Regarded as perhaps the toughest production car race of the year, the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hour race takes place next weekend on 19/20 May. More than 170 cars will compete on the 15.5-mile circuit that combines both the fearsome Nordschleife circuit and the modern Grand Prix track.
For the seventh successive year, Aston Martin will compete in the race. For 2012 the company will field eight Vantage racecars, with four official Aston Martin entries - including a pair of V12 Vantage GT3 cars as well as four customer cars.
Last year the company focused its efforts on near production-specification cars, including prototypes of the limited edition V12 Zagato. But for the first time since its 2006 Nürburgring 24 Hour debut, Aston will compete in the senior SP9 category for GT3 cars.
A pair of V12 Vantage GT3s will be run by official partner team, Young Driver AMR. The lead GT3 #007 will be driven by Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck (A) with Dennis Rostek (D) and Darren Turner (GB). Turner's regular team-mate, Stefan Mücke will drive the #006 car with Tomas Enge (CZ), Fredy Barth (CH) and Oliver Mathai (D).
The Aston Martin engineering dept will also return with the V12 Zagato concept car, driven again by Aston Martin Chief Executive Dr Ulrich Bez (D), Chief Engineer Chris Porritt (GB), Aston Martin Nürburgring Test Centre Director Wolfgang Schuhbauer (D) and journalist Richard Meaden (GB).
"Our 100% finishing record in 13 starts in one of the world's toughest endurance races is remarkable; a testament to the reliability of our. In the past six years we have focused on close-to-production cars, achieving seven class podiums and three class wins. For 2012, I'm delighted to be returning again to drive our V12 Zagato with the engineering team, but also to have such an exciting step up with the V12 Vantage GT3s," said Dr Bez.
The fourth official entry will be a V8-powered Vantage run by Aston Martin's Nürburgring Test Centre team and driven by Jurgen Stumpf (D), Australians Mal Rose and Rob Thomson, plus Peter Cate (GB).
Aston Martin will be represented by four customer outfits, including Team Mathol Racing, winners of the SP10 class for GT4 cars in 2010.
The 40th ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hours starts at 4pm CET on Saturday 19 May.