This year’s 6 hour race at Silverstone was very highly anticipated in my house.
Last year had left both my friend and me with a hunger for more and going to Prologue most certainly hightened the excitement. Our team – Aston Martin Racing – has new cars (well, the GTE Pro cars are new) and everything points to an exciting season.
We both managed to get the Friday off, so we took off quite early on Friday both very much looking forward to what promised to be an exciting weekend. Oh, how right we were…
With the race being on Sunday most people don’t bother showing up until then. Fridays are therefore very relaxed and rather quiet. This is a good thing from a spectator’s point of view, because you have plenty of time for driver spotting (always good fun!), having a chat with the people who sell the Aston Martin merchandise (and who happen to remember you “from last year”) and having a look at the Aston Martins brought in by Aston Martin Works.
Little did we know that Andy Palmer, Aston Martin’s CEO, was also at Silverstone. He was there to present the Aston Martin Vantage GT8 to the world. I am still not sure the world is ready.
Let’s face it: this is, in fact, an Aston Martin race car in the nude. And boy, is she sexy with all her stickers off!
For Saturday the weather forecast was, among others, snow. I have to admit I do not believe in the weather forecasts, but I may have to change my tune. We did indeed get snow. And this meant that FP3 was cancelled, or rather red flagged, because it had already started.
We all know snow can make everything look rather magical and christmassy and Silverstone is no different. It looks quite nice. It is also very cold, wet and gets in the way of racing. Needless to say I was not impressed.
Qualification did go ahead almost as planned, but unfortunately the result for the three Aston Martin Racing cars was not what we had hoped for. On the other hand, we have complete faith in the team and the drivers, so anything was possible as far as we were concerned.
Snow at Silverstone in April.
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We didn’t stay as long as we could, or maybe even should, have. It was just too cold and windy.
Thankfully Sunday looked a bit better, but the wind still made it rather chilly. No problem, though. A good race warms up any motorsport fan.
Again, we arrived rather early. After all, we had pit walk tickets and you do want to get in that queue as early as you can. This is not only good for getting in quickly, but you also meet up with other fans. Races are most certainly social events.
(We later found out we had made it on to television.)
I have done a few pit walks now and I really enjoy them. If you want to collect those all important driver autographs you do need to relatively early so you can get to the relevant box(es) as soon as possible. Outside of that you can just have a leisurely stroll while having a look at the cars and last minute work being done.
My friend and I are both fans of Bruno Senna, so we were happy to hear that he was going to be driving for RGR Sport. We had already spoken to all three drivers of the #43 car in France during Prologue. They are a very nice and enthusiastic bunch. No surprise to find they are already quite popular with the fans – next to the fact they race elsewhere as well and are therefore already known to quite a few people.
I had fully intended to walk around more than I had last year at both Silverstone and Nürburgring. But then the race happened.
It was once again a great race from start to finish and I didn’t dare leave my spot, afraid I’d miss something. WEC has a lot of close racing, a lot of near misses, the odd crash and ever changing strategies. It is nailbitingly exciting.
There were 7,000 visitors more than last year. I am very happy to see the enthusiasm for WEC on the rise. It is a great race, but that is not all. It is a social event, it is a day (or two, or three) out – with the family if you wish.
For me it is most of all a moment to share my pride for Aston Martin Racing (and the company as well) with other race fans and the team.
The Aston Martin cars did recover from their poor qualification results. Well, two of them. Unfortunately the #97 car did not finish due to a technical issue. The #98 car (in the LMGTE Am class) finished second and the #95 (in the LMGTE Pro class) came in third.
Oh, let’s not forget RGR Sports!
They had a great start and most of the race they were running very comfortably (it looked comfortable from the stands) in first position. And that is where they finished.
Brilliant start for the new team.
Even though the season looked promising before Silverstone – with a new car and very enthusiastic Aston Martin drivers – it is very clear that the competition has also raised the bar. The guys have their work cut out for them. I can only hope that the unwavering support from the fans will help them in some way, because I (and with me many others) believe in them.
Only time will tell…