The 2016 FIA WEC GTE Pro champions, navigated their way through no less than five safety cars, and had to contend with two red flag stoppages because of torrential and persistent rain, to bring home the win for the #95 Vantage GTE.
Aston Martin was the class of the GTE Pro field all day in difficult conditions and ran one-two, with the sister #97 car driven by Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn also leading at different stages of the event. With an hour to go there was a possibility of a clean sweep at the top of the podium but earlier in the race the team had chosen to split the two cars’ strategy to optimise its chances for victory.
That meant that the #97 had to change to its final set of wet tyres earlier than the #95 for the final stint, leaving them struggling for grip when a further rain shower came at the end of the race and they finished fourth.
So it was down to the #95 to contend for the win as the weather and the light deteriorated, making conditions treacherous. But following on from a typically committed and hard-charging middle stint from Thiim, Sørensen maintained his composure and delivered a historic victory despite the increased pressure of another late-race safety car.
Aston Martin Racing boss John Gaw said: “Obviously it is great for us to record the first victory for the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE. It took Porsche 15 attempts to win with their brand new GTE car and we’ve managed it after just four!
“It was maybe the most complicated race there has been in the FIA WEC. It was also one of the most competitive GTE Pro races – outside of Le Mans – because there were 11 cars in the class; which was a first. It was also a big boost for us to know that we were on exactly the same Michelin tyre as our immediate competition and today we had the fastest car.
“We decided this weekend to ensure that we didn’t have both cars on the same strategy to stay in contention at all times because we were going for the win. That actually put the #95 on a sub-optimal strategy initially, but it meant the #97 had to run a full stint on worn wets at the end of the race.”