Matters of moment, September 2004

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Aston Martin’s Le Mans attack

Aston Martin will make a return to Le Mans next year for its first crack at the 24-hour race in 15 years.

The DBR9, a racing version of the DB9 road car, is being developed by Prodrive and will then be supplied to three teams, which will each run two cars in racing programmes that are likely to include the FIA GT series as well as Le Mans. All the teams will operate with the full support of Aston Martin Racing.

“It’s a really big deal,” said a spokesperson for AM. “We are returning to our racing roots and are building on our heritage. All of our competitors have racing programmes. This is a long-term project.”

A limited number of DBR9s will also be available to selected customers, and a presence in North America seems highly probable.

Jeremy Main, director of motorsport for Aston Martin, said: “The design of the DB9 lends itself to be translated perfectly into the DBR9.”

The marque last tackled Le Mans in 1989 when Brian Redman led the team that took the Group C AMR1 to 11th place.

******

Final Goodwood Revival pieces slotted into place

Ex-Renault and Ferrari GP star René Arnoux will make his Revival debut at Goodwood next month. The Frenchman has been a regular visitor to the Festival of Speed, and now the organisers are planning to place him in cars for the TT Celebration race and Saturday’s heat of the St Mary’s saloon car encounter.

Win Percy will also be competing in the latter race having had his first taste of the hand controls fitted to Leo Voyazides’ Jaguar Mk1 (left). Win was typically modest about his efforts, explaining that he was having some difficulties with downchanges, but came past the pits nicely ‘on the pipe’.

It has also been confirmed that the Cooper that changed Indy for ever in 1962 (right) will take part in Jack Brabham tributes on both days.

******

How L’Ouest was won

Victory at Le Mans brings glory that no other race can match. Forty-five years ago Aston Martin’s long campaign finally brought that victory — and within weeks, the sportscar world title as well.

Aston’s weapon was the DBR I — low, mean and muscular. And, with three racing seasons behind it, a proven race winner. Three victories in the Nürburgring 1000Km confirmed its speed and reliability as the three-car Feltham team headed for Le Mans in 1959. Team boss John Wyer gave Stirling Moss a faster but more fragile engine, hoping to break the Ferrari threat, and sure enough two Testarossas expired before the ‘hare’ broke. After a tense morning trading the lead between Maranello and Feltham, the DBR1 of Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby carried off the biggest prize in sportscar racing. And a third victory, in the TT at Goodwood, ousted Ferrari and brought the title back to Britain.

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