Canadian Paul Dalla Lana (above right) has been a WEC GTE Am stalwart for several seasons now but has yet to seal the title winning deal despite repeated race winning form.
Qualifying in Shanghai though saw the 2017 Championship’s Driver’s points battle squared up after a sixth season pole position for the #98 Aston crew, Dalla Lana qualifying alongside Pedro Lamy, scoring his third, and Lamy’s fourth consecutive Shanghai pole positions.
Together with Mathias Lauda the trio are now level on points in the Drivers Championship with the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche trio, and second equal with the #77 crew and just a point behind the Championship leading Clearwater Ferrari crew in the team standings.
Whilst focusing squarely on those elusive titles though Dalla Lana is also looking forward to the potential for 2018. Things are changing from a position where, just weeks ago, his position was that without the new 2018 Vantage GTE being approved for GTE Am in the transitional ‘Super Season’ he might not return.
“There are decisions to be made, and I’m driving the new car for the first time at Sebring next week ahead of the launch in London later in the month.
“We know we won’t be able to start the season in the new car in WEC for GTE Am but of course I’d like the car to be available for the 2019 races in the season (Sebring, Spa and Le Mans), so there are questions there too..
“One of the important things for me was to have a good level of competition in the class next year and that looks pretty good right now.”
So would there be a chance of seeing the new car in the early season IMSA races, where Dalla Lana could drive in the GTLM class?
“My understanding is that the programme was always aimed at having the car ready for the start of the WEC season which, at that point, we expected to be Silverstone at its then usual time in the year so no I don’t think the car will be out before the start of the WEC.
“I do though want to do some other racing before then and there are still races on my bucket list.
“I want to do Bathurst again for sure, and the Nurburgring, and Spa, though I need to look at what I can fit in around work and family commitments. Obviously if the ‘Ring becomes a possibility there are other days required to get the license.”
And what about the early US races with the current Aston Martin?
“There are still some conversations, we’ll see! Things are pretty fluid, there are a lot of possibilities, but no firm decisions just yet. I will be out next year, and this Aston Martin family is a pretty special place to be just now. We’ll maybe have some more answers in the next few weeks.”