A Day With Aston Martin Racing
The Editor had a marvellous day away from his desk today (November
23), thanks to the kindness of James Turner, Sarah Durose, Sadie
Wigglesworth, Shanna Wells and everyone else at Aston Martin Racing.
Was the highlight a trip round the Club Circuit
at Silverstone - or driving a DBR9 on the road, complete with the
forecast predicted terrible weather, but it didn’t turn out
like that at all. Approximately 25 guests assembled at Prodrive’s
base beside the M40 at 10.15, for a quick introduction from Commercial
Director James Turner and Pedro Lamy – and then a quick tour
of some of the Prodrive workshops.
one ‘shop were a pair of DBR9s (one of them, above) under
construction – next to three V8 Vantage Rally GTs (this is
the first, right) that will be performing in the Race of Champions
very soon, at the Stade de France in Paris.
Next door were
a couple of DBRS9s being built (below) – which was the cue
to hurry away from Banbury and head south and east to a blowy Silverstone.
The track was still wet in places after overnight rain, and Pedro
Lamy headed out to warm up the car and its wet tyres.
MC was the first
man into the passenger seat – and enjoyed every single moment
of three laps of the Club Circuit. This wasn’t the raw aggression
of one or two of the vehicles I’ve been lucky enough to have
been chauffeured round race tracks in – but the DBRS9 was
hardly docile either.
Pedro got the
tail sliding out nicely, out of Luffield in particular. As with
any race car, the brakes were superb: steel ones of course on the
GT3. The highest speed I saw on the digital dash was 214 kph just
before the braking point into Copse.
It was immense fun. Every one else who climbed out
of the right hand side of the black beast was also beaming from
ear to ear. It really was the sort of car that even the utterly
incompetent, like myself, felt as though they really could have
lapped competently in, with some suitable instruction.
Incidentally, this chassis was the first of the
DBRS9s, the one unveiled at Le Mans in 2005 – when everyone
was puzzled by the fact that the likes of Dave Richards and Graham
Humphrys couldn’t tell us what class it was being built for.
it’s been designed to fill a hole that we think is there,”
explained Humphrys - here.
That hole was
neatly filled by the FIA GT3 regulations.
Lunch in the BRDC Clubhouse was excellent –
and Pedro Lamy seemed to have got down to 61 second laps as the
Then it was a chance to drive two cars from the
Aston Martin road car range: the V12 DB9 and the V8 Vantage.
pleasant surprise was to find that my passenger in the DB9 was former
British GT racer Chris Ward – who has been racing the Bicknell
in Britsports this year, with considerable success, but will have
a 2007 version of this unique car to play with soon, and the VdeV
is the chosen series for that one. Chris would of course like to
race this car (right).
job wasn’t too instruct me – more to persuade me to
go faster. Part of the route took us to a swooping, deserted country
road, and that was a chance to give it plenty of right foot. The
V12 is extraordinary in the way it will pull away from as slow as
13 mph (I made that 600 or so revs from a quick glance at the dials)
in fifth gear. It was almost like driving an automatic, if that’s
what you wanted.
The big DB9
was extraordinarily easy to place on the road, despite its size.
Buckingham town centre is very tight, with a couple of awkward little
roundabouts, with narrow pavements next to the narrow tarmac –
but placing the car never required a second thought. I’ve
never found that in large cars before.
VW racer Andy
Burgess (that's him on the left, with Chris Ward, in front of the
DB9) accompanied me on the way back to Silverstone, in a V8 Vantage.
Now this was quick enough, for me. Past 4,000 revs and the exhaust
growled impressively. It wasn’t massively fast, and I liked
that. The DB9 was really too fast for me: I felt as though I was
just nibbling at the surface of it. Was it saying “Where’s
Lamy?” to me? Or “Put your foot down you pansy!”
– speed cameras, lots of traffic, and a low sun in your eyes
today – may not be the ideal location for either of these
cars, but as Sarah Durose pointed out, “they’re Aston
Martins, you don’t need to rush – they’ve got
a presence anyway”.
presence” is something that all three cars had in abundance.
Here's the complete line-up of road cars at the circuit today. Which
one would you like?