From Bathurst to the DTM..
R Motorsport set are set to tackle the big guns in GT3 and DTM this year – and it’s a strong showing at our own Mount Panorama that has given them an early-season boost.
WORDS: Dale Rodgers (@DaleRodgers27) IMAGES: Andrew Hall / R-Motorsport / Supplied
The Liqui Moly Bathurst 1000 brings a wide range of international teams to Mount Panorama in larger numbers each year. For some it is an annual journey, for others, it is growing in stature as a ‘must do’ event.
Well-known names like Schnitzer BMW, Audi Sport Team WRT, Bentley Team M-Sport, Mercedes-AMG and Black Falcon have become regular arrivals boasting current generation GT3 cars piloted by some of the best sports car races in the world. The cream of Asian and local teams complement this field.
Emerging as one of the teams to watch is Swiss-based R Motorsport. The works aligned Aston Martin team has been to the Mountain in a ‘one year on – one year off’ program since 2013, however in 2019 armed with two Aston Martin Vantage GT3’s they made their most ambitious attempt.
Previous visits in 2013, 2015 and 2017, had delivered few highlights, but the learning and desire to conquer Mount Panorama has grown over time.
The background to the team is unique. Carrying the Aston Martin St. Gallen logos on the rear wing, the company behind the team is the only exclusive Aston Martin dealer base in Switzerland.
A superb HQ with sales, service, function facility and restaurant makes the St. Gallen base one of the most innovative car dealerships in the world. The two men behind it are not only entrepreneurs in their own rite, but competed in the recent Bathurst 12Hour in the Pro-Am #760 Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The #62 main entry in the Pro Class was arguably the surprise packet of the event with young Brit Jake Dennis claiming provisional Pole Position and repeating that performance in the Top 10 Shootout. Technical infringements would later see the car start in P12, but the team had clearly demonstrated that they had come to Bathurst in 2019 to win.
The Race Torque spoke to Team Principal and Co Owner Florian Kamelger about the lure of Mount Panorama and the teams move into the DTM with Aston Martin.
“This is our fourth time here. We did it in 2013, 15 and 17 with a GT4 car. In 2013 we started with a very small team. We brought four people here, so you can see it is a very passionate thing to come to the Mountain. Even in 2013 we knew we had to come here even though it costs a lot of money and it is a huge effort from Europe.” Kamelger commented.
“We came here on the Wednesday and the vibe is different from anywhere else we go. It is perfect. The people and the way the event is run is great. There is not much more you can say. It is a perfect event.” High praise indeed from the Aston Martin team principal.
Kamelger went on to comment on the performance of the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 saying that although it was the last race prior to the newly homologated car launching at the start of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series, the current car was still a very competitive package at Bathurst.
“Our V12 can be an advantage on long straights, but everyone knows that the car in terms of development, it is an old car. It is a good ‘lady’, but it is an old ‘lady’,” Kamelger said with a smile.
“But definitely at the top of the Mountain is the weak point because of the lack of aero compared to some of our newer rivals. So the team are looking into every little detail to try and find the speed and they are doing a great job.”
During the race Kamelger’s opinion of the car was accurate. The #62 Pro entry driven by Jake Dennis, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Marvin Kirchhoefer was never far from the lead. Only in the closing stages with an audacious passing move by Matt Campbell in the factory Porsche 911 GT3-R for the lead did the Aston finally have to settle for an outstanding second place.
The second entry of Kamelger / Baenziger struck early trouble in an altercation exiting the Chase but resumed after repairs. It was classified as a DNF completing 168 laps and losing many hours in the pits.
“Unfortunately, we had a bad smash with our second car in the ProAm category, car #760, which was without serious consequences for my friend and business partner Andreas, luckily for him and us! The car was pretty badly damaged, but our team had it ready to race again in less than five hours,” said Florian Kamelger, Team Principal at R-Motorsport
Remarkably the Pro Am cars fastest race lap was only ½ second slower than the Pro entry, showing just how competitive the two classes running under the Class A banner were.
With the team heading back to Europe, a launch for the new Aston Martin DTM car was in full planning mode. The British sports car manufacturer will replace Mercedes-Benz as the first non-German entry in 22 years, when Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo last entered the series under the International Touring Car Series name in 1996.
The 2019 championship will see the series introduce regulations known as ‘Class One’. These regulations will be shared between the DTM and the Japanese Super GT series’ GT500 class from 2020, allowing entries to compete in both championships.
“Our parent company behind R-Motorport has entered a joint venture with HWA. This partnership with the most successful DTM team ever, we knew that we could build a competitive program in this series. The short development time available to us is extremely demanding for our project team, which is controlled by Vynamic, the joint venture of AF Racing and HWA,” explains Florian Kamelger.
“And we’ve got everything moving so that the new Aston Martin Vantage DTM can celebrate its racetrack debut in the first week of March.”
The team launched a unique silhouette model of the car recently in Switzerland where MC David Coulthard introduced an impressive DTM driver line up of Paul Di Resta, Daniel Juncadella, Jake Dennis and Ferdinand Habsburg handed driving duties of the four R-Motorsport Aston Martin’s.
Commenting on his impression of the team’s appearance and prospects, David Coulthard said: “R-Motorsport’s DTM project is highly professional and the Aston Martin Vantage DTM cars are a great addition to the series. I see no reason why the team should not be competitive from the start.”
An ambitious program for an emerging team. One that gained a great deal of credibility with its GT3 performance at the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hour.