The Aston Martin Vantage GTE clinched its first double victory in the FIA World Endurance Championship, with the car winning both the GTE Pro and Am classes of the 6 Hours of Fuji. It was Aston Martin’s first double triumph since the team managed it in Mexico in 2016.
Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim delivered a perfectly-judged performance with the #95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE Pro car in Japan, to deliver their first win of the 2019-2020 season and their second since the car was introduced in May 2018. Meanwhile in GTE Am TF Sport dominated the race with a lights-to-flag victory, having started from the class pole position.
Sørensen began the race from third, but quickly moved up to second in a first hour that stood out for its fantastically close racing between the three manufacturer teams in the Pro class. Once in front, thanks to a brilliant pass for the lead by the Dane on the pit straight using the tow of backmarker, he and team-mate Nicki Thiim (DEN) were able to establish control of the race.
The duo did briefly lose the lead to their team-mates Alex Lynn (GB) and Maxime Martin (BEL) in the #97 car, who undercut the #95 on an alternative strategy in the second hour, but after that the Danes managed the race and the intermittent rainy conditions perfectly. Lynn and Martin brought the sister Vantage GTE home in third, marking the first time the car has recorded a double-podium finish in GTE Pro.
It was the fifth win for Thiim and Sørensen in the Dane Train, and the third victory for the Vantage GTE in the last six WEC events. It means that the Danes are now second in the GTE Pro drivers’ standing, one point off the lead, while Aston Martin is also second in the Manufacturers’ Championship with 65 points.
“Winning a race like the one we did today is why we all do it,” said Sørensen. “It was great to be involved in the fight for the lead in the first hour of the race, and because we were leading, after that the race seemed to fly by. This was an important win for Aston Martin and and I am very proud for the team. I’m delighted.”
Thiim added: “It is a great feeling to be standing here as a winner. WEC GTE Pro has some of the best racing on the planet as you saw today. It was so close that we had to split strategies on the two cars to cover off the competition. That worked well for us and I’m really proud of the team who have worked so hard for this. They kept their focus and had the right mentality today which was why we were able to capitalise on the car’s pace. This is a fantastic result for Aston Martin.”
In only the second race since the Vantage GTE became eligible to race in the Am class, TF Sport produced an outstanding performance. Having started from pole position the bright red #90 car led all the way. Salih Yoluc became the first Turkish driver to win a WEC event, while for AMR works drivers Jonny Adam (GB) and Charlie Eastwood (IRL) it was the end of a long wait. TF Sport has finished second four times in the last two seasons prior to this win.
Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw added, “This result is the perfect demonstration of the Vantage GTE’s potential. It was a great performance by the two Danes. Marco drove extremely well in the first hour and Nicki was outstanding throughout his stint and when the rain came. This was also the first opportunity for us to see our Technical partner Michelin’s new tyres in action on an equal footing in the dry against our rivals, and I think we’ve proven that we are very much in the fight. That Alex and Max also finished on the podium rounded off an excellent team effort. It was indeed a great day for Aston Martin, and I would like to wish TF Sport congratulations on an excellent and long overdue win in the GTE Am class.”
The next round of the FIA WEC takes place at Shanghai, in China, on 10 November.