Austin, 20 September 2014 - Aston Martin Racing has won both the GTE Pro and GTE Am classes of the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Six Hours of Austin, in a dramatic race that saw the drivers and team deal with torrential rain and hours of darkness.
The #97 V8 Vantage GTE driven by Stefan Mücke (DE) and Darren Turner (GB) started the race from second in the GTE Pro class at 1700hrs local time today (20 September). Mücke was first in the car and quickly took the class lead in the first lap.
After an hour, the car pitted and Turner took over to continue the charge. It was, however, a charge cut short when torrential rain came unexpectedly, causing many of the 29 LMP and GT cars to take a spin. Despite being on slicks, Turner and his fellow Aston Martin Racing team-mates safely navigated the 6km-long circuit and, when the red flag was waved, the #97 was returned to the start line as instructed by race control.
At the restart, Turner continued to lead but he and Mücke went on to spend the next four hours locked in an intense battle with the #92 Porsche and #51 Ferrari, finally crossing the line and taking the win.
“We have had a difficult season so far,” commented Turner. “Le Mans was a bitter disappointment for us, so this is great for the team and nice way for Stefan and I to lever what we can out of the championship.”
In the GTE Am class, the #98 Vantage GTE had a difficult qualifying session and started the six-hour race from eighth. However, Pedro Lamy (PT) quickly set to work climbing through the pack and was soon within the top three. Together with Paul Dalla Lana (CA) and Christoffer Nygaard (DN), he tirelessly pressed on and they crossed the line in first place.
Dalla Lana, who celebrates his first WEC race win, said: “What a fantastic feeling to take my first WEC victory. It really is a victory for the team who didn't miss a beat.”
“The race will always be special to me too,” added Lamy. “Not only is it my first WEC victory with Aston Martin Racing but it was exciting from start to finish.”
The #95 Young Driver Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE finished in second place but will leave tonight wondering what could have been. Richie Stanaway (NZ), who set the fastest GTE lap of the race, started from second place and, despite losing a few places on the opening lap, was quick to climb back up to take the lead. But, when the red flag waved, the #95 – now with David Heinemeier Hansson behind the wheel - was already in the pits and, in line with the FIA WEC regulations, it then rejoined the race a lap down.
Now with the huge challenge ahead, Heinemeier Hansson, Stanaway and Kristian Poulsen (DN) set to work catching the front-runners, over-taking several cars and crossing the line in second place. The result extends the #95 Vantage GTE’s lead at the front of the GTE AM drivers and team trophies.
Also caught out in the pit stop during the red flag, the #99 Craft-Bamboo Racing car piloted by Fernando Rees (BR), Alex MacDowall (GB) and Darryl O’Young (HK) finished in sixth place.
“It’s great to take our first WEC race wins of the season,” commented Team Principal John Gaw. “It was another very closely fought battle at the front of the GTE Pro class. Strategy worked well for us with the #97 car and, despite refueling taking longer than our rivals, we managed to use our double stint tyre strategy to keep us at the front of the race. Yes, we leave here with three podium results, but this by no means suggests that the remainder of the season will be easy. That was a really tough race and we are expecting more of the same as we head to Asia, the Middle East and South America.”
The FIA World Endurance Championship now heads to Fuji International Speedway for the Six Hours of Fuji, which takes place on 12 October.