Aston Martin has announced its return to international GT motorsport in 2012 with participation in the upcoming FIA World Endurance Championship.

The luxury and sports car manufacturer is to take part in the GTE Pro category of the series with its new V8-powered Vantage model.

Driving for the team this year will be Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Adrian Fernandez, with the trio enthusiastic about the upcoming campaign and optimistic that the new Vantage GTE will deliver the goods on race day.

The GTE is a modification of the road-going Vantage V8, but with some important modifications and improvements.

Competition regulations have required engineers to fit new cylinder heads, connecting rods, valves, camshafts and a racing exhaust system, while the car also features a six-speed semi-automatic sequential transmission and competition clutch.

The brakes have also been overhauled to include powerful but lightweight six-piston Brembo racing callipers, which are fitted to the front axle, with similar four-piston calipers at the rear.

Overall, the improvements make the GTE more responsive, but at its heart the vehicle stays true to the V8's design ethos, delivering excellent performance, style and drivability.

Aston Martin Lagonda chairman David Richards commented: "It's great to be returning to our core motorsport activity; production-based GT racing.

"It formed the basis for Aston Martin's return to competition when the DBR9 GT1-racer was launched in 2004 and it was in GT racing that we achieved our famous victories at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008."

Earlier this month, the company announced a number of additions to its Vantage range for 2012, including the launch of the new V12 Zagato model.

An overhaul of many of the most popular Vantage models is also taking place, including improvements to the 4.7-litre 420bhp (426PS/313kW) entry-level V8.

Additional attributes of the new vehicle include a six-speed Sportshift automated manual transmission gearbox, which features closer ratios, lower final drive and a faster, refined shift quality.

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Posted by Mark Thompson

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