Aston Martin Racing factory driver Maxime Martin has said racing for a manufacturer at Le Mans is ‘where he wants to be’.
The Belgian will be heading into his fourth 24 Hours this weekend but just his first as part of a manufacturer team and his first in the GT classes.
His last appearance at La Sarthe was five years ago when he failed to finish in a Thiriet By TDS Racing Oreca 03. His best result came in 2012, when he finished seventh in an OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan alongside Bas Leinders and David Heinemeier Hansson.
“This year it is definitely a big step,” Martin explained. “I’ve been to Le Mans three times but always in LMP. This year is my first time in GTE and the first time in a works effort.
“I didn’t want to go to Le Mans just to do it, now I’m with a proper manufacturer and competing in a very strong GTE class is where I want to be.”
The 32-year-old remained tight-lipped about his targets for Le Mans – other than an obvious desire to win – but is confident about the new Vantage GTE’s performance.
“The car is really good. We have done a lot of testing, the car is reliable, and the car has good speed. It is a big evolution on the old car which is exactly what we needed,” he added.
Away from Le Mans, Martin has been kept busy in his first season as an Aston Martin factory racer. He explained leaving BMW was because of seeking new challenges.
He said: “I think it was a mix of a lot of things. I wanted to have a new challenge, because I was with BMW for seven years – five as a works driver – and at the end I wanted to have a new challenge.
“Also the DTM [where he represented the brand for four years] at the moment has a lot of question marks over it with Mercedes leaving at the end of the year.”
Despite a number of programmes this year – including the WEC, Blancpain GT Series, British GT and select rounds of the VLN – Martin hasn’t looked long-term.
“Every year is new, so we will see.”
Jurek Biegus and Miguel Bosch contributed to this report.