The #97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage of Darren Turner and his new team-mate Richie Stanaway finished yesterday’s thrilling 6 Hours of Nürburgring in fifth place. The fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship was an action-packed affair, producing plenty of on-track battles to keep the thousands of spectators entertained.
Turner and Stanaway qualified the #97 Aston Martin in third place after a strong performance in a thrilling qualifying session where the times tumbled on everyone’s final lap. With the track drying after a rain shower the teams had to time the moment to switch to slicks perfectly.
“When you’ve got a drying track it’s a pretty difficult call for all the teams to make,” said Turner. “All of the guys who went out first, including Richie (Stanaway), knew the track was going to get better so it was really just a banker lap. That was my first lap on the intermediate tyres this weekend so my stint was a little exploratory for me. I needed to push but not make a mistake but we were happy with the pace we were able to achieve.”
Judging by the times posted by all of the GTE Pro class cars in the free practice and qualifying sessions, it looked like the race would be a close battle. It certainly didn’t disappoint and turned into a thoroughly entertaining endurance race.
Stanaway took the start in the #97 Aston Martin, taking second place at the start of lap two but also sustaining damage to one of his wing mirrors. He pitted in second place at the end of the first hour but the team had to repair the mirror – by quickly switching the driver’s door – and this meant that Turner joined the race in sixth position for his first run.
The fightback was on and Turner and Stanaway took turns to drive very strong stints throughout the six-hour race.
“In my second stint I had great battle with Olivier Pla,” said Turner. “He had just come out on new rubber during the second part of my stint and it was obvious that keeping that car behind me was the key to getting a good result for the whole team. I really enjoyed the scrap we had, trying to out-race and out-think the other guy. Battling that close is hard enough but with intense LMP1 and LMP2 battles going on around you too it can make for some hairy moments!”
Turner held Pla off for many laps before an LMP2 car that got in the way and blocked the Aston Martin ultimately decided the battle. The #97 Aston Martin took the chequered flag in fifth place.
“Overall it wasn’t the best result but despite that extended pit stop we held on and fought back to fifth at the flag,” said Turner. “It’s good to be back in the #97 car and it’s good to race with Richie as I haven’t shared a car with him before. The main thing is that we bagged more points and as we look forward to the international stage of the season we are still in contention.”
The FIA World Endurance Championship now heads out of Europe with Round 5 being held in Mexico City on 3 September.