Nestled amongst the near 60 car entry list for 24H CoTA from 10-12 November is the #232 entry in the SP3 GT4 class, listed as an entry from Aston Martin Lagonda.
The car is a unique Aston Martin Vantage GT8, prepped to GT4 specification and familiar to DSC readers (and Radio Le Mans listeners) as one of the cars recently fielded at the Nürburgring 24 Hours (featured).
The car is an impressive piece of kit, but with respect to Marek Reichmann (Aston Martin’s chief designer), and David King, vice president and chief special operations officer and the man at the helm of the AML in-house race team, the really eye-catching part of the entry is the four man driver line-up.
Alongside Aston Martin Nürburgring regular ex-BTCC entrant Peter Cate and regular top three finisher in the ‘World’s nicest men’ contest, are three personalities familiar to DSC readers.
The first is star of the Great British Bake Off and sometime British GT racer Paul Hollywood, a man who undoubtedly sits very close to the top of the form in a very exclusive club: Celebrity Baker!
Then comes John Hindhaugh, the DSC Ed’s regular partner in broadcasting crime, of†en overly enthusiastic racer at Duracell bunny levels and a man so keen on nailing this drive that he has undertaken a (hugely successful) fitness and weight loss campaign.
Win, lose, disaster or heroic fighting finish we are likely to be treated to a blow-by-blow account of this one for some time to come.
And the final member of the ‘Awesome Foursome’ is a member of another exclusive club, senior automotive executives who go racing.
Dr Andy Palmer is the CEO of Aston Martin, who has led the company into a substantial transition. He introduced the DB9-replacing DB11, is about to do the same with the new Vantage, prepping the company for expansion with the addition of the company’s new St Athan production base for the ‘crossover’ DBX, progressing the deal with Mercedes AMG to secure a future turbo V8 engine supply chain.
He’s also been cultivating a relationship with Red Bull Racing that has seen the emergence of the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar and a forthcoming expanded partnership with the F1 team, plus the establishment and expansion of the wonderfully named ‘Q Branch’ under David King that has already seen the build of the Vulcan hyper track car and now oversees the expanding AMR range of high(er) performance versions of the Aston Martin range. Oh, and a submarine!
So it’s been a busy time then Andy?
“It’s been exciting, and a privilege.”
Andy was initially slated to race earlier this season at the Bathurst 12 Hour but the entry came and went without his name added.
“That’s right, I initially intended to do the race but with other commitments ended up doing less racing in 2016 than I expected to do. Bathurst is a track you have to treat with ultimate respect and I simply hadn’t done enough to prepare myself for it.
“I did the Silverstone 24 Hours back in 2015, hated it while I was doing it but loved it as soon as I finished!”
This year though that has changed, a quartet of AMOC race meetings that are “absolutely ideal, I can just roll up on the day and go racing,” with the CoTA outing the culmination of the 2017 plan but not the end of the story.
Looking ahead I’d still like to do Bathurst, and I’d like to race at the Spa 24 Hours too!
“The move to the GT8 GT4 is a step up, but looking ahead I’d still like to do Bathurst, and I’d like to race at the Spa 24 Hours too!”
For now though the focus is on Texas, and the effort ahead – with David King’s in-house ‘Q’ team handling the race prep, strategy and spannering. So what about your team-mates?
“Well Pete is professional-ish! Paul has flirted with British GT and with Aston Martin previously and John, I’ve known him for a long time and he shares the mutual desire and passion for this with me. It could be quite a weekend!”