Aston Martin has confirmed the withdrawal of its factory Vantage GT motorsport programme, and will instead ‘switch the strategic focus’ to customer operations from 2021 onwards. This marks the end of the British sports car maker’s run as a manufacturer team, which has contested the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) since the series’ inception in 2012.
The shift in focus towards its customer racing programme has seen Aston Martin renew its ties with long-time partner Prodrive in a ‘multi-year deal’, where the Banbury, UK-based motorsport preparation outfit will continue to manufacture and distribute the current-generation Vantage race cars.
Aston Martin has attained 47 class wins and 103 podiums from seven seasons over nine years of taking part in the WEC, as well as nine class championships and four wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its run of GT racing successes concluded at the 8 Hours of Bahrain in November, where the team won both the WEC GT Drivers’ and WEC Manufacturers’ championships with drivers Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim.
The marque has also seen successes with its customer racing teams, where outside the WEC calendar they have scored 62 wins and 157 podiums from 323 race starts across more than 20 racing series worldwide, says Aston Martin.
One in five race starts by the Vantage race car culminated in a win, while half resulted in a podium finish, and of those, 14% were from class pole position. In addition to its two WEC titles, the Aston Martin Vantage race car in its various forms has won 26 GT or endurance racing titles internationally.
“The Vantage proved it has world champion pedigree in 2020, and in its GTE variant is a 24-hour race winner. Now with the Vantage GT3 we wish to give our partners and customers the best opportunity possible to fight for victory against our closest rivals in the toughest endurance challenges GT racing has to offer,” said Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers.
The British marque’s factory racing efforts will be concentrated on Formula 1, which sees the Racing Point F1 team rebranded as Aston Martin for the 2021 season. Racing Point is owned by Aston Martin chairman Lawrence Stroll, whose son Lance Stroll will be driving for the team from next year alongside four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.
Aston Martin Racing in production-based sports car competition actually predates the World Endurance Championship, as the British racing outfit entered GT1-class racing in 2004 with the Prodrive-run DBR9 racer. This race car won the LMGT1 class in the Sebring 12 Hours in 2005, followed by a LMGT1 class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007.
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