Explosive Gunn turns heads as Aylesbury racer stars on Le Mans debut

Ross Gunn blasts through The Esses in the Beecdean Aston Martin Vantage on his Le Mans debut (Photo James Beckett)
Ross Gunn blasts through The Esses in the Beecdean Aston Martin Vantage on his Le Mans debut (Photo James Beckett)

Ross Gunn showed maturity beyond his 20 years when he impressed onlookers with a sterling performance in the weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, writes James Beckett.

The Aston Martin Academy racer made his Le Mans debut as a member of the Beechdean AMR squad, piloting the team’s Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE alongside team boss Andrew Howard and 2016 Le Mans racer Oliver Bryant.

After a early promise in the pre-race test ten days earlier, hopes were high for a strong showing and the team soon knuckled down to business in free practice and qualifying.

Fifty-third fastest of 60, the Beechdean trio lined-up ninth of the 16 LM GTE Am cars entered, with Gunn handed the responsibility of starting.

At 3pm on Saturday, the field was waved away from the startline, and Gunn was soon in the thick of the action.

Settling into a planned routine, Gunn drove a fine stint in the V8-powered car before handing over to his colleagues. As the race progressed, others in the LM GTE Am class encountered problems, but the Beechdean Aston kept on pounding out the laps around the Circuit de la Sarthe, a track that measures 8.4-miles in distance and uses a majority of public roads located near the French town of Le Mans.

Run in intense heat of over 30 degrees, cars and their drivers were placed under huge strain but the Beechdean car didn’t miss a beat as it raced into class contention as darkness descended, and so it continued through to when the race neared its conclusion.

There were hopes that a podium finish might be possible, but at the fall of the chequered flag the Aston was placed fourth in class, 31st overall.

“That was an amazing experience,” reflected Gunn. “To be asked to race at Le Mans with Beechdean AMR has been something I will never forget. The car ran without any issues for the whole race, that was 331 laps. The team did an amazing job to keep us on-track in a 24 hour period when temperatures were so high.

“It was great to drive with Andrew and Oliver and I think we can really be pleased with what we achieved. A podium would have been good, but to finish fourth is a great result for us and Aston Martin.”

Gunn’s team-mates were effusive in their praise for the young Vale prodigy, with Howard commenting: “I have to say Ross drove brilliantly throughout the week. It was a joy to share a car with him and Oliver in this famous race.”

Bryant added: “Ross has a very big future ahead of him in International GT racing and I would love the chance to drive with the team in the future.”