In November last year, Aston Martin launched not one but two new Vantage cars.
On the same day that it pulled the covers off its new sports car, it also unveiled the Vantage GTE, the racing version that will tackle this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Launching the cars together wasn’t just symbolic: it was a sign of their entwined development. While Aston Martin’s development team at Gaydon crafted the road-going Vantage, the Prodrive-run Aston Martin Racing (AMR) in Banbury was working on the track version.
The previous-generation Vantage V8 GTE, which ended its Le Mans career with a class victory in 2017, was essentially a compromised design. The team had taken an existing road car and done their best to make a GT racer out of it. Launched in 2012, it was an evolution of the old Vantage GT2 racer that dated from 2008, which was in turn based on the road car launched in 2005.
Since then, the face of the GTE class has changed. Rival cars – most notably the Ford GT – have subverted the rules by essentially being developed in reverse: design the racing car first and then make a road-going version to satisfy the rules.