Reigning European Le Mans Series GTE Champions Beechdean Aston Martin Racing have announced they will return to the championship in an updated factory Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE car with Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Ross Gunn.
Andrew Howard, Beechdean AMR team owner and driver, will be teaming back up with Aston Martin Racing Veteran Darren Turner. Howard and Turner, together with Alex Macdowall in 2016, took two race victories in their debut ELMS season on their way to championship victory.
The experienced duo will be joined in the #99 car by Aston Martin Racing Factory driver Ross Gunn. Gunn, 20, will continue with the Beechdean AMR squad for a third successive year, making his ELMS race debut at Silverstone in April.
Reigning ELMS champion Howard commented “It’s great to be back in the ELMS championship for a second year. Working with Darren in 2016 was essential to my improvement in the GTE car. The car is going to be very different, but last year is a great base to learn from.”
Experienced Aston Martin Racing Factory Driver, Darren Turner mirrored Howard’s previous statement saying “It’s very exciting to go back and race in the ELMS with Beechdean again this year. It’s always good to race with Andrew (Howard) and I’m looking forward to racing with Ross (Gunn) for the first time. We had some good races last year and we were lucky at the last round to snatch the championship. I think this year will be equally difficult with even more competition but hopefully we will be in a position to fight for the championship when we get to the last round.”
“To be stepping up to the European Le Mans Series with the reigning champions is a dream come true”, said Gunn. “Alongside my British GT commitments in 2016, I went to all of the ELMS races bar one to shadow the team and learn as much as possible. Driving with Andrew and Darren will be invaluable. I’m really excited about this step in my career and I will be pushing hard for results.”
Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup champions TF Sport will step up to the European Le Mans Series this season with a Vantage V8 GTE, driven by Nicki Thiim, Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey.
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Championship titles at home and abroad made 2016 a breakthrough year for TF Sport, but 2017 promises to be truly momentous for the British team, which will step over to GTE-spec machinery for a dream assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the European Le Mans Series. TF Sport has risen to glory relatively quickly since its inception in 2014, winning last year’s British GT Teams’ and Drivers’ titles before making history by sealing the inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup and, in doing so, earning a coveted invitation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
TF Sport will therefore a V8 Vantage GTE in the ELMS for works driver Nicki Thiim, Turkish Am Salih Yoluc and British Pro Euan Hankey. Thiim joins TF Sport as the reigning FIA World Endurance GT Drivers’ Champion who also took Aston Martin Racing to the 2016 GTE-Pro Teams’ title, two years after securing the GTE-Am crowns with the British sportscar marque.
“TF Sport has had a lot of success in the UK and Europe, but it has a long-held desire to go further and it’s special that I will accompany the team as it heads into this big, new challenge,” said Thiim. “The European Le Mans Series is completely new for me and I’m not familiar with all of the tracks, but I know it is very competitive, with grids full of teams who put everything into winning it for a chance to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans". “It’s a good step towards racing on the international scene in the FIA World Endurance Championship and I’m here to help TF Sport achieve the goals it has placed over the season. I’ll pass on to Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey all of my knowledge and experience with the Aston Martin GTE and the tracks I have raced on to ensure we’re successful, because I’m always in it to win it.”
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"I'm delighted to be going to Le Mans once again with Aston Martin Racing," said Bell. "It's one of the greatest endurance races in the world, and one that every driver wants to take part in. This will be my ninth time taking on the iconic 24-hour event and, with TF Sport and a strong driver line-up, we are in a great position going into the race. Salih (Yoluc) and Euan (Hankey) had a fantastic 2016 season with TF Sport and I'm looking forward to tackling the race in June with them."