Aston Martin Racing has entered the works Vantage GTE in first two European LeMans Series rounds, marking the team’s first competitive appearance since its victory in the February 6 Hours of COTA and serving as preparation for the final three rounds of the World Endurance Championship season.
Paul Dalla Lana will drive the No. 98 machine with Austrian Mathias Lauda and AMR works driver Ross Gunn in the 4 Hours of Le Castellet on July 18-19, the ELMS series debut for the works Vantage GTE.
For the Aug. 8-9 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, ELMS Round 2, Gunn will make way for BMW works driver Augusto Farfus, long-time family friend of Dalla Lana’s, who will also be preparing for the WEC races ahead.
Dalla Lana, Farfus and Gunn will pilot the No. 98 car for the remainder of the FIA WEC GTE Am campaign — Spa, Aug. 15-16; the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Sept. 19-20; and Bahrain, Nov. 14-15.
Gunn and Dalla Lana currently lie third in the FIA standings, just 12.5 points behind the leaders.
Three-time Le Mans class winner Darren Turner, meanwhile, will step up his involvement in development of Aston Martin’s Valkyrie hypercar as testing ramps up prior to the advanced machine going on sale in 2021. The Briton’s focus will remain here through 2020, but he will be standing by to assist in the GTE and customer racing programs ahead of a full return next year.
“Like all of us, I’ve really missed competing on the track and getting the opportunity to put in extra competitive miles in the ELMS is really exciting,” said Dalla Lana. “I’ve been friends with Augusto [Farfus] for a long time, and we’ve wanted to race together for a while, but it’s only now that a break in his programme has allowed us to do this.
“The ELMS presents a tough challenge and the races are long enough to test our skills and our systems as we prepare to return to WEC. And as we look towards Le Mans and the world championship challenge, I think it gives a good chance to fight at the front. It’s going to be fun!”
“This is the longest break from active motorsport that we have ever had at Aston Martin Racing,” said AMR Managing Director John Gaw, “but we’ve used the time wisely to ensure we’re in the strongest possible position to resume the WEC season. The ELMS is a strong series where we have historically had good success with our partner teams – in fact, works driver Darren Turner won the series with Beechdean AMR back in 2016 – and it presents exactly the kind of challenge we want to refresh our systems ahead of our WEC return. Paul has chosen to recruit Augusto Farfus to race with him, and we look forward to welcoming him into the team.”