Aston Martin Racing claimed a sensational first, second and third at the ADAC 1000km of Nürburgring, 50 years on from Aston Martin’s 1959 win in the classic German endurance race with the DBR1. The 007 Gulf liveried LMP1 car of Jan Charouz (CZ), Tomáš Enge (CZ) and Stefan Mücke (DE) finished first, recording their second win of the season and fourth podium finish from four races.
The 009 car of Harold Primat (CH) and Darren Turner (GB) finished second. The third Aston Martin Racing entry of Chris Buncombe (GB), Stuart Hall (GB) and Miguel Ramos (PT) finished just behind 009, securing an all Aston Martin podium.
The trio of Aston Martins made a clean start to the 195 lap race which started at 12:30 local time. Mücke and Turner held first and second places respectively in their 007 and 009 LMP1 cars. Ramos in the 008 car quickly made up two places finishing eighth by the end of his first stint. Just under one hour into the race the Aston Martins stopped for fuel. Mücke and Turner remained in 007 and 009 to rejoin for double stints on their Michelin tyres, while Ramos handed the wheel of the 008 Aston Martin to British driver Buncombe who worked his way up to sixth.
At the next round of pit stops, Mücke and Turner were replaced by Charouz in the 007 and Primat in the 009. The 007 car stopped for slightly longer than usual to allow the team to fit a larger rear deck gurney to reduce oversteer on the car and improve handling. The 007 pit crew worked at lightning speed, changing the part in just over 10 seconds and 007 rejoined the race in first place. In 008 Buncombe remained in the Michelin-shod Aston Martin and moved up a further place to fifth before the end of his double stint. New to the car for this race, Buncombe adapted quickly to the Aston Martin and was soon on the pace of the leaders.
Just after 3pm local time with the race well underway and Aston Martin Racing’s main rivals suffering from mechanical issues, the cars pitted for the third time. Buncombe was in first, handing the reigns of 008 to fellow British driver Stuart Hall. Primat and Turner switched in 009 and the team performed the same change to the rear deck gurney on the 009 car, again with minimum disruption to the pit stop. In the 007 Aston Martin, Charouz remained behind the wheel, stopping for fuel only before continuing in first place.
After three hours and 100 laps the cars were running first, second and fourth. The team held its breath when Charouz suffered a spin in the 007 Aston Martin on lap 110 but the car was undamaged and he retained first position. By lap 112 Aston Martin was occupying the top three places with the order 007, 009 and 008 and this remained the same until just after the four hour mark when 009, on fresh tyres passed sister car 007 to take the lead.
By this time Czech driver Enge was in the 007, Turner was back behind the wheel of 009 and Hall remained in 008 to complete his double stint. At just after 5pm local time Hall returned 008 to the pits in third place and Buncombe took over for the second time, staying behind the wheel until the end of the race. Turner pitted shortly afterwards with Primat taking over for his second session in 009.
Enge pitted from first on lap 163 and German driver Mücke returned to the wheel of the 007 to the finish, taking the chequered flag at his home race. Pole sitter Mücke was officially the quickest man on track today, setting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 01min 44.125s.
All three Aston Martins ran trouble free for the duration of the race, stopping only for seven scheduled pit stops each. The result marks the team’s best achievement yet in the Le Mans Series says Team Principal, George Howard-Chappell: “Absolutely brilliant! I couldn’t have dreamt of a one, two, three. The result is a real tribute to the team, the drivers and the whole organisation. I would particularly like to thank Michelin for their support and their valued help. All round it is just fantastic and the flags will definitely be flying at the Aston Martin Racing headquarters in the UK tomorrow morning.”
Aston Martin Racing heads to Silverstone, UK for the fifth round of the Le Mans Series on 13 September 2009. The 007 Aston Martin will start the final round of the 2009 Le Mans Series at their home race with a seven point lead in the Teams Championship.