What started out as the British company’s works racing team back in 2005 has now grown into a full-fangled performance sub-brand which now gets involved in Aston-Martin’s latest initiative, the AMR Drivers’ Club. Rivaling brands like McLaren and Jaguar also offer track experiences for their own customers, so Aston Martin was bound to jump on this trend sooner or later.
"Our customers have been inquiring about this type of program for a while now," said Sebastien Delmaire, Aston Martin’s Director of Partnerships, referring to the AMR Drivers’ Club. "From the customer who would like to know what his or her Aston Martin is capable of, from the manufacturer who designed and built their car, to those wishing to hone their track skills with future ambitions of racing, we have it covered," added Delmaire.
As mentioned, each of the three levels includes its own sub-levels of preparation.
The first level of the AMR Experience program is called ’Discovery,’ and it basically introduces you to the world of Aston Martin and its products as well as getting one-to-one tuition from an Aston instructor. After you’ve discovered everything, you move on to ’Performance’ where the said instructor will help you gain confidence to push the car further, knowing that you’ve covered the basics in the previous level.
After you’ve just about reached the limits of your own Aston Martin, you can opt to try your hand at driving other Aston Martins through the AMR Academy program. This program has three levels, each taking one day and a half to complete which translates into a lot of track time and a lot of information that you must absorb like a brand-new sponge.
Finally, if all goes according to plan and you blast through all three stages of the AMR Academy, you can go ahead and enlist for the AMR GT Academy. This final program is aimed primarily at those who want to go GT racing with an Aston Martin, so you’ll get to drive the GT4-spec Vantage as well as other track-focused Aston Martin cars.
Again, you'll have a professional instructor at your disposal and a day and a half to pedal the Vantage GT4 around the track en route to gaining an international racing license.
The Vantage GT4 formally debuted at last year’s Gulf 12-hour race in Abu Dhabi. The car’s powered by the same 4.0-liter DOHC twin-turbocharged V-8 as the GT3 version which also debuted last year but features a less aggressive body kit with minimal modifications and with less oomph than the 535 horsepower of the GT3 model. Usually, GT4 models have about 450 horsepower on tap, so the Vantage, which barely weighs 2,800 pounds, should fall in that area depending on the air restrictor applied when racing.
Nine circuits will host AMR Drivers’ Club events in 2019 and, depending on your choices, the prices for packages range between $978 and $9,912. With some packages, you get hospitality and accommodation included as well as a car, depending on the course. The nine tracks and their corresponding dates are listed below. Included in the list are Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone, Hockenheim, and Imola among others. In other words, you get to test your limits and the limits of Aston Martin’s products on current or former Formula 1 venues.
|19 – 20 March||Algarve International Circuit, Portugal|
|15 April||Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium|
|13 – 14 June||Zandvoort Circuit, Netherlands|
|10 – 11 July||Brands Hatch, UK|
|30 – 31 July||Imola, Italy|
|4 – 5 September||Silverstone, UK|
|16 – 17 September||Barcelona, Spain|
|9 – 10 October||Hockenheim, Germany|
|22 – 23 October||Dijon, France|
Both McLaren and Jaguar offer track driving experience packages and driving courses for current owners as well as prospective owners.
McLaren's program, called 'Pure,' debuted last year and it's even open to folks who don't want to buy a McLaren but have the money to pay for a day of driving a 720S or a 570 GT, for instance.
The main difference with McLaren’s program is that it includes races for owners to take part in.
The ’Pure’ Mclaren program travels throughout Europe, visiting tracks such as Silverstone, Donington Park, Spa, Hockenheim and, beyond the confines of Europe, the Bahrain International Circuit. The first five ’rounds’ on the 2019 calendar have a four-day schedule that includes track days, McLaren’s Performance Academy with its three-step Race Level and Track Level training programs, as well as the test sessions and actual races of the Pure McLaren GT Series. Prices vary depending on the package, but they start at about $1,428 per person and, if you want to tackle the ultimate Race Level 3 McLaren Performance Academy training routine, you have to pay $23,487 per person. The noteworthy part here is that all Race Level training sessions will be done behind the wheel of a McLaren 570S GT4, the racing rival of Aston Martin’s Vantage GT4.
Under the ’Jaguar Experience’ banner, Jaguar offers the ’Art of Performance Tour’ that will kick off soon and is supposed to let you "experience new sensations and emotions that will stay with you, as you drive the new I-Pace, award-winning F-Pace and blisteringly-quick F-Type." Then there’s the "Jaguar Experience Drives" program based in Germany which includes a driving academy, track days with such models as the F‑Type S, F‑Type 400-Sport, and F‑TYPE R, and the Jaguar Racing Taxi which is like BMW’s well-known Ring Taxi only instead of an M5 or M3 you’ll be driven around the Nordschleife in an XE SV Project 8 or other Jaguars.
What's clear is that there's a market for well to do people who aren't happy to just take delivery of their supercars and readily take them to the bustling downtown area of a major city just so that people can see them.
This is a great thing since a McLaren or an Aston Martin should be driven, not used as an object that displays one’s wealth or social status. As McLaren’s own CEO, Mike Flewitt, said: "I hope there’s never such a thing as a McLaren barn-find, [because] that would mean someone owned a car never to be driven, and that would break my heart. We don’t develop all of this technology, and put all this effort into building these cars so that they can sit in a garage.”
Read our full review on the 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera
Read our full review on the 2018 Aston Martin Vantage.
Read our full review on the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S.
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