Paul Ricard, 9 March 2009. Following weeks of intense preparation Aston Martin Racing ran its new LMP1 cars for the first time at the Le Mans Series test held at the Paul Ricard Circuit in France on 8/9 March.
Car numbers 007 and 009 resplendent in their Gulf Oil International orange and blue livery took to the French circuit on Sunday morning. All six of the team’s drivers, Jan Charouz (CZ), Tomas Enge (CZ), Stefan Mücke (DE), Harold Primat (CH), Miguel Ramos (PT) and Darren Turner (GB) got an opportunity to test the new cars.
Members of the public were granted access to the Paul Ricard Test Track for the first time in 10 years and 3,500 spectators arrived on Sunday to view the on-track action from the newly installed grandstands. In total 28 of the 50 cars that will compete in the Le Mans Series took part in the official test with the Aston Martins taking centre stage.
The team was encouraged by the performance and reliability over the course of the test and encountered no significant issues despite the cars having barely turned a wheel prior to the start of the test.
The team suffered a setback on the afternoon of day one when the 007 car suffered an accident with Czech driver Tomas Enge at the wheel. Although the car sustained heavy damage, Enge walked away uninjured from the accident.
Also taking part in the test was Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing – Drayson Racing with their No. 87 Aston Martin Vantage GT2. Drivers Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker used the test to benchmark the off-season improvements the team has made to the V8-powered machine. The results were encouraging as the Vantage GT2 performed well on its new Michelin tyres.
The Le Mans Series consists of five 1,000km races, the first of which is the 1,000km of Catalunya which will take place on 5 April at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain. The other races take place at Spa in Belgium, at the new Algarve circuit in Portugal and at the Nürburgring in Germany where Aston Martin has its Test Centre facility. The series finale takes place on the team’s home turf of Silverstone in the UK.
In addition to the Le Mans Series, Aston Martin Racing will compete in the Le Mans 24 hour race which takes place on 13/14 June 2009.