DSC sat down with AMR boss John Gaw and Paul Howarth this week following a tour of Prodrive’s facility in Banbury, for various discussions ahead of the new season. A full interview with Howard will be live on DSC soon; before that though, here’s some snippets as the 2017 WEC Prologue edges ever closer:
Wet tyres the focus for Dunlop
A big surprise from the 2016 FIA WEC season was the incredible development curve of Aston Martin Racing’s GTE Pro Dunlop tyres, which towards the end of the season helped the team secure the GTE Pro Teams’ and Drivers’ Championships.
Over the off-season though, Dunlop hasn’t rested on its laurels, and has focused on improving AMR’s tyre compounds across the board. AMR team manager Paul Howarth revealed that improving its wet compound though, was a prime target for this off-season.
“The Dunlop tyres are set to be better in the wet this year,” Howarth told DSC. “Obviously we don’t know what the competition is up to, but we’re confident and the performance of them is where we want them to be.
“With wet tyres, the key is in the driver’s feedback. They have been getting out of the car with smiles on their faces, which is what you want. They could be the best tyres in the world, but if a driver isn’t confident driving them in bad weather then there’s no advantage gained.”
2016 car for the #98 crew
AMR has confirmed to DSC that the #98 GTE Am Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda will be an upgraded a 2016-spec car.
In addition to that, all the Vantages set to race in the ELMS and WEC this year (both the TF Sport and Beechdean AMR cars) will receive the 2016 updates too; the newer package proving to be very competitive against the most recent turbo-powered GTE cars in the WEC’s Pro class.
Tyre manufacturer ‘TBC’ in GTE Am
On the WEC full-season entry list for 2017 the #98 GTE Am Aston Martin was down as a Michelin runner as it was in 2016, despite the Pro cars moving to Dunlop.
Howarth confirmed to DSC though that the decision on the tyre manufacturer has yet to be made for Dalla Lana, Lauda and Lamy.
Should the team choose Michelin for 2017, they are able to change to Dunlop during the season, though each team is now only able to change tyre supplier once a year following ESM’s multiple tyre changes in 2016.
2007 Le Mans Winning DBR9 Sold
The 2007 Le Mans-winning #009 Aston Martin DBR9 driven by Rickard Rydell, Darren Turner and David Brabham has been sold to a private collector.
The car was stripped back to its shell in the Prodrive workshop during DSC’s visit, as part of its preparation before it is handed over to its new owner.
Its win back in 2007 was the first of two Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 class victories by the marque, finishing (fifth overall!) a lap ahead of its nearest rival – the #63 Corvette Racing C6.R of Johnny O’Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows – in the rain-soaked race.
Busy Times At Prodrive
Whilst the AMR side of the ‘house’ was busy, the very much behind closed doors part of Prodrive, their Advanced Technologies unit next door seems set to be busier still with programmes ranging from the newly announced Renault Megane World Rallycross car for 2018 via the HummingBird folding bike (the lightest in the world) and onto an order for 20 plug in hybrid Ford Transit delivery vehicles for Transport for London.