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Aston Martin heads to the ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nürburgring (N24) in Germany this weekend (18-20 May) with three very different race cars – an international championship-winning V12 Vantage GT3, a record-breaking Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S and a close-to-production specification V12 Vantage.
Aston Martin has a long-standing relationship with the world-famous Nordschleife; its race cars won the Nürburgring 1,000 km race in 1957, ’58 and ’59 and the British sports car maker has been a regular at the annual 24-hour endurance race since 2006.
This year, the British manufacturer has ambitious plans to celebrate its centenary in front of more than 200,000 race fans at the N24 by entering a front-running GT3 car crewed by top professional drivers; a world-first engineering technology project; and a near-standard V12 Vantage that truly underlines the durability and performance of its road-going cars.
The build-up to the race start will be further enhanced by a stunning 100-car parade of Aston Martins around the length of the legendary 22km-long Nordschleife circuit.
Alongside the Bilstein V12 Vantage GT3, which marks Aston Martin’s most focused attempt yet to challenge for honours at N24, and its close-to-production V12 Vantage sister car, the company has entered its unique Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S. Announced earlier this year, and after a shakedown on the Nordschleife at a VLN endurance race in April, the ground-breaking race car – based on Aston Martin’s new four-door, four-seat sports GT – is returning to the Nürburgring to become the first Hybrid Hydrogen-powered car to compete in an international racing event.
Working in partnership with hydrogen experts Alset Global, Aston Martin’s engineers have developed the prototype, which will complete its qualifying lap on pure hydrogen, meaning that virtually the only emission from the twin turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 engine’s exhaust pipes will be water.
Aston Martin CEO Dr Ulrich Bez, will be one of four drivers behind the wheel of the Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S in the 24-hour race. He said: “The prospect of making history at the Nürburgring 24 Hours with the Hybrid Hydrogen Rapide S in this, our centenary year, is a great thing for Aston Martin.
“Alongside our partners Alset Global, we have worked incredibly hard to prove out this exciting engineering and I’m looking forward to taking the wheel of the race car at the Nürburgring on Sunday.”
The third car in the line up is a V12 Vantage in close-to-production specification, modified to satisfy the N24 regulations. David King, Director of Special Projects and Motorsport at Aston Martin, explains: “It’s important to us that we don’t only show what we can do with pioneering technologies and race car development, but that we showcase the ability that our road cars have to deal with the demanding and gruelling challenges that the Nordschleife can create.”
Leading up to the main event the Aston Martin Centenary Parade – a lap of the Nordschleife with 100 VIP and customer cars – will take place to celebrate 100 years of Aston Martin and to offer customers the chance to share in the Nürburgring experience that is so close to the brand.
Aston Martin will compete in the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hours on May 19-20 for the eighth successive year with the goal of maintaining its 100% finishing record. More than 200 cars will start the 24-hour race, which runs on the daunting 22 km circuit that combines the legendary Nordschleife with the modern Grand Prix track.