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by George Skentzos

While the economic downturn has seen many car makers ceasing their involvement in many motorsport activities, Aston Martin has defied global trends by announcing a return to the Le Mans Prototype 1 category.

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of its outright win at Le Mans, Aston Martin will race two Works LMP1 cars bearing the iconic blue and orange livery of Gulf Oil.

Honouring the legendary achievements of the 1959 DBR1 driving team of Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori, Aston Martin aims to return the Le Mans title to Britain.

“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. Nonetheless, I see this as a great opportunity to showcase the ingenuity of British engineering talent.” said Aston Martin Chairman, David Richards.

The new car is based on the 2008 Charouz Racing System Lola and will be powered by the same production-based Aston Martin V12 engine which powered the DBR9 to two successive GT1 titles.

Aston Martin Racing is developing the car in conjunction with Lola, Michelin, Koni and BBS and continues its relationship with major partner Gulf Oil and official clothing partner Hackett.

“Racing has been, and still is at the heart of Aston Martin. Our cars today are subtle, elegant and handcrafted but they still have the genes for competition. I am happy that we have found partners who, with their support, will enable us to compete at the highest level of endurance racing. We will put all our heart and skill behind this project to demonstrate the essence of Aston Martin: Power Beauty and Soul.” said Dr Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin Chief Executive Officer.

The prospect of entering LMP1 for 2009 is even more appealing with the ACO introducing new regulations aimed at balancing the performance of petrol and diesel engined prototypes.

To focus maximum energy on the LMP1 programme, the Works team will not defend its GT1 title at Le Mans. However, Aston Martin Racing will support any of its official partner teams and customers competing at the race.

The Le Mans 24 hour race will be held over the weekend of 13-14 June.




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