Sunday, February 01, 2009

Aston Martin to challenge for outright victory at 2009 Le Mans

Aston Martin has announced its intention to compete for outright victory at this year's Le Mans 24 hour race, due to be held over the weekend of 13-14 June.

The Warwickshire-based sportscar maker intends to build on its success in the GT1 class and achieve overall victory fifty years after the marque first secured the top step on the classic endurance race podium.

While Aston's efforts with its DBR9 racer have delivered class victory two years in a row, competing for the overall title against the proven speed and endurance of the diesel-powered cars such as the Audi R15 and Peugeot 908 is an ambitious goal.

But in 2009, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), which sets the rules for the race, is introducing new regulations aimed at balancing the performance of petrol and diesel engined cars, which Aston believe hands them an opportunity to climb the rankings.

The attempt to emulate the legendary achievements of Aston's 1959 DBR1 driven by Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori will be spearheaded by two Works LMP1 cars (pictured) wearing the iconic blue and orange livery of Gulf Oil.

The new car will be based on the 2008 Charouz Racing System Lola, which came a respectable 9th place in last year's race, the first six positions being occupied by the ground breaking diesel racers.

Also working on the car together with Aston Martin will be Lola, Michelin, Koni and BBS. Power will be provided by the same production-based V12 engine from the class-winning DBR9, which also last year powered the Charouz Lola to a new Le Mans lap record for a petrol car.

To ensure complete focus on the LMP1 challenge, Aston Martin will not defend its double GT1 title in 2009. However, the company will continue to support its official partner teams and customers competing at the race.

Aston Martin chairman, David Richards, whose consortium took over Aston Martin from Ford in 2007, said;

"2009 is a hugely significant year for Aston Martin at Le Mans and the challenge of reclaiming victory in this famous race for Aston Martin and Great Britain was simply too great to ignore."

"However, we do not underestimate the task," he said. "Nonetheless, I see this as a great opportunity to showcase the ingenuity of British engineering talent."