Aston Martin target Le Mans

Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell helped to launch Aston Martin's latest motorsport programme yesterday. The British company suggested a new future for sportscar racing when the former Formula One racers unveiled their new DBR9 contender which will race in the Le Mans 24-Hour endurance classic that Aston Martin won back in 1959.

"When you manufacture dream cars like Aston Martins, production-based racing makes a lot of sense and I predict a resurgence in sportscar racing in the coming years," said the BAR-Honda team principal, David Richards, whose Prodrive company will prepare and enter the cars next year under the Aston Martin Racing banner.

Observers believe that within two years regulations will be changed so that production-based sportscars such as the DBR9, together with Maserati's MC-12 and the Ferrari F550 Maranello campaigned successfully by Prodrive this season, will supersede the expensive bespoke prototypes such as the Audis and Bentleys that have dominated the French race for the past five seasons.

Brundle and Blundell are so convinced that they plan to run their own team and race together at Le Mans in 2006.

Ford recently rescinded the decision to drop their world rally championship programme and will continue for at least four years. However, Citroën and Peugeot announced yesterday that they will leave the series at the end of the 2005 season.

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