Darren Turner and his Aston Martin Racing team mate Stefan Mucke took second place in yesterday’s Bahrain round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. This is the duo’s fourth podium in a row and it saw them move tantalisingly closer to the first win for the Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
It was Mucke’s turn to qualify and he repeated Darren’s efforts from Brazil by taking pole position. Starting duty was down to Darren and he got away well at the lights and immediately began to build up a lead over the chasing No.51 Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella.
Towards the end of Darren’s first run he had built up a 15 second gap and then the Ferrari pitted early to avoid the tyre degradation that was exacerbated by the intense heat in Bahrain. This helped the Ferrari to play catch-up and when Stefan took over the Vantage he came out behind the Ferrari, which now had Toni Vilander at the wheel.
“Stefan did a great job to catch and pass Vilander,” said Darren. “Unfortunately towards the end of Stefan’s stint the right-hand exhaust silencer started to fail so the wadding was coming out and showering the ground with sparks under the car. It was dark by this point so it looked pretty spectacular!”
Stefan pitted early so the team could try to fix the issue and Darren jumped in. The problem for Darren though was that the exhaust fumes were now leaking into the cockpit so he had to pit five minutes before the end of the stint, before he was overwhelmed by the fumes!
With two early and long pit-stops behind them, Stefan rejoined in third place, with the cockpit air vents wide open. They were still very much in contact with the front of the pack until a safety car period made them lose half a lap to the leaders. There were two safety cars in Bahrain and one came out between Stefan and the leader, which put the Vantage back by half a lap. They later recovered to second place by leapfrogging a Porsche in the pits.
“That’s the closest we’ve been to wheel-to-wheel racing for a win with the Ferrari,” said Darren. “We were unlucky with the safety car and scuppered by a very small issue that forced us to pit early. The team did a brilliant job of minimising the time in the pits though. It’s just a matter of time and a bit more hard work now.”
Bahrain was a hard race as there are some heavy braking areas there so the drivers work extra hard in the car. Coupled with the heat and fumes it was a tough one so second place was a tremendous result and another step closer to that elusive first win for the Vantage GTE. Roll on Japan!