26 Jun 2011

LE MANS 2011-Aston Martin

Aston Martin have done very well at Le Mans in recent years . They have been succesful in the GT categories and have been up amongst the front petrol powered runners in the outright prototype category .They have attracted some top line sponsors including Gulf Oil, with their distinctive colour scheme which was already closely identified with Le Mans success through its association with Porsche and Ford.
Also Aston have built up a very enthusiastic British fan base and there were plenty of new era Astons at the circuit in the carparks and camping grounds and Aston Martin Racing flags in the crowd this year.
They have really ticked all the right boxes and made modern Le Mans a part of the Aston brand story in a way which Porsche have not done .
 Against this background it was disappointing to see them stumble so badly on the track .The problem started when the 2011 regulations were announced and belatedly Aston decided to build a totally new car and engine to meet them . For 2011 petrol engines were reduced from 6 litres to a maximum of 3.4 litres naturally aspirated.
Aston chose something completely different -- a 2 litre straight six turbocharged.
Dr Ulrich Baretzky head of Audi's highly succesful racing engine program described Aston's move in an interview in May's Motor Sport magazine as "incomprehensible".'"They made an open car with the wrong engine" he scoffs " a straight six engine with a turbo-sorry,but this is one of the worst combinations I have ever seen."
The cars absolutely bombed in early appearances with the engine proving very troublesome validating the good Doctor's comments . They bought the two cars to Le Mans and both were out within the first few laps in the first hour after lamentable performances in practice . It was a cringing embarrasment and a very costly lesson for Aston. They undoubtedly damaged their brand and their standing with their fans  as well as their bank balance .

My advice to Aston would be give one car to the Le Mans museum and put the other one in a big skip at the Gaydon factory and start again .

 The photos below show AMR 0ne #007 being wheeled out to the pits before the start of the race and the very sad spectacle of the closed garage doors on the two Aston pits in the early evening on Saturday. Behind those doors I am sure there were a lot of very upset and very tired people.


  1. not to forget the indie pendants, our belgian team, car 22, ran an older aston martin petrol in a Lola chassis and ran proud to finish 7th, and second in petrol class ... missing the gulf livery and also not to forget the gt entries ...

  2. Technically the Aston race cars should go back in the skip at Banbury, not Gaydon as they are a product of Prodrive (they didn't have any Subaru rally cars to run, so had to find something else to occupy their time with!) and nothing to do with the Aston Martin factory.

    The Aston Martin factory are still racing 'proper' Aston race cars at events like the Nurburgring 24 hour race (see and doing very well (2009 was a particular highlight) with near road spec cars.

    Maybe you should take a visit to the Nurburgring 24 hours?

  3. I understand the Aston fan's desire to distance himself from the Le Mans debacle but may's Motor Sport does have an interview with the Aston's team principal,George Howard-Chappel,at his Gaydon base and the car was entered by Aston Martin Racing so I reckon it was a works entry and it should go in a skip at Gaydon
    Anyway privateeers upheld Aston's honour in the end .
    Yes I would have loved to have gone to the Nurburgring 24 hours .