Aston Martin unveils 2009 Le Mans challenger

Published: 27 January 2009

Those plucky Brits. This is Aston Martin’s new petrol-powered LMP1 Le Mans contender, designed to take on the diesel might of Peugeot's 908 and Audi's new R15. Aston is aiming for the overall win at the legendary 24-hour race on 13-14 June 2009, 50 years after Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori drove a DBR1 to victory.

It’s good to see the orange and eggshell blue Gulf Oil colours back, but just what is this new Aston Martin?

Aston’s new LMP1 car is based on the Lola-developed 2008 Charouz Racing Aston Martin that came ninth at Le Mans in 2008. For '09 the car has been further tweaked with help from Lola, Michelin, Koni and BBS. Power comes from a 6.0-litre V12 producing around 600bhp.

So it can concentrate on the overall Le Mans title, Aston won't campaign a factory-backed DBR9 in the GT1 category. Instead it will support privateer GT1 teams and a possible new GT2 team running a V8 Vantage.

Before Le Mans proper, Aston will compete in the Le Mans Series, starting with the 1000km de Catalunya on 5 April 2009. Jan Charouz, Tomas Enge and Stefan Mücke, who campaigned the Charouz car in 2008, will continue to race for the team, while Brit Darren Turner (he of CAR's Performance Car of the Year 2008 fame) will step up from the GT1 team to be joined by Harold Primat. A sixth driver will be announced shortly.

'2009 is a hugely significant year for Aston Martin at Le Mans and the challenge of reclaiming victory in this famous race for Aston Martin and Great Britain was simply too great to ignore,' said Aston Martin chairman David Richards. 'However, we do not underestimate the task. While we have won the GT1 class for the last two years, competing against the proven speed and endurance of the diesel-powered cars with all their years of winning the prototype class, will be a massive undertaking. Nonetheless, I see this as a great opportunity to showcase the ingenuity of British engineering talent.'

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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