Aston Martin to have largest racing contingent yet in 2014; Bruno Senna to drive 24 Hours of Le Mans

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James Bond’s career is one that has been built upon endurance.

That’s why it’s not surprising Bond’s favorite car manufacturer, Aston Martin, is expanding its sports car racing footprint in 2014, the 10th anniversary of its racing division.

According to MotorAuthority.com, the fabled English car maker will engage in its largest and farthest-reaching motorsports program in the company’s history this year.

As has been the case in recent years, Aston Martin (AM) will be a significant player in the World Endurance Championship GT class, with four full-time teams piloting AM V8 Vantage GTEs.

But the AM contingent will nearly double when it comes time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, when seven cars are expected to compete in the grueling day and night event. One of those cars will be driven by Bruno Senna, nephew of the late Ayrton Senna.

Aston Martin will also campaign a V12 Vantage GT3 at Nurburgring’s 24 Hours, Belgium’s Spar 24 Hours and at Silverstone as part of the Blancpain Endurance Series.

And in a first for the manufacturer, a seven-race North American-based series called the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge will be held, starting next month at Road Atlanta, in conjunction with The Racers Group.

The European version of the GT4 Challenge will also continue and enters its fourth season.

Drivers in the Aston Martin stable, according to MotorAuthority.com, will include Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Pedro Lamy, as well as WEC series newcomers Fernando Rees, Alex MacDowall, Darryl O’Young, David Heinemeier-Hansson, Kristian Poulsen, Christoffer Nygaard, Nicki Thiim and Paul Dalla Lana.

Check out the company’s 2014 racing promotional video below.

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Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”