Last week AF Racing AG, the company that includes Blancpain Endurance Cup race-winning team R-Motorsport, announced a significant ‘innovation partnership’ with HWA AG, Mercedes’ DTM partner. It’s a move that’s been made to strengthen both sides and create a sustainable business involved in both the automotive sector and in motorsport.
But there are still many question marks about this venture. The partnership should result in real growth from AF Racing’s side. The Swiss company, owned and run by Dr Florian Kamelger and Andreas Baenziger, has made huge strides in a short space of time.
Its Aston Martin St Gallen-affiliated R-Motorsport team has evolved in just a few years from a small outfit racing at the Nürburgring 24 Hours with GT4 Aston Martins to a fully Pro race-winning Blancpain outfit that has a hand in Aston Martin’s Valkyrie project.
And in a similar vein, the partnership with HWA has gone from a possibility to a reality in a very short time frame, as Kamelger told RACER.
“It has moved forward very quickly, over the last few weeks,” he said. “It responds to our strategy moving forward, which is to have access to small series production and race car production facilities.
“We will work over the next weeks and months to set it up operationally [in Germany]. That’s going to be quite an effort, but as entrepreneurs we don’t wait for two, three, five years. We count in days and weeks and months.”
In motorsport, what is the goal? While many observers have been quick to assume that AF Racing will head to DTM or the WEC’s top class with Aston Martin, that’s not necessarily the case.
Aston Martin has told RACER that while it is evaluating multiple options for its future in motorsport, no decisions have yet been made beyond its known factory commitments in the WEC in GTE and its customer program in GT3 and GT4.
While there are ties between AF Racing (R-Motorsport) and Aston Martin through the St Gallen dealership, and AF Racing’s role in the Aston Martin Valkyrie project, the expansion of AF Racing through its HWA tie-up will not necessarily include the British manufacturer.
Kamelger was also keen to point out that this is the case, and that make it clear that there is no program that will lead to a factory Aston Martin team racing in the WEC or DTM.
“As far as WEC is concerned with Aston Martin and a factory program, you would have to ask them about that – that is not for me to comment upon,” he said.
“Regarding a possible GTP program, I have never made a mystery of the fact that I would love to see R-Motorsport running at Le Mans. I have said this from the first instant that we put R-Motorsport onto the radar. Le Mans is, to many of us, and to me as well, the biggest race in the world.
“But obviously a lot of goals have to be achieved before you can talk about definitely entering Le Mans. It has to do with all of the regulation changes going on at the moment. Nothing is concrete yet from the officials there, so for now, this is a potential wish for the future.
“On DTM, we are a young, fast-growing racing team and we are always looking at the possible directions for the team. I always say that DTM is, for me, is one of the greatest series; DTM is pure racing.
“There have been rumors around for some weeks after an interview that Dr [Helmut] Marko gave. In amongst a wide range of series and championships we are looking at, DTM is included in that process, but there is nothing concrete there.
“The joint venture with HWA is not meant to be a vehicle to go into DTM for us, the joint venture with HWA is meant to be, and will be, an ‘innovation partnership’ in different aspects. DTM could be a potential outcome of that, but nothing concrete has been decided.”
Racing in the proposed GTP formula, which the ACO revealed back in June at Le Mans, is something Kamelgar feels fits AF Racing’s aspiration’s going forward, though.
“Yes, it has potential for R-Motorsport,” he said. “If the GTP regulations come along as the speculation at the moment state them to be then it could be a real possibility for us.”