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Aston Martin Vantage GT3 records brilliant double podium finish on World Championship debut in Qatar

Aston Martin Vantage GT3 records brilliant double podium finish on World Championship debut in Qatar

Monday, March 4, 2024/ Editor -  

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  • New Vantage GT3 storms to second and third place finishes
  • Heart of Racing records best FIA WEC finish with second place in LMGT3
  • D’station Racing fights back to third place with inspired drive on debut for French drivers Clément Mateu and Erwan Bastard
  • New WEC GT class provides close racing among rival manufacturers

Saturday, 2 March, 2024, Doha: The new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 took a brilliant double LMGT3 class podium on its debut in a thrilling opening round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), held for the first time at the Lusail International Circuit in Qatar, on Saturday.

Racing in the new-for-2024 LMGT3 class, the US-based Heart of Racing team, and its drivers Ian James (GBR), Daniel Mancinelli (ITA) and Alex Riberas (ESP), narrowly missed out on a maiden class victory at world level, having led the Qatar 1812 Km for large periods of the event. Ultimately, the team finished a mere five seconds behind the winning car after a storming drive.

Second place was the Heart of Racing’s best result on only its fifth race in the WEC, and marks its second consecutive podium finish, after the team placed third in the 2023 8 Hours of Bahrain finale last November.

Underlining the exciting potential of the new Vantage GT3, D’station Racing also delivered its second consecutive podium finish with third place, after charging through the order in the second half of the race. It was the perfect reward for the Japanese-run squad, whose Vantage GT3 was driven by French WEC debutants Clément Mateu and Erwan Bastard, as well as three-time FIA World Endurance Champion Marco Sørensen (DEN).

Adam Carter, Aston Martin Head of Endurance Motorsport, said: “This was a very promising start for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3, underlining its potential both as a competitive racing car and as an accessible platform for racing drivers of all levels to extract the maximum performance from it. WEC must also be congratulated for the new format it has introduced with the LMGT3 class, which proved highly competitive, and entertaining, and is a great platform for rival manufacturers to compete on an equal footing. We now move on to the next round at Imola, confident that we can build on this strong opening result and in the knowledge there is more to come from our new Vantage.”

Both Vantage GT3s started the race in the top five of the LMGT3 class, and established themselves solidly in the top ten early in the race, Mateu running as high as third in the opening stint.

James, also team principal of the Heart of Racing, then delivered an impressive quadruple stint – a little under three hours in the cockpit all told – and his drive underpinned a solid race-long run for the car, which remained in the fight for the lead after the point he handed it over to Mancinelli. Riberas’ first stint saw the team establish a small advantage over the rival Porsche, but a minor error dropped the car back into the clutches of the pack. Friendly on tyres, and with a good energy management plan, the car in back in the hands of Riberas was then able to press hard in the final stint, closing the gap from 20s to five at the flag.

“This is a great day for the Heart of Racing and the new Vantage GT3,” said James after the race. “We fought for the win all day long and we ended up with second, and we are very happy with that. Now we move on to Imola with some good points in the bag. The strategy was good, everyone in the team played their part and they did a great job with the car.”

D'station Racing’s rookie duo both performed brilliantly, underlining the improved drivability of the Vantage as Mateu delivered a highly competitive first stint in his first start in WEC. He then suffered a small issue in the pits, which dropped the team to tenth, but delivered another three consistent stints to keep the team in the hunt. Bastard drove exceptionally well, and error-free, to put the car back in the top five, and Sørensen emerged the victor in a thrilling battle with his former AMR team-mate Maxime Martin for third in the final stages.

Marco Sørensen said: “It feels amazing, it’s fantastic to start the season with a podium. We had a few small mistakes in the race, but I think we can be very proud of what we did. I don’t think we expected to be on the podium in the first race of the season, so I am very happy for the whole team. Congratulations in particular to Clément and Erwan, who did a great job on their first race in the WEC. I also have to say the #777 D’station Racing car felt like one of the fastest GT cars in the race, and that just says a great deal about how much potential the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 has. I am really looking forward to Imola.”

The WEC now moves on to the 6 Hours of Imola, on 21 April, but before then the Heart of Racing which gave the Vantage GT3 its competition debut at Daytona in January, returns to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, on 16 March.


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