Aston Martin has shown off the new race-spec version of its Rapide sports saloon. It's bound to make its competition debut at the 24-hour race at the Nurburgring on 15-16 May 2010.
The Rapide will be driven by Aston CEO Ulrich Bez, who has a history of competing at the Nordschleife in his part-time role as a gentleman racer. It's in virtually road-car spec, upgraded merely to strip out weight (bye bye snug rear seats), retune the suspension and meet FIA race rules with cut-out, cages and fire extinguishers. Slick tyres are fitted too to help this four-door grip like a limpet.0Dr Bez's pet project
Bez explained the rationale behind entering a saloon into the gruelling 24-hour race in Germany. 'This race represents the ultimate final engineering durability test for any sports car – it subjects the car to the toughest possible assessment under public scrutiny,' he said.
'The Rapide has the capability to carry four people in comfort but first and foremost it is a sports car and we will subject it to the same tests we would our other sports cars. We already have a proven track record at the Nurburgring, racing our road cars with limited modification and in recent years we have enjoyed success in winning the SP8 class both in 2008 and 2009.'Seems a strange choice of race car... why not enter a Vantage again?
Good point! Gaydon will enter a V12 Vantage at the Nurburgring event. The coupé won its SP8 class in 2009's race debut and finished 21st overall.
Is entering a Rapide merely a gimmick? Probably. But the Nordschleife race is a usefully low-cost billboard to announce the arrival of its first four-door for a generation – and will attract some useful publicity on television and among enthusiasts worldwide.
The first customer Rapides land in Aston's 125 showrooms worldwide later in April 2010.