Le Mans: Aston Martin snatches last lap lead in GTE to take long awaited victory
Sunday 18 June, Le Mans, France: Aston Martin Racing has taken victory at the 85th 24 Hours of Le Mans in dramatic style, after Jonny Adam (GB) snatched the GTE Pro lead on the final lap of the iconic endurance race.
Partnered by Darren Turner (GB) and Daniel Serra (BR), the trio and their Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE performed faultlessly to ensure they remained in the hunt for victory right until the death.
With just over 45 minutes left on the clock, Jonny Adam found himself pitting at the same time as the #63 Corvette for a final fuel stop. With both cars exiting the pit lane together – with Adam in second – it was inevitable that he would have to make the pass while on track.
After trading places with his rival for much of the final stint, Adam prevailed and overtook the #63 Corvette as he crossed the start/finish line on the penultimate lap. With his rival running wide at the second Mulsanne corner under pressure from the Scot, a slow puncture halted their progress and ensured the victory.
Jonny Adam said, “For Daniel and Darren to put me in that mix to battle for the front was testament to how good the car has been all weekend. To see how well the guys had driven, we had zero mistakes and we did our best to keep the car out of the pits as often as we could and just try and run a consistent pace throughout. It was an extremely tough last stint, we nearly pipped the Corvette on the pit exit in the last hour and when he did get the jump there he was fast. He managed to pull at one point a six to eight car length gap, but our goal was not to give up. He looked weak in a few corners and I knew I had to capitalise on them and when I got on to his bumper I knew it was now or never if I wanted to win Le Mans. We got it and it was really cool to get him just before the finish line and to see fans in the grandstands and the team on the pit wall celebrating, and it was then just time to bring it home.”
Darren Turner, who earlier this week set a new qualifying GTE lap record, took his third Le Mans class win today following victory in 2007 and 2008 with the Aston Martin DRB9 added, “After how our preparations went, it was always looking like it was going to be an epic battle and it was right from the start. The lead ebbed and flowed from every manufacturer in the GTE Pro class at some point in the race but the Aston Martin Racing Vantage was always there or thereabouts. I have to say Jonny’s last stint was exceptional and Daniels’ pace considering it was his first time at Le Mans was great, I couldn’t ask for two better team mates. The team did an exceptional job throughout the night, and what a feeling, I am so proud to be part of this team. It was a great team effort and it was great to be on the top step. It’s just a shame that the whole team couldn’t join us as it was one of the best podiums I have ever been on and for me personally this was my hardest Le Mans and my sweetest victory.”
Daniel Serra, who set the fastest ever GTE racing lap as a Le Mans rookie said, ““I don’t have words to describe the feeling. It was my first time in Le Mans and to start on pole was already amazing, then setting the race lap record and finally wining on the last lap was incredible. I am so grateful to Aston Martin Racing for putting their trust in me, a rookie, for my first time at Le Mans. Also, a big thanks to Jonny and Darren for all the help and support they have given me to learn about this race as quickly as possible. I am just so happy. I don’t have words to explain it properly. I just won the biggest race in motorsport, it’s awesome”.
Paul Howarth Team Principal Aston Martin Racing said, “It’s very difficult to put into words what it means to Aston Martin Racing and all of our partners. Aston Martin and it’s heritage has a strong history with this very special race and to deliver a Pro class win with the #97 is a credit to everybody involved whether here at the track or whatever part they play with this race team”.
Speaking of the result, Andy Palmer, President and CEO Aston Martin said, “I am immensely proud of everyone who has played a part in this victory today. To enjoy this kind of success at the top level of endurance racing is testimony to the quality of both the team and the V8 Vantage GTE. I am sure that Darren, Jonny and Daniel’s victory today will go down as one of the all-time greatest drives at this iconic race. I wish them the very best of luck for the rest of this year’s World Endurance Championship”.
The result comes just days after the luxury British marque unveiled its latest Vantage AMR special editions. Announced at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the brand’s AMR performance brand amplifies and accentuates the sporting prowess of the British marque’s road cars, by taking inspiration or direct influence from Aston Martin Racing’s participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Aston Martin Racing will return to the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 6 Hours of Nürburgring on Sunday 16 July.