In production 2004 – 2009
Chassis numbers: Works Cars DBR9/01- DBR9/10, Customer Cars DBR9/101 – DBR9/109
A press release dated July 14th 2004 confirmed that an Aston Martin Works team was planning to return to the race track for the first time since 1989. It went on to confirm that Aston Martin Racing (AMR) had been formed in partnership with nearby Prodrive of Banbury, headed by David Richards; its goal was to return to international motor racing during the 2005 season. AMR/Prodrive was responsible for the design, development and management of a new works racing programme and the sale of cars to private teams.
The new DBR9, named in homage to the Le Mans winning DBR1, was designed to run in the GT1 class, the highest one where the cars are based on standard two-seater and coupe road models. With some significant re-working and the introduction of high performance modifications, the cars are capable of racing over long distances – anywhere between 200 and 3000 miles. GT stands for Gran Turismo or Grand Touring, a type of racing with a long history, its popularity has grown since the mid 1990s with such cars as the McLaren F1, Ferrari F40, Corvette GT1, Dodge Viper and Porsche GT1.
The DBR9 was suitable for competing in various international championships including the FIA GT, the European Le Mans Series (LMS) and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) plus the most famous and toughest sportscar race in the world, the Le Mans 24 hours. With such a breadth of events, the Aston Martin marque would be seen by a huge worldwide audience.
The DBR9 used the DB9 road car’s aluminium VH chassis and also the production V12 engine’s cylinder block and heads. After this the car was comprehensively re-engineered for competition use. The gearbox on the DBR9 was a 6-speed Xtrac sequential unit. The double wishbone suspension was purpose-built and, being a GT1, there were large diameter carbon brakes front and rear. The forged magnesium wheels were also specially designed for the car by OZ Racing. In the cockpit, a carbon composite dashboard, lightweight racing seat and the driver’s instrument panels replaced all the original car’s trim.
The aerodynamic package of the car was developed using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Combined with the desire to follow the same lines as the DB9 road car, this helped define the overall body shape. All the panels were specifically hand crafted to fit the DBR9, and, to save weight, were manufactured in carbon fibre composite (with the exception of the roof which was aluminium). The standard glazing was replaced by polycarbonates on the sides and rear screen. The large rear wing was also made from carbon fibre, while to complete the aero package, the underside of the car was flat from the front to the rear diffuser. AMR coaxed some 600bhp from the V12 engine, an increase of almost 200bhp over the production DB9 while the weight was reduced by more than 500kg.
The DBR9s built fall into two distinct chassis number ranges but to all intents and purposes are the same. Chassis DBR9/01 to 10 were initially intended as works cars and also used by the works supported teams; Chassis DBR9/101 to 109 were customer cars. This is very similar to the DB3S production in the 1950s. As well as the full works team, there were to be three works supported teams, running independently but with full factory support. Two partner teams actually ran cars between 2006 and 2007, being BMS Scuderia Italia and Larbre Competition. As a third works supported team could not be found, two works cars (4 and 5) were sold off to private customers and never raced under the works banner.
For the 2005 season, the AMR works team entered two cars (DBR9/1 and DBR9/2) in selected FIA GT and American Le Mans Series events, including the Le Mans 24 Hours race. The very first race, the Sebring 12 hours, saw DBR9/1 take 1st position in the GT1 class; in the second race, the RAC Tourist Trophy at Silverstone, DBR9/2 took an overall win. The 2005 Silverstone race was the only time that an AMR works team campaigned the DBR9 in the UK. The first Le Mans 24 hour race for a works team since 1989 saw DBR9/1 achieve a very impressive 3rd in the GT1 class. For the remainder of 2005 and the whole of 2006 season, the AMR works team concentrated on the American Le Mans Series championship and the Le Mans 24 hour race.
For 2007 and 2008, the AMR works team only entered the Le Mans 24 hour race. In 2007, AMR used chassis 7 and 10, and achieved a GT1 class win for DBR9/10 – the only race the car ever entered. In 2008, AMR received sponsorship from Gulf Oil and the two cars DBR9/7 and 8 were painted in the iconic blue and orange Gulf livery. For the second year running, AMR took the GT1 class win with chassis DBR9/8 – the last race ever for the AMR works team using the DBR9.
During 2006 and 2007, the two works supported teams began using the DBR9, AMR Larbre Competition focused on the LMS in Europe whereas AMR BMS Scuderia Italia competed in the FIA GT Championship.
The first customer DBR9 was chassis 101, owned by club member, Dr. Richard Bryan and initially run under the Cirtek Motorsport banner but soon changed to Team Modena in 2006. Delivered before the end of the 2005 season, the car took its first class win on only its second outing in the Nurburgring 1000km Le Mans Endurance series driven by Darren Turner and Rob Bell, the last not having driven the car before. Following this, 101 went on to finish the final 2005 FIA GT race with a win in Bahrain. During the next three years, DBR9/101 competed successfully in the Le Mans Series, a one off race in Brazil, the RAC Tourist Trophy and three consecutive Le Mans 24 hour races. It is rightly regarded as the most successful of any of the DBR9s.
Other customer cars were sold to the Austrian team, Race Alliance/Jet Alliance (103 and 105), the German team, Phoenix Racing (104) and the British team, Gigawave Motorsport (106). Works car number 5 was sold to US team, Bell Motorsports and was never raced by AMR. In addition, works car 4 again never ran with AMR; in 2006, it was loaned to Cirtek Motorsports/Team Modena whilst they were unable to run DBR9/101, following this it was sold to EDM Motorsports / Strakka Racing.