Aston Martin Racing will make a comeback in 2012 and is currently preparing to enter the international GT motorsport in the FIA World Endurance Championship. A V8-powered Vantage will be entered at the GTE Pro category of the eight round series, which covers three continents. The team will field a second works Vantage GTE at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which is the third round of the championship.
The Vantage GTE is based on the Vantage GT2. It added major improvements to all areas, which include the engine, drivetrain and suspension. The new car, which comes with the iconic Gulf colors, is slated to make its racing debut at round one of the FIA World Endurance Championship, marking the 60th anniversary edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.
Its driver lineup consists of Darren Turner (GBR), Stefan Mücke (D) and Adrian Fernandez (MX). When asked about the project, Aston Martin Lagonda Chairman David Richards expressed his delight at going back to its core motorsport activity – its production-based GT racing. It is considered to be the basis for Aston Martin’s return to competition when the DBR9 GT1-racer had its launching in 2004. Aston Martin’s wins at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008 were in GT racing. Richards added that the GT category is currently the “most competitive class in world sports car racing.”
He added that with the new FIA World Endurance Championship, the GTE class will provide the “closest fought and most exciting spectacle.” He expects that there will be numerous premium sports car brands that will go up against racing cars based on their production models. He said that this is something that fans would be able to relate to. Aston Martin Racing will also be at the Long Beach round (on April 14) and Laguna Seca round (May 12) of the American Le Mans Series. The company is doing this to boost the competitive experience of the Vantage GTE before Le Mans.
In November 2011, Aston Martin Racing disclosed that it has commenced tests for its latest V12 Vantage GT3 at Brands Hatch in Kent. The tests covered nearly 1,000 kilometers in only two days. A great part of the mileage was piloted by factory driver Darren Turner, who said that the V12 Vantage GT3 represents "a massive step forward" over the DBRS9.
Turner remarked that the new Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 is "more responsive and feels more nimble," allowing it to raise the driver’s confidence to extract all the performance from the V12 engine. He added that the new V12 Vantage GT3 "isn’t too physical to drive" and that he didn't even "break into a sweat during the test!"