Photography. Nick Dimbleby
To call it eventful wouldn’t begin to describe what happened to Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage during the last seven hours of this year’s epic Nurburgring 24-Hour race.
After 17 hours of watching the near production V12 Vantage lap the Nurburgring in what was a faultless display of driving by sports car racers; Peter Cate, Oliver Mathai and journalist Richard Meaden and Chris Porritt, which had put the car in the lead of the SP8 class, a series of extraordinary events began to unfold.
The number six car was on the charge and pushing hard for a top twenty finish when catastrophe struck in the form of a damaged driveshaft. But that was only after Oliver Mathai took ill on reporting for driver duty, and Richard Meaden climbed into the driver’s seat and the car was back on track in less than 17 minutes.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it, with more drama to follow when the car was spotted on television half way around the Nordschleife, sitting stationary on the track.
After some quick and highly creative thinking, the Cygnet concept car, which was on display in the Paddock, was commandeered by three team members who found their way across the German countryside and on perimeter roads to the stranded V12 Vantage, which they frantically worked on to get the car back on the tarmac.
Chris Porritt hoped in the car and proceeded to drive at near qualifying speeds, to finally cross the finish line third in class and squarely on the podium.
It was a remarkable result, but no less than the second in class finish by a near showroom spec four-door Rapide.
There is absolutely no doubting the reliability of Aston Martin’s 6.0-litre V12 engine. The Rapide ran the race with minimal additions to what is essentially the same production car, which you would find on a London showroom floor. Naturally, the race car featured some weight saving measures; a standard production six-speed automatic gearbox, standard engine and the mandatory FIA approved safety modifications.
More success followed with a class win for car number 61, the Mathol Racing SP10 GT4 V8 Vantage, which finished 27th outright in what Aston Martin’s CEO Dr Ulrich Bez believes “…is the toughest race in the world”.