AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the sanctioning body behind the 24 Hours of LeMans race, announced a series of rule changes designed to make the gasoline powered LMP1 race cars more competitive with their diesel powered brethern. Currently, oil-burning offerings from Audi and Peugeot dominate the field, but in 2011, the auto makers will see a new challenger from British firm Aston Martin.
Like the Audi R10, the Aston Martin will be an open cockpit single seater, but engine details remain scarce. Only time will tell if the new regulations have leveled the playing field, but the diesels have done a good job of capturing the public’s imagination.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
[Source: Aston Martin]
Just three months away from the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race, Aston Martin debuted its team of overall contenders in the LMP1 class during the first test session on Sunday.
Both cars featured the Gulf Oil blue and orange livery as they set out on the world-famous Paul Ricard Circuit. All six drivers from both cars (Jan Charouz, Tomas Enge and Stefan Mücke in the 007 car and Harold Primat, Miguel Ramos and Darren Turner in the 009 car) had a chance behind the wheel.
The tests looked positive with this being not only the first time the drivers have had a chance to pilot the cars, but also the first time the cars have seen track action. The test for the 007 team was, however, cut short when Czech driver Tomas Enge crashed the car. Enge suffered no serious injuries. The same, however, can not be said of the car.
“Unfortunately because of my error the test was compromised, but prior to the accident the car was good,” said Enge, whose co-pilots also praised the 007 car.
“The car was very stable and quick and we didn’t experience any technical difficulties which was great as it is a completely new car,” said Charouz. “I’m looking forward to the first race to see how we compare to the competition.”
As for Mucke, he had this to say: “The engine note from the V12 is fantastic, especially on the long straight here at Paul Ricard. I am looking forward to the first race; it will be interesting to see where we are against the diesel cars.”
As for the 009 team, which had a full session worth of testing, all three drivers were impressed with car and noted the vast difference in potential of an LMP1 car over some of the GT cars they have driven previously.
“The main focus right now is to put miles on the new car and to allow me and my team mates to get up to speed,” said Turner. “For me it is a big step from the DBR9 to LMP1 but I’m happy that after two days of testing I am starting to feel comfortable and I’m really looking forward to the first race in Barcelona and the rest of the year.
Ramos, who has also come from a GT car, was more than impressed with the capabilities of the new car. “The speed on corning is great,” he said but, ” I’m not yet used to it as I normally drive a GT car. The Paul Ricard circuit is really challenging for someone who is just starting out in LMP1 and the g-force is really tough physically.”
Team Principal George Howard-Chappell was pleased with the effort, stating that, “It’s a credit to the team that both of our cars have run so reliably after such an intense and tiring build period. Obviously the accident has set us back to a degree but as always we will recover and we will be in Barcelona with two race-ready cars.”
The first race of the European Le Mans Series starts in Barcelona at the Circuit de Catalunya on April 5, however, the big race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is scheduled for June 13th and 14th.
GALLERY: Aston Martin LMP1
Official release after the jump: