Aston Martin Racing GT4 competitors from throughout Europe were honoured on Tuesday night (13 December 2011) at the marque’s prestigious Gaydon Head Quarters during an awards ceremony.
A total of 11 trophies were awarded to those Aston Martin customer drivers and teams that had been most successful during the course of their various campaigns in 2011. The top-three driver pairings of the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Great Britain received their awards in recognition of their performances in the one-make series, which pits amateur racers head-to-head in identical Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4s. The cars are derived from the V8 Vantage road car, modified in key areas to suit the demands of competitive circuit driving.
The second season of the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Great Britain, organised in conjunction with the Aston Martin Owners Club, started at Silverstone in April before taking in further UK circuits including Snetterton, Donington Park, Oulton Park and Brands Hatch, with overseas visits to Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, in July and a season finale at Dijon, France, in September.
Following a gripping championship decider, Dutchman Karsten Le Blanc and Briton Dan de Zille emerged victorious, and thus were crowned GT4 Challenge of Great Britain Winners. “We’ve enjoyed the Challenge so much this year,” said Le Blanc. “It’s not just young boys racing, but slightly more mature gentlemen drivers, which suits me perfectly! I must say ‘thank you’ to everybody at Aston Martin Racing for building such a fantastic car as the V8 Vantage GT4.”
Britons Tom Black and Alan Bonner collected the award for finishing second in the standings, while countrymen Chris Kemp and Stuart Hall took the prize for third.
The highest accolade of the evening was determined by an innovative points system that saw no fewer than 182 individual drivers from 25 separate championships, driving in various classes, compete for the Aston Martin Racing Global Award.
Competition in the Driver category was so fierce that two drivers were crowned joint winners; Spanish and Portuguese GT Championship team-mates Francisco Carvalho and Miguel Ferreira shared the laurels for having achieved multiple podium results in the Iberian series. The pair also finished as the best-placed Aston Martin crew in the final standings.
Fittingly, Veloso Motorsport – the outfit responsible for Carvalho and Ferreira’s successful campaign – collected Aston Martin Racing Global Award honours in the Team category.
“We’ve all worked so hard this season and achieved so much,” said team principal Luis Veloso, “so to win both the Driver and Team awards makes us all really proud. It’s been a pleasure to work with Aston Martin Racing and the V8 Vantage GT4 is a wonderful car; it’s been fast and reliable all year.”
Portuguese racer Pedro Lopes received the third-place Global Award in the Driver category, while Rhesus Racing and Young Driver AMR collected second and third respectively in the Team category.
David King, Head of Motorsport at Aston Martin, said: “It was a pleasure to honour all of our best GT4 teams and drivers from throughout Europe at the home of Aston Martin. We want to congratulate all of our award winners; they should be very proud of what they’ve achieved this year.”
The Challenge looks set to grow even further next year with a greater number of competitors, continuing the trend from the first season of the Challenge to the second, as well as the exciting prospect of a single-marque support race at La Sarthe during the 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend as part of the Aston Martin Festival.
2011 Aston Martin GT4 Award winners:
AMR Global Award – Winning Driver – Francisco Carvalho and Miguel Ferreira
AMR Global Award – Third Place Driver – Pedro Lopes
AMR Global Award – Winning Team – Veloso Motorsport
AMR Global Award – Second Place Team – Rhesus Racing
AMR Global Award – Third Place Team – Young Driver AMR
AMR Brazilian GT4 Award – Winning Driver – Cristiano Federico
AMR Brazilian GT4 Award – Winning Team – ATW By Engmakers
GT4 Challenge of Great Britain Winners – Karsten Le Blanc and Dan de Zille, Nicholas Mee Racing
GT4 Challenge of Great Britain Second Place –Tom Black and Alan Bonner, Vantage Racing
GT4 Challenge of Great Britain Third Place – Chris Kemp and Stuart Hall, Stratton Motorsport
Spirit of the Challenge of Great Britain Award – Pierre Mantello