Darren Turner’s hopes of another victory at Le Mans ended just past the eight-hour mark of the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours when the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE had an engine issue caused by damage.
The British Aston Martin works driver was looking set for a top result at Le Mans after he and his team-mates Stefan Mucke and Rob Bell battled hard in the opening hours. Not long after they hit the third-way mark, Bell had to pull off the track from second place when the car lost power.
All of the preparations for this year’s Le Mans had run to plan. Working through a planned programme at the official test, starting well during race week and bagging third place on the GTE Pro grid to set up a great start to the 24-hour race.
It was Mucke who took the start, running an immediate triple stint before Turner jumped in for his first triple.
“Stefan did a great job at the start,” said Turner. He got stuck in straight away, dicing with the frontrunners throughout his three-hour stint. I jumped in next and after quite a long safety car period I got into a battle for the lead with Milner in the Corvette. It was an enjoyable fight but then he went really deep into the first Mulsanne Chicane so I went wide to get past but lost the rear and had a spin which lost me around 10 seconds. I spent the rest of my triple stint getting that time back and managed to get back in touch with the leaders before handing the car over to Rob (Bell).
At this stage of the game the race was wide open. The ambient temperatures had dropped as night fell at Le Mans so Bell went out on soft tyres to continue the fight for the lead. Unfortunately he made a small mistake, clobbering the kerb at the second Mulsanne Chicane, which unluckily damaged the oil feed to the engine. This caused the engine to fail later on in the lap so Bell had no choice other than to pull over and retire.
“It’s very disappointing to finish the race this way as we were very much in the hunt,” said Turner. “The car was a handful at the start of the race but as the track rubbers up into Sunday morning we always find the sweet spot so it’s a shame we couldn’t continue and take the fight to Corvette. Congratulations to them and I would like to wish Roald (Goethe) a speedy recovery. I look forward to seeing him back with the team soon.”
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship takes place in August at the Nürburgring in Germany.