Gaw has mixed feelings after debut

The Aston Martin Racing Team had mixed fortunes the Sebring Raceway
The Aston Martin Racing Team had mixed fortunes the Sebring Raceway

Aston Martin Racing’s new Vantage GTE demonstrated front-running pace and mechanical reliability in one of endurance racing’s toughest environments – the famous Sebring Raceway.

And while the Vantage GTE was denied the opportunity to deliver on its ultimate potential through misfortune, it withstood the notorious bumps of the converted former WWII airfield in Florida and was in the lead fight by the middle of the race. It then went on to produce another FIA World Endurance Championship double-points finish in the inaugural 1000 Miles of Sebring in the USA.

The disappointment of not being able to challenge for the win at the end and getting to the front in both classes is palpable

Aston Martin Racing team boss John Gaw

Both Vantage GTEs looked strong through practice, Alex Lynn set the fastest time in Wednesday’s practice and was second fastest in qualifying on Thursday in the #97 car he shares with Maxime Martin.

That car and the #95 machine driven by Danish duo Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen and returning three-time Le Mans class winner Darren Turner put in a sterling performance in the first half of the eight-hour race, having started out of position following an incident-packed qualifying session.

A minor problem in the second half of the race with the lit-number panel, as darkness fell, on the #97 car was followed by a competitor spinning the #95 car off the track, dropping both cars out of race-winning contention in an incredibly competitive GTE Pro class.

The team’s misfortune was then compounded by the reigning GTE Am world champions Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda suffering a puncture on their V8 Vantage GTE while challenging for the lead of the class – this after having led for long periods of the race.

Managing director John Gaw said: “This one’s already hurting, and that feeling is only going to increase until we can race again at Spa in May. The disappointment of not being able to challenge for the win at the end and getting to the front in both classes is palpable.

“We made a real step change in our dry- weather pace in the GTE Pro class after the win in the wet weather at Shanghai and this will only motivate us more as we look forward to getting back to the European races and the biggest event of the year at Le Mans in June.”

Turner said: “It was good to be back in the car and I could really feel the difference in it since the last time I’d raced it at Le Mans in 2018.”