Aston Martin unveils works LMP1 plan

Aston Martin has confirmed plans to take on Peugeot and Audi in a bid for outright victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours this season

Aston Martin unveils works LMP1 plan

The British manufacturer is to develop a V12-powered LMP1 car, which will be based on the 2008 Charouz Racing-run Lola that used the engine last year, but featuring significant aerodynamic re-profiling as well as some of the marque's styling cues.

The Aston Martin Racing-run cars, which have yet to be given an official codename, will be petrol-powered and carry the famous Gulf livery.

They are expected to make their first public appearance at a test in Paul Ricard on March 8, and will make their racing debuts in the Le Mans Series round at Catalunya on April 5, ahead of the 24 Hours in June.

Although Peugeot and Audi are clear favourites for Le Mans victory next year, a raft of changes to technical regulations to even up the performance of diesel and petrol powered cars should boost Aston Martin's chances of taking on the established front runners.

Aston Martin chairman David Richards admitted that the company's sights were set on victory, with this year marking the 50th anniversary of his company's only previous triumph in the event.

"How on earth did we get here? How could Aston Martin be so audacious as to go to Le Mans and challenge the benchmark teams with their turbo-diesel engines and the record of experience that they have had over the last years?" said Richards.

"2009 is a hugely significant year for Aston Martin at Le Mans and the challenge of reclaiming victory in this famous race for Aston Martin and Great Britain was simply too great to ignore. It's a leap of faith and a step into the unknown for us, it really is a David and Goliath exercise, but it is that British fighting spirit that we are going to give it a try and see what we can do.

"However, we do not underestimate the task. While we have won the GT1 class for the last two years, competing against the proven speed and endurance of the diesel-powered cars, with all their years of winning the prototype class, will be a massive undertaking. But one thing is for certain that unless you give it a go, you are not going to achieve anything."

The Charouz driving squad of Stefan Mucke, Jan Charouz and Tomas Enge will be retained by Aston Martin Racing for the Le Mans effort and a full LMS campaign.

The trio will also be joined by Briton Darren Turner, who has won the GT1 class with Aston Martin Racing for the last two years, and Harold Primat. A sixth driver is expected to be announced shortly.

Richards added that AMR have filed three entries for the 24 Hours, but that plans for a third car are far from finalised.

"We have the first test at Paul Ricard at the beginning of March, we will enter two cars in each of the Le Mans rounds, and we will have a test programme throughout the year," he said.

"There is the hope that we will run a third car at Le Mans, and we have actually entered three cars, but the third car is not yet a certainty."

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