29 November, Bahrain - Aston Martin Racing has qualified for the final round of the 2013 World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Bahrain, in pole position and third in the GTE Am class and third and fifth in the GTE Pro class with its four V8 Vantage GTEs.
The team, which goes into the final round as leaders of the LMGTE Manufacturers’ World Cup, needs to score maximum points in tomorrow’s race in order to emerge as world champion. Points from the top two finishing GTE cars from each manufacturer count towards the championship and, with Ferrari just 17.5 points behind and Porsche just 33 points adrift, the challenge is on for the Banbury-based team.
"That was a fairly frustrating session but ultimately a good qualifying position," comments #97 driver Darren Turner (GB). "The first lap was okay but on the second I was near a GTE AM car so backed off to find space. I went for another fast lap only to be blocked by a Porsche on the in lap so had to abort. Towards the end of the session it was tight on time but I managed to go for a fourth lap and did enough to put us in third. It wasn't the best lap because of tyre wear but ultimately we did enough."
Turner and team-mate Stefan Mücke (DE) are hoping to score enough points to take home the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Pro Teams and World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers trophies.
“We are here with an aim of winning the championship, but when it comes to what we do in the race we can't do more than we've been doing all season," comments Mücke. "We will try to have a clean race but we expect it to be tough - it will be similar to São Paulo in difficulty. It's important that we make no mistakes and do what we always do to put ourselves in the best possible position to win the championship."
In the GTE Am class, #95 Vantage GTE finished in first place, meaning Aston Martin Racing has qualified in pole position for seven of the eight WEC rounds, with the #95 car clinching six of them.
Nicki Thiim (DN) and Christoffer Nygaard (DN) completed the 25-minute session and recorded an average time of 2:00.303. Fellow Dane, Kristian Poulsen, will join them in the #95 in the race.
“The car was really good today, the best we had all year,” comments Nygaard. “We struggled a bit in free practice but in qualifying it just all came together. We’re all looking forward to the race and we’re hoping to convert this pole into a win. We’ve not had a great year until now, so it would be nice to end on a high.”
The #96 Vantage GTE driven in qualifying by Jamie Campbell-Walter (GB) and Stuart Hall (GB) will start the six-hour race from third on the grid after losing out on second place by 0.09 seconds with less than a minute of the session left to go. Team-mate Roald Goethe (DE) will join the British pair for tomorrow’s race.
The second GTE PRO car, the #99 Vantage GTE of Bruno Senna (BR), Pedro Lamy (PT) and Richie Stanaway (NZ) struggled with traffic and was unable to record times fast enough to get higher than fifth position.
“It’s great to be on pole position with the #95 car and #96 had a strong qualifying too,” comments Team Principal John Gaw. “In GTE Pro, the drivers had difficulty getting clear laps to run their best times but being ahead of our closest contenders for tomorrow was quite critical and we achieved that. From free practice it looks like the Vantage GTE is strong on longer runs so that should really help us in the race. Of course we will need to be at our best in all areas to be at the top come the end of the race tomorrow and we are looking forward to that challenge.”
The FIA WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain starts at 1500hrs local time. Follow the team’s progress at www.astonmartin.com/racing on Facebook www.facebook.com/astonmartinracing and on Twitter using @amr_official