AMR entered a pair of V12 Vantage GT3 racecars into the world’s most grueling endurance race. Having competed in the 24-hour race every year since 2006, this was the company’s first entry into the SP9 category for GT3 cars.
The two Vantage GT3s were crewed by Stefan Mücke (D), Tomas Enge (CZ), Fredy Barth (CH) and Oliver Mathai (D) in the #006 car, with Darren Turner (GB), Dennis Rostek (D) and Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck (sons of triple Nürburgring 24 winner Hans-Joachim Stuck) in the #007 car.
Running in matching blue and black liveries, the GT3s qualified in 17th and 16th positions, respectively among a grid of 170 cars.
After the race began, both cars suffered setbacks on their fourth lap of the 25km circuit; #006 developed a clutch issue which cost 15 laps, while #007 was stranded on circuit following a tire blow-out. Fortunately, the technicians were able to take a wheel and tire to the car, which was back running within 13 laps.
Both cars ran largely fault-free after that, the only minor problems included a front splitter working loose.
Having covered close to 5000km between them over the course of 20 hours, the team took the decision to rest both cars until the final lap of the race.
In addition to the pair of V12 Vantage GT3s, Aston Martin fielded a V12 Zagato and a Vantage GT4 in the SP8 category, run by the engineering department that had entered the race every year since 2006 with a 100% finishing record.
The #005 V12 Zagato – running the same livery as the GT3s – was driven by Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez (D), chief engineer Chris Porritt (GB), Nürburgring Test Centre Director Wolfgang Schuhbauer (D) and journalist Richard Meaden (GB). Aston Martin’s fourth entry, the orange #85 Vantage GT4, was driven by Mal Rose (AUS), Robert Thomson (AUS), Jürgen Stumpf (D) and Peter Cate (GB).
Having won the SP8 class twice since 2006, Aston Martin was hopeful of a strong showing. The qualifying bolstered hopes when the #005 car set the third fastest time in class and #85 was second.
A remarkable 24 hours would follow where neither car suffered significant problems despite the punishing Nordschleife circuit. None of the eight amateur drivers made any errors, despite the persistent rain that arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Having lapped the circuit 137 times, #005 V12 Zagato finished a strong second in class and 26th overall, while the #85 Vantage GT4 completed 135 laps to finish third in class behind the Zagato, and 33rd overall.
Aston Martin’s third podium came courtesy of customer outfit, Team Mathol Racing. Winner of the SP10 class in 2010, the team was on course to repeat its success until an accident around the mid-way point. The team’s technicians were able to repair the bodywork, enabling the Vantage GT4 to rejoin and eventually battle to second in class.