Aston Martin Racing’s new Vantage GT3 set for the Gulf 12 Hours.
Three works drivers will join the partner teams in the Abu Dhabi event.
Aston Martin will be dragging three of its customer teams halfway around the globe to run the endurance race at the sparkling Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. This can easily be seen as Aston carrying on the fine tradition of factories supporting gentleman race drivers and semi-independent teams.
They could win, but they will most surely have fun.
A few years back, Abu Dhabi, as a nation, realized they were sitting on a small ocean of oil, which effectively means they were sitting on a small ocean of money. Thankfully (from a gearhead perspective) they decided to spread some of that cheese all over the desert floor in the form of a not-at-all-bad racing complex. At the time, the rumors were they dumped more than a billion dollars into the project, and boy, it sure looks like it. Yas Marina (the name of the place) looks like a race track from a sci-fi movie set 50 years in the future.
And, from what I gather, it’s a blast to drive.
Hence, F1 runs there, locals run there and, in the case of Aston Martin, we will see three Aston Martin Racing partner teams run the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 at the Gulf 12 Hours on December 15th.
The lead teams will be Oman Racing and TF Sport in the PRO class. A good choice since Oman Racing finished on the podium, third overall, at the same event in 2015. They also came in second in the PRO/AM class last year. The graph is running in the right direction. The Oman entry will be piloted by two Brits, the works drivers Darren Turner, a three-time Le Mans class winner and another team regular Jonny Adam. Joining them will be Omani racer Ahmad Al Harthy.
TF Sport, which has been campaigning an Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE in the FIA World Endurance Championship, also ran a V12 Vantage GT3 in the 2018 Blancpain Endurance Series as well as the British GT Championships. So no wet-behind-the-ears newbies here. TF will be running the new Vantage GT3 in the UK next year, so gaining experience at the Abu Dhabi enduro will be quite valuable.
Also in the PRO class will be up-and-comers R-Motorsport. They’ve already won once in the Blancpain Endurance Series with the V12 Vantage GT3, nabbing three consecutive pole positions in their debut season. R-Motorsport have been loyal and long-time campaigners of Aston Martin racing cars, so the factory gave them full backing for this race.
“We are really excited to run the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 on its debut outing outside Europe,” explained R-Motorsport Team Principal Florian Kamelger. “The challenging event in Abu Dhabi will give us the best opportunity to test the car in a long-distance race before we run it in 2019.”
R-Motorsport will have their regular drivers, Jake Dennis and Marvin Kirchhöfer, with a third yet to be confirmed. Just to mention: I can be contacted at: One Automoblog Towers, Detroit Michigan. Although I do not come cheap, I am available.
Aston Martin will also be represented in the PRO AM class by Beechdean AMR, running a Vantage GT3. This will be the race debut for Beechdean AMR. Although new, the team will be headed up in the driving department by two-time British GT and European Le Mans Series champion Andrew Howard (another Brit) and Humaid al Masaood from the United Arab Emirates.
The journeyman Chris Dyson from the good ol’ USA and British works driver Ross Gunn complete the lineup.
“Having been the first team to run the outgoing multiple race and championship winning Vantage, it is a real privilege to be part of a lineup with the first AM drivers to race the new Vantage GT3,” said Beechdean AMR Team Owner Andrew Howard. “We have been lucky enough to test the prototype and if that is anything to go by, then it will be as big a leap from the current car as the Vantage was from the glorious DBRS9.”
This will be the eighth running of the Gulf 12 Hours, which will be split into two six-hour races. It all takes place on December 15th. It will most definitely be worth checking out.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter:@TonyBorroz