The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 will make a welcome return to the legendary Nürburging Nordschleife for Round 8 of the 2021 Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) this weekend as it competes at the German venue for the first time since the car made its formal competitive debut there three years ago.
A full-time entry in the NLS is a prerequisite for a competitive entry in the world famous Nürburging 24 Hours, and interest in both the Vantage GT3 as a potential NLS contender continues to swell with existing partners and new potential customers. Moreover, the Vantage GT3 is currently fighting for the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship GTD class title with the The Heart of Racing and last weekend clinched its first major title in Japan with D’station Racing. Meanwhile in the hands of Garage 59, the car came close to winning the Spa 24 Hours earlier this year, finishing third overall in the Belgian classic.
Aston Martin Racing has therefore decided to run a one-off works entry in the top SP9 class to demonstrate the car’s potential on the Nordschleife now that it has gained three years of development and seven championship titles under its belt. The race will also serve to assist the series organisers in formulating a Balance of Performance measurement for the car ahead of any potential NLS or Nürburgring 24 Hour entries in 2022.
The brand-new chassis, featuring a revised works livery especially for the race, will be driven by FIA GT World Champion Nicki Thiim (DEN) and 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Maxime Martin (BEL) who actually drove the Vantage GT3 alongside Darren Turner (GBR) to fourth overall on its debut in October 2018.
“I haven’t raced the latest Vantage GT3 on the Nürbrurging Nordschleife, so I’m very interested to see how it feels now that it has been developed and has proved itself a winner all over the world,” said Thiim. “It’s always an honour to race for Aston Martin, and I think everybody knows that I absolutely love the Nürburgring so we are going to go hard to prove the Vantage is a car that can be competitive in the NLS.”
Martin added: “It’s obviously improved a lot since we last raced the car there on its debut three years ago, and even then we knew it had enormous potential. I think it will be great fun to race alongside Nicki, and we will be working very hard to make the most of this opportunity. To be back racing on one of the greatest circuits of them all is always good. I can’t wait.”
Aston Martin GT cars have been an ever-present at the Nürburging since 2005, when Aston Martin Lagonda made its debut in the VLN and Nürburgring 24 Hours with an almost standard V8 Vantage that provided the springboard for the ultra-successful GT4 version. Since then, the marque has enjoyed many notable class successes including victory in the SP9T class in 2018, when Martin, Thiim, Turner and Marco Sörensen (DEN) finished fourth overall having led into the final hours under heavy rain in the last competitive outing for the V12 Vantage GT3. This result still stands as the marque’s best finish in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
In recent years focus has centred on developing the customer-focussed Vantage GT4, which won the SP8T class in 2019 with Jamie Chadwick (GBR), Alex Brundle (GBR) and Peter Cate (GBR). In 2020, AMR partner team Garage 59 finished third in the same class with an upgraded GT8R driven by Jonny Adam (GBR), Alexander West (SWE), Chris Goodwin (GBR) and Turner.
In 2021 Aston Martin’s honour has been upheld at the ’Ring by another partner team, the locally-based PROsport Racing squad which finished seventh in the SP10 class with their Vantage GT4.
Aston Martin Racing President David King added: “Despite our various successes at the Nürburgring, for one reason or another Aston Martin has never had a sustained presence in the top class of the NLS (formerly the VLN), or the Nürburging. The time is ripe for a change now that we have a world class GT3 contender in the Vantage. So we will be going there this weekend with the intent to show what the car is capable of to potential customers and partners, and of course to try and notch up another win for the Vantage GT3.”