Aston Martin has axed its GTE Pro programme in the same year they claimed FIA World Endurance Championship drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles, and a victory in the hallowed 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The British manufacturer has decided to end its factory programme to focus on its customer operations. It brings an end to a successful eight-year tilt in the World Endurance Championship.
Aston Martin Racing took 44 class wins in that time and two GTE Pro Le Mans victories in 2017 and 2020.
Triggering the exit were the financial aftershocks of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as an increased presence of Aston Martin in Formula 1 next year.
“Vantage proved it has world champion pedigree in 2020, and in its GTE variant is a 24-hour race winner,” commented Aston Martin Lagonda CEO Tobias Moers.
“Now with the Vantage GT3 we wish to give our partners and customers the best opportunity possible to fight for victory against our closest rivals in the toughest endurance challenges GT racing has to offer.”
Prodrive was initially nominated to run the works team in GTE, having run cars under the Aston Martin Racing banner at Le Mans every year since 2005.
The team still had a year and a half left on its contract with Aston Martin. However, Prodrive will now be responsible for building and selling front-engined Aston Martin GT racers across the GTE, GT3 and GT4 categories. These include the Intercontinental GT Challenge and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona class.
“This year has been one of unprecedented success for Vantage in international motorsport,” said Aston Martin Racing president David King.
“At all levels, from GTE, through GT3 to the entry-level GT4, we have experienced significant championship success, winning 26 titles across the spectrum of world, international and domestic series.
“But there is more to achieve, and there is more to come from Vantage, which is why we have concluded that now is the time for us to shift the weight of factory support to our partners as we go in pursuit of success in the most important events in GT racing.”
Aston Martin now follows Ford and BMW as the latest manufacturer to leave GTE in the last two seasons.
It leaves a significant hole in the line-up for the future of the championship. Only Porsche and Ferrari are left to contest a one-on-one battle. Still, only Porsche has confirmed two entries for 2021 while Ferrari is remaining in the dark.
Though it is expected the Scuderia will continue with two cars for next season, which kicks off with the 1000 miles of Sebring on March 19.