Aston Martin Vantage Aims High FIA WEC and IMSA GTD series resume

BY Sean Loo

Aston Martin’s multiple championship-winning Vantage returns to action in the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) and the North American-based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with four

Reigning FIA WEC LMGTE Am class champion TF Sport and fellow Aston Martin Racing partner teams NorthWest AMR and D’station Racing contested the 6 Hours of Portimão event on Sunday with a trio of Aston Martin Vantage GTEs.

The Vantage GTE is the prototype version of the British-built race car derived from Aston Martin’s critically-acclaimed ultra-luxury sportscar and shares the same aluminium body frame and a specially-tuned version of the four-litre V8 turbo-charged production engine.

Aston Martin is aiming for its first podium at Portimão on its final visit to the Portuguese track before the class switches to GT3 machinery in 2024.

All three AMR teams displayed good form in the season-opening 1000 Miles of Sebring (USA) last month, with the #23 ORT by TF Vantage GTE driven by Omani driver Ahmad Al Harthy, Michael Dinan (USA) works star Charlie Eastwood (IRL) qualifying a highly-competitive third in class.

Paul Dalla Lana (CAN) and his NorthWest AMR team showed great race pace alongside FIA WEC GTE Pro world champion Nicki Thiim (DEN) and Axcil Jefferies (ZWE) while Japanese team D'station Racing’s owner Satoshi Hoshino (JPN) and regular co-driver Tomonobu Fujii (JPN) gelled quickly with rookie Casper Stevenson (GBR).

But, with misfortune preventing all three crews from capitalising on their potential, they are keen to kick-start their seasons on WEC’s return to Europe.

The 2023 FIA WEC season is now a packed 14-car field featuring tough competition, particularly as the LMGTE Am class now constitutes the only GT competition within the WEC. Moreover, the season is longer this year thanks to the addition of the Portimão event, which is swiftly followed by the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) race on 29 April.

The centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA) takes place on 10-11 June, followed by the 6 Hours of Monza (ITA) on 9 July, the 6 Hours of Fuji (JPN) on 10 September and the traditional 8-Hour finale taking place in Bahrain on 4 November.

Huw Tasker, AMR Head of Partner Racing, said: “While Sebring was tough on all our teams, the pace of Vantage - particularly in the IMSA race - was reassuring. Portimão is a more conventional venue and perhaps offers our WEC teams a more solid foundation upon which to build a strong weekend upon. On the other side of the Atlantic, Vantage has a proven pedigree around the streets of Long Beach. Everywhere we have been this season, the Heart of Racing team has shown why it is the reigning IMSA GTD champion and there is no reason to expect anything but more of the same from the first Sprint race of the season.”

Official practice for the 6 Hours of Portimão begins on Friday, 14 April, at 1030 CET, with the race beginning at noon on Sunday. Follow details of the event via the official WEC website and App. The Grand Prix Prix of Long Beach begins with free practice at 0900 PDT on Friday with the race starting at 1405 on Saturday.

For those interested, you may head on over to the IMSA website for details on how to follow the race.