2020 Aston Martin Vantage AMR #97 Pilots: A. Lynn, M. Martin, H. Tincknell Team: Aston Martin Racing Race: 20th overall (1st in LMGTE-Pro) at Le Mans in 2020 Spark - S7986 (resin)
Aston Martin first introduced the Vantage GTE in 2012. It came to replace the Aston Martin GT2 of 2008. Though very similar to the GT2, the big advantage of the new GTE was that it was much more user-friendly. And that made a difference, since it managed third place at Le Mans in 2012. In 2013 it finished third again and in 2014 won the LMGTE-Am class. The following years the results were disappointing, however in 2017 it came once again in first, in LMGTE-Pro. To keep up with the competition, for the 2018-2019 season Aston released the second generation of the GTE. Revealed in November of 2017, Aston called their new endurance weapon Vantage GTE AMR or just Vantage AMR. Based on the road-going 2018 Vantage, visually it looked a lot like the previous version. However, looks may deceive, and there is a lot to differentiate both generations.
The new Vantage AMR received extensive improvements to the chassis, drive train and aerodynamics. The chassis is based on the road car version, being an extruded bodied aluminum structure. Covering up everything are lightweight (and removable) carbon fiber panels. In fact, almost all of the exterior of the car is made from carbon fiber. To power the Vantage AMR Aston used a 4000 cm³ twin-turbo V8, from Mercedes-AMG. With DOHC, 32 valves and direct fuel injection it delivers around 530 hp. Somewhat out of the norm, the engine goes up front, mounted longitudinally. To stop the beast Aston used Alcon carbon ceramic disks on all four corners. Race-ready the Vantage AMR weighs FIA WEC’s minimum 1245 kg, which is 300 kg lighter than the road car. In terms of aerodynamics, Aston tweaked almost every single element, reducing drag and improving downforce.
The new Vantage AMR first raced at La Sarthe in 2018, yet the results were quite poor – only 8th and 13th. The following year things were worse, with a 12th place and three DNF. However, in 2020 Lady Luck smiled at Aston. Aston Martin Racing came to battle with three Vantage AMR, two for LMGTE-Pro and one for LMGTE-Am. And there was also a privateer, TF Sport, with a lone AMR in LMGTE-Am. The factory team finished in 20th, 22nd and 33rd, with #97 here coming in first place in LMGTE-Pro class. Moreover, TF Sport’s #90 finished first in LMGTE-Am. Yet, despite the outstanding success (complemented by a 2020 World Endurance GTE championship), Aston Martin pulled the plug. In December 2020 they announced that 2020 was the last year of a factory team in the FIA World Endurance Championship. With that, the Vantage AMR went out on top.
This particular model was off my radar. Though I’m always on the lookout for winners, the 2020 LMGTE-Pro winner was not on my hit list. However, I found one locally, and could not miss the opportunity. Compared to my previous Aston, the 2017 class winner, the 2020 car is a masterpiece. When you compare a “proper” Spark to one of their pw models it is easy to see just how subpar the pw are. There are exceptions, of course, however the 2017 car is not one of them. Nonetheless, the Vantage AMR #97 here is a terrific model, and will look great in any Le Mans collection.