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2007 Aston Martin DBR9 (Le Mans winner)

Posted by bradiger about 5 years, 9 months ago

Location: London, UK

‘It will be hard for anyone to deny that [Le Mans] is the greatest motor race in the world, and the fact that it is once a year gives it a special feeling. You have a long time to anticipate it, a long time to train for it and you have only 24 hours to get it wrong… It has a very British feel to it as well. I cannot think of another event that creates the same feeling of magic as Le Mans.’ David Richards, Aston Martin Racing Chairman.

…And magic was indeed created for Aston Martin Racing and the Aston Martin marque when, in 2007, this very car took victory in the prestigious GT1 class. 009, as the car was officially numbered in the race, was piloted by renowned drivers David Brabham, Darren Turner and Rickard Rydell who, between them, re-established Aston Martin’s supremacy at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe where its DBR1 last tasted victory, albeit outright, in 1959. So important was the British marque’s 2007 win that this car was retired after its maiden race and has been displayed proudly ever since. The Le Mans 24 Hours is, for many, the definitive sports car race and Aston Martin as a marque is ingrained in the event’s history having made its debut there as far back as 1928.

Aston Martin Racing is the racing division of the iconic sports car manufacturer, which was created in conjunction with Prodrive in 2003. The notion to join forces for Aston Martin’s racing projects had been in the making between the two organisations since the mid-1990s and the division has subsequently gone from strength to strength.

In keeping with the ACO’s GT1 regulations in 2007, the DBR9 shares both common parts and engineering philosophy with its road car sibling, the DB9. Using the DB9’s aluminium block and cylinder head, the DBR9’s 600bhp V12 engine can achieve at least 150bhp more than its production counterpart, although it was fitted with air restrictors on the intake system to comply with the Le Mans race regulations. Without these, the engine is capable of even greater things. The power unit sits very low in the chassis to take advantage of a low centre of gravity and is fed through a series of carbon fibre intake tubes. Exhaust pipes are ingeniously integrated into the side sills, which are responsible for the flashes of light that the car produces on track at night when un-burnt fuel ignites for a split second within the tubes.

The DB9 road car is built on a bonded aluminium chassis, which is both rigid and lightweight, giving beneficial genes to its racing derivative. The layout of the race car’s double wishbone suspension harks back to the DB9, as does the aluminium roof and door handles; the latter two being production parts from the road car, as per the GT1 class rulebook. Differences included the race car’s body (which was handmade from carbon fibre panels), Xtrac six-speed gearbox that was mounted longitudinally to the rear axle, and the wheels which were purpose-built by OZ from lightweight magnesium. Carbon fibre brake discs to front and rear hubs finish the ensemble. Super lightweight, this car was presented for the 2007 race at a humble 1150kg, resulting in 25kg equalisation ballast being added by the ACO prior to the race.

With a power-to-weight ratio of 550bhp per tonne, along with the build quality associated with the Aston Martin marque, this DBR9 took some 1600 man-hours to build. In short, it is an exceptional car. Add to the recipe its Le Mans class-winning pedigree and the car becomes not just exceptional but also unique. As mentioned above, so precious was it to Aston Martin Racing that it was taken directly from Le Mans to the team’s Heritage Centre where it has been proudly displayed ever since.

An Aston Martin Racing book is offered with the car, offering a ‘blow by blow’ account of the Le Mans race and DBR9 009’s path to victory, including commentary from some of the team’s key members at that time.

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