Feb 28, 2024, 09:31 AM

Vantage GT3 ready for FIA WEC debut in Qatar as LMGT3 heralds a new dawn for World Championship GT racing

  • New Vantage GT3 ready for FIA World Endurance Championship debut
  • Aston Martin one of nine manufacturers in strongest-ever GT class
  • D’station Racing and Heart of Racing represent Aston Martin on world stage
  • Eight races on four continents showcase the best of GT racing globally
  • Triple world champion Marco Sørensen spearheads D’station Racing line-up

Wednesday, 28 February, 2024, Doha: A brand-new chapter in Aston Martin’s illustrious racing story begins this weekend as the new Vantage GT3 makes its FIA World Endurance Championship debut in the Qatar 1812 KM at the Lusail International Circuit.

Aston Martin is among nine of the world’s most prestigious sportscar manufacturers contesting the FIA WEC’s new-for-2024 GT racing category – featuring FIA homologated GT3 cars for the first time in the history of the series. It is in this new class, named LMGT3, that the Vantage GT3 will tackle some of the world’s most iconic sportscar endurance races on four continents, including six-hour races at both Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) and Fuji (JAP) and the series centrepiece event, the globally-celebrated 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA), first held 101 years ago, in mid-June.

The new Vantage GT3 descends from a succession of multiple world championship-winning predecessors and shares the mechanical architecture with the new ultra-luxury Vantage road car, unveiled earlier this month. Built around Aston Martin’s proven bonded aluminium chassis and powered by its fearsome twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine, the Vantage GT3 features an all-new nose-to-tail aerodynamic package, comprehensively revised suspension and state-of-the-art electronics, endowing this latest-generation Aston Martin GT racer with world-beating potential.

Beating the world and adding to Vantage’s impressive tally of 11 World Championship titles is exactly the target for Aston Martin partner teams D’station Racing and Heart of Racing, which will carry the British manufacturer’s hopes in LMGT3, which is replacing LMGTE Am as the lone class for GT racing cars in the FIA WEC.

It’s not just the category and car that are new within the Vantage family in 2024. D’station Racing fields a heavily-revised line-up for the new season as Tomonobu Fujii (JAP) – a cornerstone of the Japanese’s team’s roster since 2021 – steps away from driving duties to focus on his role as Managing Director and Team Principal Satoshi Hoshino (JAP) plans to contest Le Mans in June only.

Instead, Aston Martin works driver Marco Sørensen (DEN), a three-time FIA World Endurance Champion, heads the line-up and will be partnered by Erwan Bastard (FRA), a title-winner in both the GT4 European and GT4 France series. With the exception of Le Mans, the third driver will be Clément Mateu (FRA), Pro-Am class winner at the 2020 24 Hours of Spa.

Heart of Racing is taking part in its first full WEC season, having joined the series in Round 3 of 2023. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class title-winning outfit realised a long-held ambition by contesting the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time last year and ended its campaign with a maiden podium finish at the 8 Hours of Bahrain.The US-based outfit features an unchanged line-up from 2023 with team principal Ian James (GBR) partnered by Daniel Mancinelli (ITA) and Alex Riberas (ESP) and had the honour of giving  the Vantage GT3 its competition debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, in which it finished a highly-creditable fourth in the GTD Pro category.

Aston Martin has been represented by Vantage in every WEC season to date since the series began in 2012 and will again be fighting for glory when the lights go out to begin the 2024 campaign at Lusail. After Qatar the WEC heads back to Europe for six-hour events at Imola (ITA) and Spa-Francorchamps (BEL) as it builds towards the biggest race in the world; the 24 Hours of Le Mans, France, on June 15-16.

The second half of the season features four races on three continents as Interlagos (BRA), COTA (USA) and Fuji (JAP) all play host to six-hour races. The now traditional season finale; the 8 Hours of Bahrain, is scheduled for November 2.

Adam Carter, Aston Martin Head of Endurance Motorsport said: “A world championship debut of any racing car is a very special occasion, and the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is very special racing car. Born from a bloodline of successful predecessors we have high expectations for the latest generation Vantage, and we will do everything within our gift to support D’station Racing and the Heart of Racing in their quest for success both in WEC and at Le Mans this season. As with any new racing car, we are at the beginning of a steep learning curve, but we are coming from a title-winning platform and we’ve drawn from all we have learned over the past years to deliver a product that is vastly improved in all areas. Now we go into the ultimate testing environment against the very best the GT manufacturers in the world. It’s an exciting prospect and we cannot wait to get started.”

Official practice for the Qatar 1812KM begins on Thursday, 29 February at 1220 local time (0920 GMT) with the race beginning at 1100 (0800 GMT) on Saturday. Follow details of the event via the official WEC website and App.