What will be left of the 2020 British national racing season?
The month of April is traditionally when the motor sport season gets into full swing. It’s when racing truly becomes the norm again at most given weekends. But it’s best…
The FIA World Endurance Championship takes a well-earned break after Le Mans so I haven’t been back in a race-spec Aston Martin for a few weeks, other than for a quick shakedown.
I have been behind the wheel of a very special Aston Martin, though. The Aston Martin Vulcan is an 800-plus bhp “hypercar” that has been developed purely for use on track. Aston Martin has taken the performance engineering from our racing cars, blended it with the finesse and styling of the road cars and produced one of the most stunning cars I have ever driven.
The Aston Martin Vulcan was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year and I’ve been involved from the start, working with the designers on interior layout, specifically the ergonomics of the cockpit. It has been amazing to be involved in a programme like this as it’s a very different viewpoint. In a racing car the interior is very basic – there is no room for bells and whistles or anything that will add weight to the car. The interior of Vulcan is nothing like a racing car; it’s more like a spaceship.
Now we’re getting down to the real detail throughout the car to make it as perfect as it can be. The power-to-weight ratio exceeds the Aston Martin Vantage GTE that we race in WEC so that should give you an idea of the performance of this car.
The first time the Aston Martin Vulcan turned a wheel was on the Wednesday before the Goodwood Festival of Speed. We took it to Turweston airfield near Silverstone, which is where we shakedown all of our racing cars. We then headed down to Goodwood where we ran for three days, putting on a bit of a display, making some noise with the 7.0-litre V12 engine, and making the Michelin tyres work extra hard.
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Since Goodwood we’ve tested for a couple of days at Snetterton and also at Ladoux – which is one of Michelin’s test centres in France – working with the Michelin engineers to get the right spec of tyres for the car. We tried lots of different tyres both in dry and wet conditions. I had a go on the full-on wet testing circuit and I just about managed to stay on! Remember this is a hypercar, not a road car… A normal race would have been red flagged way before it got as wet as the artificial one. We soon stopped and moved onto another (dry) circuit.
After Ladoux we got to go and do a few demonstration laps ahead of the start of the Spa 24 Hours. It rained, of course, but I got a real taste for how enjoyable this car is going to be and we gathered a lot of good data for the development programme.
There is a lot more testing to come before the first customers are introduced to the car in October. Only 24 Aston Martin Vulcans will be made and I’m absolutely sure we will have 24 very happy owners.
Our next WEC race is at the Nürburgring at the end of August. The team has been out there testing this week with two cars and, as ever, the development of the car continues so I’m looking forward to getting out on track in Germany. It should go well there as it’s a mix of medium- to high -peed corners. There are a couple of slow areas, but once you get past turn four the track will suit us well. I’ll go in and see the team next week to have a debrief and understand what has been done to the car and what they learned at the test so I can get my head into gear before the race.
I’ll tell you all about that in my next column!
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