Aston Martin triumphed over adversity in the closing hours of the 38th ADAC Nürburgring 24-hour race in Germany after encountering a number of challenges in a highly eventful final quarter of the race.
The new four-door Rapide recorded a hugely impressive podium finish in the SP8 class after running faultlessly throughout the 24-hours and customer team Mathol Racing notched victory in the SP10 class for GT4 cars, with their Vantage N24. Meanwhile, the factory-entered V12 Vantage having spent time out of the race owing to a combination of driveshaft and fuel pump issues mounted a dramatic comeback thanks to a blend of impressive lap times, efficient team work and a little help from another Aston Martin.
After taking the wheel for the final stint in the Rapide, Aston Martin Chief Executive, Dr Ulrich Bez said: “Our main objective was to come here with our new four-door Rapide, just as we would with any of our sports cars and prove its ability and reliability in what I strongly believe is the toughest race in the world. The car we ran in this race featured some weight savings, a standard production six-speed automatic gearbox, standard engine and FIA approved safety modifications. We have succeeded in what we set out to achieve.
“It is also very pleasing to see so many Aston Martins on the starting grid when as recently as 2006 there was only one.
The factory-entered Rapide, appearing in near standard-guise, just as the production car version starts to reach customers around the world, lodged a claim for one of the stand-out performers of the race having run faultlessly for the whole 24-hours. Enjoying consistent running at the hands of drivers Aston Martin CEO, Dr Ulrich Bez, journalist, Matthew Marsh, the company’s Nürburgring Test Centre Director, Wolfgang Schuhbauer and engineering manager, Chris Porritt, the Rapide rose from a qualifying position of 79th overall (8th in class) to take 34th overall and 2nd in class.
Meanwhile, the six privateer Aston Martin entries – together helping form a record Aston Martin entry at the Nürburgring 24-hour race – enjoyed varying degrees of success in the race. Mathol Racing took victory in the SP10 GT4 class having dominated for almost the entire race, scoring 27th overall. With two Aston Martins entered, Gentle Swiss Racing saw luck desert them as they narrowly missed out on a double podium in SP8 and SP10 – taking 5th and 4th respectively.
However, perhaps the greatest drama was reserved for the factory-entered V12 Vantage driven by experienced sports car racers Peter Cate, Oliver Mathai, journalist Richard Meaden and Chris Porritt who also undertook stints in the Rapide.
Having established an impressive class lead in SP8 for more than half the race, the number six car was pushing for a top 20 place overall in the early hours of Sunday morning before an unfortunate and extraordinary sequence of events. Oliver Mathai was taken ill on reporting for his second stint in the car prompting a swift re-shuffle of the driver duties and an early morning call for Richard Meaden. However, it was then fate dealt a second cruel blow as the car suffered problems with a driveshaft. A miraculous turnaround by the Aston Martin team saw the car returned to action inside 16 minutes, but still the drama showed no signs of abating as television pictures showed the V12 Vantage stationary mid-way around the 25.378km circuit.
It was then that some swift thinking and another Aston Martin came into play. Three team members headed for the Cygnet city concept car on display in the paddock over the weekend, which offered an ideal small car to negotiate a path through a packed paddock and busy surrounding roads to reach the V12 Vantage via perimeter roads and get the car towed back to the garage. From there technicians worked frantically to return the car to action, handing over to Chris Porritt who, recording lap times not too far off qualifying pace – later replicated by Peter Cate and Richard Meaden, capped the second half of a remarkable comeback.
Head of Motorsport, David King commented: “In the first instance we’re obviously delighted that the Rapide has achieved 2nd in class and 34th overall – amongst such a hugely competitive field of specialist race cars, it really is a fantastic achievement and testament to our new four-door road car. We came here to prove the Rapide in this toughest of tests and it has passed with flying colours.
“Finally, I must pay tribute to our own team who under considerable pressure, showed calm and meticulous thinking to get the V12 Vantage back to the circuit and latterly our drivers, who pushed the car back up the order. The team have been nothing short of professional throughout and it has been a fantastic effort of which I’m very proud to have been associated with.”
Aston Martin Final Race Standings:
|6||Aston Martin||SP8||V12 Vantage||3rd||39th|
|59||Gentle Swiss Racing||SP10 GT4||V8 Vantage N24||4th||46th|
|60||Mathol Racing||SP10 GT4||V8 Vantage||5th||78th|
|61||Mathol Racing||SP10 GT4||V8 Vantage||1st||27th|
|66||Privateer Entry||SP8||V8 Vantage||DNF||DNF|
|67||Birchwood Racing||SP10 GT4||V8 Vantage N24||DNF||DNF|
|74||Gentle Swiss Racing||SP8||V8 Vantage N24||5th||84th|