Aston Martin reveals all-factory GTWCE Endurance line-up
Aston Martin will be represented by an all-factory driver line-up in a full GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup campaign for the first time this season.
Two-time FIA World Endurance Championship title winners Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen will be joined by fellow works driver and Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro class champion Maxime Martin in one of two Aston Martin Vantage GT3s entered by the Prodrive-run Beechdean AMR squad in the five-round series.
The programme brings Aston back to the top class of the endurance leg of the GTWCE for the first time since its 2018 and 2019 campaigns in what was then known as the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with R-Motorsport, whose cars were jointly run by the JOTA and Arden teams.
Beechdean AMR is swapping from the British GT Championship to return to GTWCE, a move announced earlier this month, with the factory line-up in a Pro class entry and a second Vantage entered in the new-for-2022 Gold Cup category.
Team boss Andrew Howard will race in the class for line-ups made up of one gold, one silver and one bronze-rated driver with Valentin Hasse-Clot, who has been named as part of Aston Martin’s factory roster, and Theo Nouet.
Howard was the only driver confirmed on the announcement of Beechdean’s 2022 campaign, but Hasse-Clot and Nouet were listed as participants with the team in the official GTWCE test at Paul Ricard that followed its initial statement.
Howard, winner of the 2016 European Le Mans Series GTE title with Beechdean, described the move into the GTWCE as “the beginning of a new chapter” for the team.
“Together with the help and collaboration of Aston Martin, we intend to demonstrate the full potential of the Vantage in the world’s most competitive GT series,” said Howard.
He also outlined his aspiration to take outright victory in the Spa 24 Hours, the centrepiece round of GTWCE.
“I’ve always wanted to win Spa outright; it’s something about that Art Deco trophy; I’d like to see it in my cabinet one day,” he said. “I also like to go racing at the highest-possible level with no restrictions.”
Howard also revealed an aspiration to help Aston Martin develop young drivers.
“This is part of a two or three-year programme for me to try to bring young silvers through in a true academy that allows Aston to build the next generation of Maxime Martins, Nicki Thiims and Marco Sorensens,” he said.
He explained that it is his intent is to return to British GTs, a series he won in 2015, next year and for Beechdean to run one Pro car and one car in the Silver Cup in the GTWCE enduros.
Frenchman Hasse-Clot, 26, has landed a factory deal after winning the 2020 AMR academy followed by a season focused on GTWCE and the Asian Le Mans assaults with the Garage 59 team last year.
He is renewing his partnership with fellow countryman Nouet after they won the GT4 European Series in 2020 driving Vantage GT4 for the AGS Events squad.
Hasse-Clot becomes the seventh full Aston factory driver alongside Thiim, Sorensen, Martin, Jonny Adam, Charlie Eastwood and Ross Gunn.
David Pittard was announced as part of the factory roster earlier this year but is officially a NorthWest AMR driver after his employer in the WEC, Aston has stated.
Aston Martin has previously had a car driven by three factory drivers in the GTWCE on only two occasions.
Darren Turner, Frederic Makowiecki and Stefan Mucke drove a V12 Vantage GT3 at the Silverstone round of what was then known as the Blancpain Endurance Series in 2013 and last year Sorensen, Thiim and Gunn finished third overall at Spa driving a Garage 59-entered Vantage.
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