Aston Martin was the big name at last weekend's Nürburgring 24 Hours race – propelled mostly by one man, CEO Ulrich Bez.

The fine old British marque is celebrating its 100th birthday and Bez is in his last year as its boss. He decided that part of the celebration would be to do what he had always known Aston Martin must do for ultimate success: take on the German marques in their own backyard, where they spend millions, and if not actually beat them, then deal them a painful punch on the nose.

People are sometimes confused into thinking Bez is leading a German takeover of Aston. What he's actually doing is showing this predominantly British-run company how to beat its most potent opposition. After he departs the big job, late this year, this will always be seen as the key contribution of his 13-year reign.

At the Nürburgring, we first encountered Bez outside Aston's palatial hospitality suite, glowing with enthusiasm and about to step into the James Bond 'Skyfall' Aston DB5 for a shakedown drive.

All kinds of Astons were there. Later in the day, Bez would lead a group of three extra-special Astons: the DBR1 that won the 1000km race in '59 (driven again by the winner back then, Sir Stirling Moss), the special, traditional-looking CC100 centenary concept and the company's most expensive car ever, the £1.2m One-77.