Aston Martin returns to GT World Challenge Pro class with all-star Beechdean AMR driver line-up
In a return for the famous ‘Dane Train’ #95 Vantage, double FIA World Endurance GT champions Nicki Thiim (DEN) and Marco Sørensen (DEN) will partner up once again for a crack at the GTWC Endurance Cup title as well as target an overall win in the series’ crown jewel – the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Thiim already has a Spa 24H victory to his name, having won the Pro-Am class with TF Sport in 2019. They will be joined by another works driver and the winner of the 2016 event, Maxime Martin (BEL), who also claimed victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin in 2020.
In the Pro-Am Gold Cup, team principal, two-time British GT champion and 2016 European Le Mans Series title-winner Andrew Howard (GBR) makes a return to the international arena. Alongside him in the #97 Vantage GT3 and completing a strong line-up, is newly-confirmed Aston Martin works driver Valentin-Hasse Clot (FRA), and his 2020 GT4 European Silver Cup championship-winning team-mate Theo Nouet (FRA).
Hasse-Clot has extensive experience of Vantage, having been an ever-present in Aston Martin partner team line-ups since 2020 at both GT3 and GT4 level, and won the 2021 FFSA GT Silver Cup to add his GT4 European title the previous year. The 26-year-old Parisian also graduated top of class from Aston Martin’s coveted in-house AMR Academy in 2020, following in the footsteps of fellow champions Ross Gunn and Tom Canning.
Andrew Howard, Beechdean AMR team principal, said: “As Aston Martin Racing’s longest-serving partner team, Beechdean AMR has a proud track record of success with Vantage. For me personally, it’s a brand I have always regarded with a strong passion, and this deep emotional tie combined with the ambitions of our team have culminated in Beechdean AMR stepping into the GTWC Endurance Cup. This is the beginning of a new chapter, and together with the help and collaboration of Aston Martin, we intend to demonstrate the full potential of Vantage in the world’s most competitive GT series.”
The GTWC is very much unfinished business for Aston Martin, and while we have had competitive Pro entries in the series previously, for one reason or another, Vantage has not always enjoyed the success it deserves. With Beechdean AMR, and a superb driver line-up in both cars, we hope and expect to see a step forward in terms of consistent competitiveness and results. Beechdean AMR is our longest-serving partner and one we have always enjoyed close ties with, so we will of course support the team’s endeavours in any way that we can to ensure that Vantage establishes itself firmly as a competitive option in the world’s most highly-contested GT division.”
The five-round GTWC Endurance Cup begins this weekend with a three-hour race at Imola in Italy on 3 April, before moving on to the Paul Ricard 1000km race in the south of France on 5 June. The TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa follows on the weekend of 30-31 July. Germany’s Hockenheim has been added to the calendar for a three-hour race on 2-4 September before the traditional season finale at Barcelona on 2 October.
Sunday’s race begins at 1500 CET and can be followed via the gt-world-challenge.com website and the SRO’s official YouTube channel.
Maxime Martin, #95 Beechdean AMR, Aston Martin Vantage GT3: “I’m very excited to be back in the GTWC and to be pairing up with my old team-mates Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen from WEC. I think we have a really good line-up. The team is preparing well and things look very positive. This may be the first time we’ve had a full works line-up aligned with a good team in the GTWC and I think it is the time to show that the car is competitive. The championship is one the reference points for GT racing around the world, so if we can win there it shows how good the car is.”
Nicki Thiim, #95 Beechdean AMR, Aston Martin Vantage GT3: “GT World Challenge, Beechdean AMR, Marco Sørensen, Maxime Martin and Nicki Thiim – what a line-up! It’s great to see Andrew putting a lot of heart into this project. He has a great belief in Aston Martin and you can feel the spirit throughout the team. This is a great championship to get into – it is the strongest GT championship by far. As a pro-driver, I’m really looking forward to the challenge. And together with two insanely fast team-mates I can’t wait to get on with a season that includes the famous Spa 24 Hours.”
Marco Sørensen, #95 Beechdean AMR, Aston Martin Vantage GT3: “It’s great to be teaming up with Nicki again in the #95 Dane Train, as well as Maxime, and it feels good to be fighting in the top level of GT competition for Aston Martin. After Spa last year we know the Vantage has the potential to fight at the front and in Beechdean AMR we have a team that will be able to prepare it well and give us the chance to race for wins.”
Valentin Hasse-Clot, #97 Beechdean AMR, Aston Martin Vantage GT3: “Becoming an Aston Martin works driver is a life-changing opportunity for me. The career of a young driver is made of many sacrifices for very few moments of pure joy. The path was not easy until I found my way in 2019 with Aston Martin. Over three years of commitment with the manufacturer, I’ve had the chance to evolve in many championships, with different partner teams, to learn alongside amazing people, but above all to win my first titles. I would like to thank Aston Martin for having trusted me through the AMR Academy in 2020, then with the status of Junior driver in 2021, and now as a factory driver. Now the focus is on winning another title in GTWC with Beechdean AMR.”
Theo Nouet, #97 Beechdean AMR, Aston Martin Vantage GT3: “Making the step up to the Vantage GT3 is the next logical progression for me in my career. Having won the GT4 European title in the Vantage GT4 with Valentin, it feels great to be stepping into the bigger class with a car I know and trust alongside a driver I work well with. This is going to be a big year for Aston Martin in the GTWC and I'm really excited about being able to play a key role in this story with Beechdean AMR.”