Aston Martin Eyeing Grand-Am
While GRAND-AM has seen new cars from Ferrari and Audi grace the Rolex Sports Car Series grid this year, another high-profile manufacturer could be joining the GT ranks with its GT3-based contender as early as next year.
Aston Martin is currently evaluating the possibility of its new V12 Vantage GT3 for the highly competitive production-based category, while also not ruling out an effort in Daytona Prototype, either as an engine supplier or with brand-specific bodywork as well.
“We definitely want to get more into racing in America,” Aston Martin Racing team principal John Gaw said in a SPEED.com exclusive interview. “We have great products across all the range: the GTE, the GT4 and the GT3.
“We're starting off quietly and slowly with the GT4 GRAND-AM car. It's doing pretty well. It's been on the front row and [finished on the podium]. We're pretty happy with it.
“Now that we know the spec of that car, we can easily do a [Rolex Series] GT class car. We're now talking to some people about doing that.”
Multimatic Motorsports debuted Aston Martin’s GT4-based Vantage in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge earlier this year, with the V8-powered beast having already shown promising pace in the first four races of the season for the factory supported development program.
Gaw says adapting the V12 Vantage, a new-for-2012 GT3-spec car, to Rolex Series competition would mainly entail a thicker roll cage and revised fuel cell placement, modifications that have already been made to the GT4 car for its eligibility in the Continental GS category.
While the green light has not yet been given, Gaw says there’s more than a 50 percent chance of it happening for next year.
“We just need the right customer to agree with us and we're ready to do the program,” he said. “It probably would be a continuation with Multimatic. They're great partners and have done a good job with us. We're looking to expand the work they're doing for us, so why not?”
Another program currently under evaluation is a leap into Daytona Prototype competition, with custom bodywork and/or customer engine program.
The manufacturers’ 4.5-liter normally aspirated V8, currently used in its GTE-class Vantage, would be the powerplant of choice, which also fits into the cost-capped ACO LMP2 regulations, another option Gaw said they’re exploring.
“The DP is not a specific objective of ours, but there are some customers interested,” Gaw said. “If it works commercially for the customers and doesn't detract from the main program, why not? There are two options, one just being an engine with a current chassis or a new body kit as well.”
While Gaw would not completely rule out a potential move into DP for next year, he said that project would likely be geared more towards 2014, if the right partners are found.