Aston Martin Racing will introduce the 2013 version of its V8 Vantage at the Twelve Hours of Sebring this weekend.

The new car is a development of last year's race winning Vantage GTE, and will be driven at Sebring by long-term drivers Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke, as well as F1 refugee Bruno Senna, who makes his debut in AMR colours.

The team will also run a 2012-spec Vantage at Sebring as part of a two-car team for Billy Johnson, Pedro Lamy, and Paul Dalla Lana.

Despite Sebring not being part of the World Endurance Championship this season, AMR has elected to contest the opening round of the American Le Mans Series in preparation for the WEC, which begins with the Six Hours of Silverstone on April 16.

Aston Martin Racing's team principal, John Gaw explained ahead of Sebring that the team had focused on the Vantage GTE's 'durability and drivability while optimising its performance', adding that the team is on target to meet its pre-season testing objectives.

"[We] have managed to complete some significant mileage in the two sessions at Portimao and Road Atlanta," he said of the tests carried out over the winter. "The plan was to get two full lifecycles on the 2013 car before the start of the WEC season and we're on track to do so. The cars both performed very well and we are pleased with the data we have gathered.

"If we can collect the data we require and achieve a podium with either car, we would have met our objectives."

Mucke and Turner were equally as optimistic about the 2013 car's performance, and highlighted on its reliability and the team's ability to work around any problems it experienced in testing.

"We had a good test session in Atlanta," commented Turner. "The first day was cold so it was a bit more difficult to understand the car, but we still managed good mileage. Any minor issues were remedied quickly and effectively by the team, so we are pleased with progress. The second day was much warmer so we could really start to work on the car."

Mucke shared Turner's enthusiasm about the new car's performance in testing, and even claimed that the team had matured since last year.

"If you look back at where we were last year to this year, we're leaps and bounds ahead," he said. "The Road Atlanta test was good. We got two days of great running and any minor issues - which are to be expected in a test - were quickly sorted by the team. I'm looking forward to the Sebring promoter test day so we can get even more mileage on the car, get our race set-up running and so we can learn about the car's reliability."

Senna was also 'tipped to do well' by Mucke in the run up to Sebring, but the Brazilian - who last competed in endurance racing in 2009 - conceded that whilst he is enjoying his time with Aston Martin, he faces a daunting task ahead.

"'I'm enjoying every minute," said Senna. "The drivers are really supportive and are helping me to understand GT racing. That includes everything from low-level things like driver changes right up to driving the car to get the most out of it.

"I'm looking forward to Sebring; it's daunting but very exciting."

by George East


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