At the end of the pit lane at Valencia’s Circuit Ricardo Tormo, the lights have just turned green to mark the start of a day of testing. The new Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 Evo leaves the Comtoyou Racing team pit with a raucous sound, still in its carbon black colour. This is normally a somewhat banal moment for a racing team, but not this time…
“We have to admit that this day will be engraved in our memories for a long time to come,” confided François Verbist, Team Manager of Comtoyou Racing. “In a way, this is the first day of our long-term collaboration with Aston Martin Racing, the start of a new adventure. It was an emotional moment and I must say that I felt a certain pride in knowing that we were the first customer team to run this car. But we did not have much time to think about it: we had two long working days ahead of us!”
Under the watchful eye of Benoit Bourdaire, AMR Head of Sales, the superb Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 Evo was first taken through a series of short driving sessions. “That is the very principle behind the roll out of a new car,” explains François Verbist. “We check that everything is working properly, that everything is tight, that there are no leaks of any kind… Then we started to lengthen the runs and work on the details. It was very interesting and we were able to learn a lot from it.”
Confirmed on Wednesday as a new Comtoyou Racing driver, Matisse Lismont joined Nicolas Baert and Finlay Hutchison, two drivers who were part of the team in 2023. Sent by Aston Martin Racing, official driver Marco Sorensen also got behind the wheel to share his experience with the Belgian team, exchanging a wealth of information with engineer Sébastien Breuil, who is also discovering the new car.
For Nicolas Baert too, the day represented something special. “New Year’s raclette seems a long way off,” joked the young Belgian with his usual sense of humour. “But it is so good to be back on track! I took the time to savour the moment when I slipped into the driving seat and I must admit I felt a mixture of excitement and pride at experiencing the start of this new adventure. After that, I was there to do a particular job and I have to say that we all worked well together. With its engine at the front, this Aston Martin is different from the GT3s I have driven before, so the feeling is also different, but I really enjoyed driving it straight away. I am convinced that she and I are going to get on well together. I cannot wait to see what happens next!”
While testing continues with the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 Evo over the coming weeks, Comtoyou Racing will be preparing the other three cars which will join the Belgian outfit for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe. “We are still in discussions with some drivers to finalise our crews, but we can tell you that the season is shaping up nicely,” enthuses Team Principal Jean-Michel Baert. “We will be revealing our full programme in due course, but in the meantime we can already say that with the end of these two days of testing in Spain, our season and our close collaboration with Aston Martin Racing are well underway!”