Aston Martin boss underlines DTM effort
Aston Martin Group CEO Dr Andy Palmer’s primary reason for being at the Nürburgring was to help launch the British luxury brand’s new one-make Vantage cup series for 2020. But the British engineer also spoke proudly about the marque’s successful first season in DTM, and also confirmed its commitment to the series for the future.
For R-Motorsport, the Swiss race squad that races the Vantage DTM under licence from Aston Martin, it has been a frantic year. It famously conceived its four-car DTM programme in around 100 days – a quite incredible feat – and has created a respected operation that is increasingly knocking on the doors of DTM’s big boys, Audi and BMW.
“My brief to the team was, ‘Don’t disgrace us’,” admits Palmer, talking candidly ahead of the Nürburgring weekend. “I know how tough this series can be, and a lot of people warned me not to underestimate it. It is a hell of a championship: just look at how many Formula 1 drivers have come through DTM.”
One such driver – Paul Di Resta – heads the four-driver squad. A race-winner and a champion, his performances have underlined just how tough it has been to build a car that can compete against BMW’s M4 and Audi’s RS5DTM.
“I was a bit worried that we would be trailing around at the back of the field,” Palmer continues, “but we did okay. We scored points, and Paul led our first race. We know you don’t win anything in the first year; you have to be patient. The guys are learning, also from the mistakes, and that is where it should be.”
Despite coming together so quickly, Aston’s first DTM season has shown promise
For a luxury brand that has established its sporting reputation in GT racing, the decision to head to DTM may have seemed unusual. After all, the competition is brutal, and the market perhaps not quite as obvious.
“Some people were surprised that we decided to go this way,” Palmer acknowledges. “But the reach of DTM in Germany is huge. And DTM has ambitions to be more global in its perspective – which makes it an interesting series with which to partner.”
While he admits that Aston Martin hasn’t set itself a timeframe within which to be competitive, he openly states that he expects R-Motorsport to gradually ramp up its performance over the next few seasons.
“We have set neither a lower nor an upper limit for the duration of this project,” he says. “We want to learn from the teething troubles of this year; then hopefully see ourselves at least occasionally on the podium; and, on a three-year programme, hope to be competitive in the third year.”
Palmer (second from right) is bullish about the potential ahead