From an entry of 220, the Vantage achieved a brilliant 4th in the SP8 class and 24th overall, driven by Dr Ulrich Bez, Chris Porritt, Aston Martin’s Vehicle Engineering Manager; Horst von Saurma, editor-in-chief of Sport Auto magazine, and development driver Wolfgang Schuhbauer. Despite the heat (perhaps hotter than Le Mans) the Vantage completed 130 laps in 24 hours. The three cars in class SP8 that finished ahead of the Aston were Dodge Viper GTS-R, Lamborghini Gallardo GTR, Audi RS 4 and were I believe all road legal full race cars.
The car used by AM was CP 025, christened Rose (from English Rose), a late confirmation prototype identical to a production car, initially road registered in April 2004. CP 025 had already had a full life as a calibration vehicle, mostly on the dyno, and as such was actually in very good shape for a prototype. Modifications for the race were limited to the full mandatory safety cage, special racing fuel tank and fire system, racing seat, slick tyres and built-in air jacks; all for safety and pit-lane efficiency. Weight was shaved off by the use polycarbonate side windows, ditching almost all of the interior trim and addition of a lightweight exhaust system. Even the trademark AM side strakes on the wing vents were lightened from 800g down to just 85. The finished car weighed 220kg less than standard model.
Only two weeks after the race, Aston Martin’s Chris Porritt kindly brought the race stained Nürburgring Vantage to the AMOC Horsfall meeting at Silverstone to take part in the parade of V8 Vantages.
In a surprise move, at the start of the British Motor Show in London on the 18th July 2006, AM announced that they are going to build just a small number of replicas of the Nürburgring Vantage specifically for track days and amateur race drivers. It was intended that as the car would be perfectly road legal, it is expected that cars will be driven to the circuit, compete and then drive home again. Of course the subsequent N24 was not sold as a road car yet could be made road legal after modification.
Shortly before Christmas 2006 (15/16th December 2006), the ‘Rose’ was in action once again in the inaugural 24 hour race of Bahrain. Drivers on this occasion were Horst von Saurma, editor-in-chief of Sport Auto magazine, development driver Wolfgang Schuhbauer and Aston Martin’s Vehicle Engineering Manager, Chris Porritt. Starting from 14th the grid of mostly motorsport homologated cars, the N24 finished in 8th overall despite the unexpected heavy rain at the Bahrain International Circuit.
‘Rose’ was again in action, this time at the Silverstone round of the 2007 FIA GT Championship competing in the first ever FIA GT4 races for effectively road legal cars. For race 1 on the Saturday, Jac Nelleman came first in the production N24 with Chris Porritt 2nd in ‘Rose’. In the second race on the Sunday morning, the cars achieved 3rd an 4th. ‘Rose’ has now competed in the 24 hour race on the Nürburgring in 2007 (41st overall, 8th in class) and 2008 (18th overall, 1st in class). And if you are wondering, this is also the very same car that James May drove through Europe looking for the finest driving roads feature on the BBC TV Top Gear programme.
‘Rose’ is still owned by AML and was proudly displayed as one of the 100 cars chosen to celebrate the 100th birthday of Aston Martin at Kensington Palace in July 2013.