In the fall of 2007 Aston Martin Racing engineers starting experimenting with a V8 Vantage N24 racing car. Originally conceived as a GT4 car, it gradually evolved into a potential GT2 contender, which was the only GT class Aston Martin did not cater for at the time. Early testing at Goodwood showed potential and the GT2 Vantage was officially announced in January of 2008. Customers now had their choice of GT1 (DBR9), GT2 (V8 Vantage), GT3 (DBRS) and GT4 (N24) Aston Martins.
While developing the car, the engineers had considerable more room for modifications than with the N24 Vantage, which was virtually stock. What remained unchanged was the advanced bonded aluminium chassis. The double wishbone suspension was also lifted off the road car but the geometry was changed to accommodate for the wider tires. The standard aluminium body, with the exception of the roof, was replaced with lighter and more durable carbon fiber panels.
The road car's 4.3 liter V8 engine was increased in size slightly to just under 4.5 liter. This was done to get an intake-restrictor size that best suited the characteristics of the engine. Interestingly Ferrari actually sliced displacement off their F430 V8 engine for the same reason. Although no official figures have been released, we expect the restricted V8 to produce around 480 bhp. The dry-sump competition engine was mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox that was mounted in unit with the differential.
Two principles customers were found for the new Aston Martin racing car. In Europe the car would be raced by James Watt Automotive, while Drayson Racing would take one stateside for the American Le Mans Series. Awaiting the arrival of their new car, Drayson campaigned their DBRS9 in the ALMS' opening rounds. The first public appearance of the GT2 Vantage came at the Le Mans Series test at Paul Ricard. The car was clearly still under development but the test gave Aston Martin the opportunity to test the waters against real opposition.
The same prototype car was entered in the season opening Catalunya 1000 km race but it was withdrawn after the morning warm-up with engine problems. Later that month the first production car was delivered to Drayson in time for the high profile Long Beach ALMS race. It was considerably off the pace but did manage to reach the finish. The team put on a valiant effort the remainder of the season but continued to struggle to match the competition for pace and reliability.
Back in Europe, the prototype made an appearance in the FIA GT test at Spa but did not take part in the 24 Hours later in the month. James Watt Automotive finally took delivery of their V8 Vantage in September and campaigned it in the Le Mans Series season finale at Silverstone. It completed the race in 33rd overall and 8th in class. In October the prototype was raced in two FIA GT races. Facing little opposition, the car won the G2 class at both occasions.
Although James Watt Automotive announced a two car entry for the Le Mans Series, Drayson was the only team to race the V8 Vantage in 2009. On the schedule are the Le Mans Series and the major long distance events. The season kicked off at Sebring where the GT2 machine was noticeably quicker but again suffered an engine failure. Back in Europe the team's second V8 Vantage performed better securing an 8th and 6th in class. The next race will the 24 Hours of Le Mans.