(continued from above)
This weekend marks the next step of an ambitious project which began when the
V12 Zagato was unveiled at the Concorso D'Eleganza at Villa D'Este in May this
year, winning the Design award for Concepts and Prototypes. The show car was
then transformed into the number 3 race car, nicknamed 'Zag' (red) and will be
piloted in the 24 hour race by Aston Martin CEO, Dr. Ulrich Bez, the company's
Nürburgring Test Centre Director, Wolfgang Schuhbauer and automotive journalists
Horst von Saurma and Matthew Marsh.
In addition, a green V12 Zagato
(nicknamed 'Zig') - car number 5 for the race - was prepared by the small team
based at Aston Martin's global headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire. Zig will be
driven by One-77 Chief Engineer Chris Porritt, experienced sports car driver
Oliver Mathai, automotive journalist Richard Meaden and experienced amateur
racer Peter Cate.
Joining the Zagatos will be a V8 Vantage GT4
affectionately nicknamed 'Smurf' (now orange but formally blue) which will be
driven by Aston Martin Racing works driver, Darren Turner, journalist and
experienced 24 hour driver, Shinichi Katsura, Australian racer Rob Thomson and
seasoned Nürburgring pilot Jurgen Stumpf.
Three further customer team V8
Vantages will be competing over the weekend bringing the Aston Martin presence
in the race up to six cars with Mathol Racing (#62), Bratke Motorsport Team -
AVIA (#85) and Team Pflanz (#75) driving Vantage GT4s in the SP10 class.
Aston Martin's Head of Motorsport, David King said: "Our entries this year
extend our Nürburgring racing philosophy. For five years now we have signed-off
our new products by entering a car which is as close to the road car as possible
and subjecting it to the toughest 24 hour test on what best simulates the
extremities of public roads. This year we go a step further by testing a car at
"As ever, the race will present an enormous challenge
in a vast and increasingly competitive field which will be fraught with all the
unpredictable elements associated with racing at the Nürburgring. However, we
are excited by the potential we have seen from the V12 Zagato in the testing
we've completed and that gives us great hope for the task ahead. We look forward
to a safe, successful and enjoyable race for our teams and customers."
Aston Martin's presence at the Nürburgring marks the sixth successive time
factory engineers complete a product sign-off test in what has been dubbed 'the
toughest 24 hour race' under public scrutiny. Since 2006, the marque has used
the race to prove the reliability and durability of its new models - first for
V8 Vantage itself, then the new SportshiftTM transmission in 2007, the 4.7 litre
engine V8 Vantage in 2008, the V12 Vantage in 2009, the four-door Rapide in
2010, and now, rather more ambitiously, for the first major test of a new
concept car - the Aston Martin V12 Zagato.
In addition to this year's
race, Aston Martin's American team has joined forces with Road & Track magazine
to run a standard road specification Rapide at Spring Mountain Motor Sports
Ranch in the USA for the same 24 hours as the European team at the Nürburgring.
The endurance test echoes last year's Nordschleife attempt where a near standard
four-door Rapide with a production six-speed automatic transmission successfully
completed the 24 hour race, finishing third in class.
At the Nürburgring
the roofs of both V12 Zagatos will be sporting a 'Heart for Japan' dedication as
part of Aston Martin's support for the Tsunami victims of Japan. In May, Dr. Bez
auctioned his company Rapide raising 100,000 GBP ($158,000). During the build up
to this year's 24 hours Dr. Bez will hand the cheque to Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda
and their Donation Fund for Employees in the Affected Disaster Area charity.
The 39th ADAC Nürburgring 24 Hour race starts at 4 PM CET (that's 10 PM EDT)
on Saturday 25 June.