President of Aston Martin Racing David King, speaking ahead of Round Four of the FIA World Endurance Championship, has indicated that the Gaydon-based manufacturer is pleased with the reception of the new Vantage GT3 and is looking to develop the brand in the key North American market.
“We’re deep into the customer testing now and have lots of orders,” said David King. “GT3 is a very competitive market place. There are lots of good offerings from all the manufacturers but I think there’s something special about racing an Aston. It’s a competitive car and good value for money. The outgoing car, the V12, is a fan favourite but I think the new car will be very exciting. The art of developing a GT3 car is to make it useable for the gentleman driver and still suit the professional driver as well. I think we’ve hit that sweet spot.”
The recent announcements by the SRO Motorsports Group concerning the development of the World Challenge in North America has offered Aston Martin an additional platform to present its products and David King is looking to take full advantage of the opportunity, as well as explore other US-based series .
“We aren’t fully exploiting the opportunities in North America yet and it’s no secret to say we are actively seeking a partner in North America to work alongside the Prodrive AMR team to help with the distribution and support of customer cars,” said David King. “Ideally as well (to offer support) to get an IMSA programme running for us. I’m talking about an aspiration rather than a plan at the moment but, yes, we’d like to race in GTLM in IMSA. It’s a massive market and a fantastic series and we’re not there yet.”
In addition to its presence in the British GT Championship and the Blancpain GT Series, Aston Martin would like to increase its presence in other European championships but not before the new GT3 car has been proven with customer teams in its existing markets.
“It’s more important in the first year that we don’t flood the market with cars when we’re not quite ready,” said King. “We want to place GT3 cars with a few key customer teams so they can go out and demonstrate how good the car is for us and then we can sell more in the second and third year. It’s about quality rather than quantity in GT3 in the first year. We need to see some strong teams running in Blancpain Endurance and British GT. ADAC GT Masters in Germany is important – we haven’t been represented there at all for a few years so we’d like to get a strong partner team in Germany as well.”
The new Aston Martin GT4 was presented at Le Mans this year but is not quite as far advanced in development as its sister GT3 car.
“The new GT4 is in development at the moment based on the new V8 Vantage and we’re not quite doing customer drives yet but we’ll be doing so fairly soon,” said David King. “GT4 is a massive market for us and it’s a very good way to link our road-car customers to racing and as an intro to racing and track days as well. We were first in to GT4 back in 2007 when SRO launched it so we’ve seen it grow and flourish. We’ll continue to play a big part in that.”