It’s a pussycat, really,” smiles Darren Turner, Aston Martin Works driver, fresh from his team’s spectacular win at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the GTE Pro Class. We’re chatting in the Michelin Supercar Paddock at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the grounds of the March family estate in West Sussex. The object of Darren’s affection is the new Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro, which sits glinting in the sunlight, having its picture taken by crowds of incredulous fans, waiting for us to take it up Goodwood’s famous Hillclimb course.
Turner was involved in the development of this daunting track car, which of course is not a pussycat for mere mortals. This is swiftly proven as the Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro sets off up the hill, the carbon-fibre cabin roaring and rumbling as 820bhp surges through the tyres. Darren’s expert hands twist and twirl the racing steering wheel as we fly through the Hillclimb’s Molecomb corner, scene of so many crashes, passing just inches away from the intimidating flint wall.
The Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro is also the most outrageous Aston Martin to wear an AMR upgrade suit this year: in Vulcan form, the package includes aero adjustments for more downforce — including a dual-plane rear wing, dive planes and turning veins, altogether generating around 2,950 foot-pounds of downforce, over 600 pounds more than the “standard” car — as well as shortened gear ratios for more rapid acceleration and a stunning AMR paint scheme that echoes the vibrant Stirling Green and Lime livery of the Aston Martin Racing cars. Coming from Aston Martin, the interior of the Aston Martin Vulcan AMR Pro is a cut above your ordinary stripped-out track car: black leather-clad bucket seats with tan inserts and cushioned pads signal its special luxury character.
The Aston Martin Vulcan wasn’t the only new model wearing AMR Pro badging to burn off the Goodwood start line at the Festival of Speed this summer: Jonny Adam, also fresh from Le Mans, piloted the V8 Vantage AMR Pro up Lord March’s drive, as well as the V8 Vantage GTE Race Car, which had Martin Brundle at the wheel.
The Aston Martin Vulcan wasn't the only new model wearing AMR Pro badging to burn off the start line
Not content with just the GTE, Brundle also thundered past Goodwood House in the seminal DB11. This is Aston Martin’s most significant and dynamically gifted car to date and heralds the implementation of the brand’s Second Century plan, incorporating new bodies, platforms and powertrains. The V8 version of the DB11 made its dynamic debut at Goodwood: V8s have a glorious history with Aston Martin and in the DB11 it presents a more performance-orientated version of the sumptuous new grand tourer. It was only fitting that Aston Martin’s CEO, Dr Andy Palmer, put the V8-powered DB11 through its paces in front of the crowds all weekend, although he was joined by legendary cycling Olympian Sir Chris Hoy, who drove the car on the Thursday of the festival.
Perhaps the most aesthetically arresting car from Aston Martin’s stable, the Vanquish S Volante, put in a daily appearance at Goodwood, with a star turn by Fabiana Ecclestone, whose husband Bernie Ecclestone’s lengthy career in motorsport was being celebrated.
The Zagato-bodied Vanquish S coupe is the ultimate, limited-edition super GT, all the better for listening to the pitch-perfect note from that 6.0-litre V12. Driven by Aston Martin’s Chief Designer, Marek Reichman, its graceful silhouette marked the perfect showstopper from Aston Martin over yet another glorious edition of the world’s favourite motorsport garden party.