There isn’t a whole lot of difference between an Aston Martin GT4 racer and the V8 Vantage that sits on the showroom floor in your local Aston Martin dealership.
It’s called the Vantage GT4, and it looks decidedly similar to the 4.7-litre V8 Vantage road car. That said if you look closely enough, you can see that the GT4 takes it takes its cue not from the V8, but from the supercar specced 6.0-litre V12 Vantage road car.
That’s due mostly to the more extensive aerodynamic package developed for the 300km/h plus V12 although, the GT4 is still powered by the race proven V8 powertrain.
It’s no secret that Aston Martin CEO, Dr Ulrich and several of his engineering team like to go racing in cars that very closely resemble Aston Martin road going siblings, right down to almost stock engines and transmissions. Dr Bez firmly believes that there is simply no better place to test his car’s reliability and durability than at the racetrack. Even better, if it’s the punishing Nurburgring 24-hour race, where they have been class winners on more than a few occasions.
Taking the aero package from the V12 Vantage, means that the GT4 car gets more downforce, but at the same time, there is no increase in the drag co-efficient of the car. That’s testament to just how good the standard setup is on the V12 Vantage road car.
When I said closely resembles the V8 Vantage road car, I mean the aluminium chassis, base engine and suspension design are carried over. Naturally, there are all the usual upgrades that are necessary for competitive circuit racing, such as engine re-mapping and aero wings, but on the whole, this is as close as it gets to the road car version.
For 2011, the Vantage GT4 comes with either a paddle-shifting Sportshift or 6-speed manual gearbox, with a twin-plate competition clutch and limited-slip differential.
It’s all about weight-loss with the GT4, and that includes things like a lightweight battery, reduced weight wiring harness, Polycarbonate side and rear windows and lightweight door casings. Even the facia is weight-reduced, but it’s still lined in the luxury material, Alcantara.
It seems that quite a few well-heeled punters have the 100,000 pounds for a brand new Vantage GT4, with no less than 80 cars already sold, and a thriving one make race series in Europe that should see around 20 cars line up on the grid this year.
Aston Martin is big on road derived racing cars, and remains the only manufacturer to offer cars for every current GT class - that’s LMP1, GT1, GT2, GT3 and GT4.
Anyone that’s had the pleasure of watching the hugely exciting GT1 championship on Foxtel, would have seen the super consistent DBR9 clinch the coveted GT1 SRO trophy for manufactures in 2010 against some hard charging from the likes of Maserati, Nissan, Corvette, Lamborghini, and a couple of fast moving Ford GT40s.
It seems that more and more manufacturers are looking to develop race car versions of road going sports cars, as this year should see track versions of both a BMW Alpina and Lexus LFA line up on the grid.
That said few racers will ever look as good as what comes out of an Aston Martin factory.