For the seventh successive year, Aston Martin will compete in the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hours (19/20 May) as a total of eight Vantage racers gear up for the endurance epic. The marque will field its most ambitious entry to date with four official Aston Martins – including a pair of V12-powered Vantage GT3s – supported by a further four customer cars.
In excess of 170 cars will start the fearsome 24-hour race, which runs on the daunting 25km circuit that combines the legendary Nordschleife with the modern Grand Prix track. Having focused its efforts in previous years on near production-specification cars since its 2006 Nürburgring 24 Hour debut, Aston Martin will, for the first time, be represented in the senior SP9 category for FIA-homologated GT3 cars. The pair of V12 Vantage GT3s will be run in association with long-standing official partner team, Young Driver AMR.
The lead Vantage GT3, carrying the iconic #007 designation, will be driven by Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck (A) – sons of triple Nürburgring 24 Hour winner Hans-Joachim Stuck – alongside Dennis Rostek (D) and Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner (GB). Turner’s regular works team-mate, Stefan Mücke, will drive the #006 car with Tomas Enge (CZ), Fredy Barth (CH) and Oliver Mathai (D).
In addition, Aston Martin’s engineering department will return with the spectacular V12 Zagato concept car that made its Nürburgring 24 Hour debut in 2011. Targeting another successful race finish will be Aston Martin Chief Executive Dr Ulrich Bez (D), Chief Engineer Chris Porritt (GB), Aston Martin Nürburgring Test Centre Director Wolfgang Schuhbauer (D) and renowned motoring journalist and racer Richard Meaden (GB).
Ahead of the race, Dr Bez said: “Our 100 per cent finishing record in thirteen starts in one of the world’s toughest endurance races is remarkable; truly a testament to the reliability of our cars and the efforts of our people. In the past six years we have deliberately focused on racing close-to-production cars, achieving seven class podiums and three class wins. For 2012, I am delighted to be returning again to drive our V12 Zagato with my engineering team, but also to have such an exciting step up with the V12 Vantage GT3s.”
The fourth official entry will be a V8-powered Vantage run by Aston Martin’s Nürburgring Test Centre team and driven by Jurgen Stumpf (D), Australians Mal Rose and Rob Thomson, and Peter Cate (GB). Aston Martin will be represented by four further customer outfits, including Team Mathol Racing, winners of the SP10 class for GT4 cars in 2010.
David King, Aston Martin’s Head of Motorsport, said: “The Nürburgring 24 Hour race is the most important 24-hour race in the world for GT cars. The quality of the entry in the GT3 class and throughout the field is truly impressive. It is a hugely important step for us to be challenging in the SP9 class, with a top class partner team and a fine driver line up. The V12 Vantage GT3 has a direct line to our V12 Vantage road car, sharing the same chassis and base engine, and I know all the fans will love to see and hear these cars hopefully running near the front of the pack.”
John Gaw, Aston Martin Racing Team Principal, added: “2012 is a development season for the new V12 Vantage GT3 and the Young Driver AMR team are being closely supported by Aston Martin Racing to tune the car to the unique demands of the Nordschleife. We see this as the first step in a longer term plan to challenge for race victory at the Nürburgring in future years, but we are already greatly encouraged by the performance of the car in recent four hour VLN races here.”
Young Driver AMR Team Principal, Hardy Fischer, concluded: “It is an honour and also a big challenge for my team to be representing Aston Martin at this great event; it is something we have wanted to do for a long time. The racing and working conditions are unique – for the cars, the drivers and the team – it takes some getting used to, but we are ready for the challenge.”