Aston Martin ready 76th Le Mans 24 Hours
The Aston Martin Racing team has completed the warm up for this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, which gets underway at 3pm today.
The two Gulf liveried factory DBR9s – numbered 007 and 009 – will start from fifth and fourth respectively on the GT1 grid, following two qualifying sessions that took place on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.In addition to the factory entries, an Aston Martin-powered LMP1 prototype entered by Charouz Racing System will start from sixth overall on the grid, having set the fastest lap of all the petrol-powered cars during qualifying.
Two privately-entered DBR9s are also entered for the race, run by Team Modena and Vitaphone Racing. Team Modena's car, number 59, will start eighth on the GT1 grid, while the number 53 car of Vitaphone will start ninth.
Following the qualifying sessions, all the cars were comprehensively re-built yesterday in order to prepare them for the demands of what is arguably the world's most gruelling race.
This morning's 45-minute warm-up session was designed to bed in the new components and ensure that the cars are working as they should be prior to the start of the endurance classic. Nonetheless, David Brabham – who formed part of last year's GT1-winning crew – managed to set some quick laps in the region of 3m50s in the 009 car: only two seconds off the car's qualifying pace.
"The car felt really good," said Brabham. "I wasn't pushing hard at all, but it's clear that we've got a very nice race set-up, which is ideal. It's an amazing buzz to be back at the start of this race, and I can't wait to get started."
The Australian will not have to wait long, as he is down to take the start of the race at 3pm, before handing over to Antonio Garcia, then Darren Turner. In 007, Karl Wendlinger will start followed by Andrea Piccini and finally Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
Wendlinger, climbing out of the car after the warm-up, said: "The car felt exactly as I thought it would, which is good. The start at Le Mans though is not like taking the start of an ordinary race: obviously you do not want to lose positions if you don't have to, but it's mostly about getting away cleanly and making sure you get through the first few laps."