RACER headed to Banbury, in the heart of the UK’s “motorsport valley,” to get a first look at the 2018 Aston Martin Vantage GTE ahead of its full public on-track debut at Paul Ricard next month in the FIA WEC Prologue test.
Located a stone’s throw away from Haas F1’s headquarters, next to the site formerly occupied by Manor’s F1 team, is Prodrive, which has run Aston Martin’s factory and customer racing operation since 2004.
It’s a sizable facility, capable of servicing multiple cars at a time, as well as building cars up from the bare chassis. Inside, there’s a huge workspace for Prodrive’s engineers, overlooked by a selection of former Prodrive machinery, including multiple rally cars –headlined by a Metro 6R4 and works Subaru Impreza – an ex-BAR Honda F1 chassis, and even one of the old BTCC Super Touring Rapid-Fit Ford Mondeos.
There were plenty of Aston Martins on show, too, including a show car in 2017 FIA WEC colors next to a brand-new Vantage road car in the foyer, a trio of full old-gen Vantages GTEs in prep and a smattering of current Vantage GT3s being serviced for customer teams ahead of the season.
But the stars of the show were the three brand-new 2018 Vantage GTEs. RACER got up close to the No. 95 – which is Chassis #1, AMR’s test mule – and was able to peer inside to see how well packaged the cockpit is, as well as get a better look at some of the finer details of the car’s sleek, yet aggressive, design.
The other two chassis were not built up. The second chassis, liveried as No. 97, was being rebuilt following a recent test at Motorland Aragon, and the third was in the bowels of the shop, still just a bare chassis fresh of the production line at Aston Martin’s road car base in Gaydon, ready to be molded into an FIA WEC challenger, its roll cage the only hint that it’s not destined for road use.
The only area RACER was unable to visit, was in the right-hand corner of the workshop, which was purposely hidden behind tall black walls, available for authorized personnel only. Just what was being worked on remains a mystery, though I’m sure we’ll find out soon…
Click on the thumbnails below for more images of the Aston Martin Racing factory tour.