ASTON Martin will launch a factory-backed assault on the 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour, with the company’s boss one of the drivers.
Wheels can exclusively reveal that Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer will campaign a single car at next year’s event alongside one of Aston Martin’s factory GT3 drivers. A local recruit, as yet unnamed, is also likely to join the Aston line-up.
“I’m planning on racing in it [the 12 Hour] next year,” Palmer told Wheels at the Geneva Motor Show. “I’m personally going to be driving, and I don’t believe we’ve publically announced it. Well, until now.
“For me it has always been one of those dreams to go and race at Bathurst and now there’s an opportunity to go and do it next year.”
Palmer confirmed he has already started assembling a team for the event, with the single car to have full factory support. The car in question will be an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, prepped to either GT3 or GT4 spec.
He ruled out racing the brand’s new DB11, shown at the Geneva show, saying Vantage would remain the British brand’s racing car of choice. Aston recently revealed its new V8 Vantage GTE (pictured), which will contest this year’s World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans. There it will challenge the likes of Porsche, Ford and Ferrari for class honours.
“It’ll be a factory team,” said Palmer. “I don’t think we’ll team up with any local teams. We may bring in a local driver but we’ll work that out. We’ve started to put a team together.
“We’ll find a good Aussie to help us along; there are plenty of them.”
As for who else will fill the driver’s seat alongside Palmer, a factory Aston driver is the logical choice. Interestingly, New Zealander Richie Stanaway is one of the drivers on Aston’s roster.
Palmer has no illusions of winning the event, revealing he’s setting himself realistic expectations. He does, however, have previous GT racing experience, having campaigned an Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 in last year’s Britcar 24 Hour race at Silverstone.
“I’m not going there [to Bathurst] for outright honours, I’m going to survive!” he said. “We’re going there for the experience.”
Next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour won’t be the first factory excursion that Aston Martin has made to the home of Australian motorsport. Several Wheels readers reported in mid-February that an Aston Martin DB11 development prototype sent here for testing had visited the track for a recce.