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Aston Martin will return this year to the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete in the eight round series, kicking off with the 60th anniversary edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, on March 17.
The company confirmed today that it will enter an updated version of the Vantage GT2, calling it the Vantage GTE. That car will be based off the Vantage road car, getting the same bonded aluminum structure with and aerospace specification steel roll cage. All but the roof will be made from carbon fiber to shed weight. A 4.5-litre V8 with an aluminum block and will keep the street-legal Vantage’s double-wishbone suspension, but with purpose-built components.
The driver line-up has also been confirmed: Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Adrian Fernandez will compose the team.
“I’m excited about this program as it’s our opportunity to take Aston Martin back to the top of the world of GT racing. The Vantage GTE is a great car; she’s coming along nicely now and we’re ready to take on what we expect will be tough competition,” Turner said.
“The FIA World Endurance Championship calendar looks good to me, especially as I’ve already won in an Aston Martin at half of the tracks: Sebring, Silverstone, Interlagos and of course at Le Mans. We are going to Sebring next month with a brand new car, but that’s exactly what we did with the DBR9 back in 2005 and we won that race. I’m not promising we can repeat that but we’ll certainly try.”
GALLERY: 2012 Aston Martin Vantage GTE
Can a gasoline engine best a diesel one in endurance racing? It can during qualifying, as Acura proved by claiming the pole for the 12 Hours of Sebring race, set to take place tomorrow.
Scott Dixon shocked pretty much everyone on Thursday by piloting the de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a to the pole with a time of just 1:45.27. Neither Audi or Peugeot (both favored to claim the pole over Acura) could post a better lap. Impressively this pole position is the first for Acura, during it’s first ever race in the top-level LMP1 class.
“I’ve watched this race for many years and it’s always been exciting so now it’s great that I get to race here,” Dixon said. “I’ve tested on the short track many times with IndyCar but never on the big track. So you can’t help but grin from ear to ear to be excited to drive here.”
“Overall it’s been a great week especially now having Acura on the overall pole,” Dixon said. “It was unexpected. We always shoot for the pole from the get-go. But realistically I thought we were only to be third or fourth. It was interesting when I heard I was going to qualify the car. I’m not sure why Gil picked me in the end, but I think all three of us could have done it.”
The battle for pole was a close one, however, with Tom Kristensen just 0.082 seconds behind in the new Audi R15. In fact, the fiels was so close that all top-five qualifiers were just 0.281 seconds apart.
The third fastest time was posted by Christian Klien in one of the Peugeot 908 HDi coupes.
In the LMP2 class, Acura also claimed the top spot with Adrian Fernandez in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b posting a 1:49.686.
As for the remainder of the classes, Corvette clinched the GT1 pole with a Oliver Gavin behind the wheel in what will be the last Sebring race for the C6.R as it retires later this season.
The final class, GT2 saw a Porsche on the pole with Dirk Werner in the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche GT3 RSR running a time 2:03.051.
Complete qualifying results after the jump: