Aston Martin ran one-two in the GTE Pro field all day in difficult conditions with the sister car, No. 97, driven by Maxime Martin (BEL) and Alex Lynn (GB) also leading at different stages of the race. With an hour to go there was a possibility of a sweep at the top of the podium, but earlier in the race the team had chosen to split the two cars’ strategy to optimise its chances for victory. This meant that the No. 97 car had to change to its final set of wet tires earlier than the No. 95 car for the final stint, leaving them struggling for grip when a further rain shower came at the end of the race and they finished fourth.
“It was definitely a long race in very difficult conditions,” said Sørensen afterwards. “We are super happy that we got the first win for the new car; in fact it was so quick today that it seemed we were almost fighting for the overall victory! The team has worked so hard and it has been a challenging start to the Super Season, so it feels great to finish 2018 with a win and go into the winter focussed on optimising the car even more before Sebring next year.”
Thiim added “It’s been a huge learning curve for the team with this new Vantage GTE and to be standing here on top of the podium after all the work we’ve put in is a really emotional feeling. The whole team delivered today. We had the most competitive car, the strategy was spot on and everyone worked perfectly together to bring this result. I’m super-proud not only to be a part of the Aston Martin family but to be able to help deliver the first win for the Aston Martin Vantage GTE. It’s been one chaotic race, but the end of it has produced the perfect result!”
“Obviously it is great for us to record the first victory for the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE,” said Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw. “It took Porsche 15 attempts to win with their brand new GTE car and we’ve managed it after just four! It was maybe the most complicated race there has been in the FIA WEC. It was also one of the most competitive GTE Pro races – outside of Le Mans – because there were 11 cars in the class; which was a first. It was also a big boost for us to know that we were on exactly the same Michelin tyre as our immediate competition and today we had the fastest car. I’m delighted for everyone but I feel a bit sorry for the #97 crew who also drove extremely well. We decided this weekend to ensure that we didn’t have both cars on the same strategy to stay in contention at all times because we were going for the win. This actually put the #95 on a sub-optimal strategy initially, but it meant the No. 97 had to run a full stint on worn wets at the end of the race.”
The next round of the championship, the 1000 Miles of Sebring in the USA, takes place on Sunday, March 15, 2019.