Aston Martin Confirms Racing Return
The Car Connection
WORLD REPORT: Europe by Ian Norris
Aston Martin will be racing its DB9 coupe by the end of the 2004 season, the company announced today, December 4th. In addition to racing its own factory-entered cars, Aston will also produce race-modified DB9s for sale to private teams. The cars will compete in International GT (Grand Touring) races, a classification that includes the Le Mans 24-hour race, a new international series of three 1000-kilometre (621 miles) races developed in association with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (the Le Mans organizers), and the American Le Mans series.
The racecar will be developed in association with British motor sport specialists Prodrive. Prodrive first came to prominence by preparing the Subaru rally cars whose international successes have done so much to change the image of the Japanese manufacturer's products. Since then it has been involved in a number of race programs for major manufacturers such as Honda. This year, it has been responsible for the preparation of a very successful team of Ferrari 550 Maranellos that have competed in the international GT Championship.
Dr. Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin's CEO, said: "Aston Martin is an exclusive brand, but we cannot be exclusive without being visible, and motor sport is a way to heighten our profile. Production-based sports car series are growing in stature with many leading manufacturers returning with their own factory programmes. By competing with them we can demonstrate that our cars are not only the best on the road, but also on the racing track.
"We are keen to see new regulations for 2004 that will allow true production-based sports cars to compete on a level playing field. The new rules from the Automobile Club de l'Ouest clearly provide this; we hope other sporting organizations will follow their route and encourage sports car racing to grow in importance and profile."
Competition in the GT class promises to be strong. Last September, Ferrari and Lamborghini unveiled contenders based on the 575 Maranello and Murcielago respectively. The works-backed Ferrari 575 GTC won on its first appearance, in Portugal last September.
With all three manufacturers providing cars for sale to independent teams, the GT category could return to the glory days of the 1950's and '60's, when long distance Grand Touring races were among the best spectacles in motor racing.
As yet, Aston has not announced a price for the racing version of the DB9. The production coupe, which goes on sale in the spring, is expected to have a list price of around $150,000.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....