Darren Turner is celebrating tonight after making it to the finish of his first ever Nürburgring 24 Hours. When you consider that the race is held on the Nordschleife - one of the longest and toughest tracks in the world, and nicknamed the ‘Green Hell’, as the incessant rain may keep the forest green but plays havoc with the racing - it is no mean feat to finish at your first attempt. In fact this year’s race saw a third of the grid of just over 200 cars fail to finish.
Darren was racing the No.6 factory-backed Aston Martin V8 Vantage in the SP10 class, alongside Shinichi Katsura, Rob Thomson and Jurgen Stumpf. The car, nicknamed ‘Smurf’, crossed the line this afternoon in fifth place in class, in a formation finish with the two Aston Martin V12 Zagatos.
The job of negotiating the busy start came down to Darren and he completed a triple stint to get the ball rolling. Other than a “little kiss” with another car during his first run, all of Darren’s stints were trouble free.
The No.6 Aston Martin ran in second place for the majority of the race until a small slip-up by Stumpf put the car in the wall just after dawn this morning. A team member was despatched on a motocross bike to find the stricken car and it was recovered to the pits.
“I think we lost just over two hours in the end,” said Darren. “Other than that the car ran like clockwork which is incredible around such a tough circuit. The team did a great job for us in the pit-stops, even when they had a lot on their hands with the Zagatos.”
“I’ve always thought that the atmosphere at Sebring is something to behold but the atmosphere around the Nordschleife is unbelievable,” continued Darren. “There are a lot of flashing lights, fireworks, huge bonfires and you can smell the barbecues all the time. It’s so unlike the races I normally do. Everything is open to the public and the pit lane is organised chaos. When you first get there it’s strange as you’re conditioned to strict rules but you soon get used to the madness as it really works!”
It wasn’t just the relaxed rules that got Darren’s attention; he saw first-hand what an amazing job the Nordschleife marshals do.
“The marshalling is exemplary,” he said. “When you consider the carnage going on all around, the marshals do an incredible job. They are very good at letting you know what’s going on ahead of you and they really keep the race going. The job they do lets us enjoy racing in it’s purest form.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed my first Nürburgring 24 Hours. It was great to see everyone hanging off the catch fencing at the end and really enjoying the moment. I would love to do it all over again and would like to say thank you to Aston Martin for having me in the driver line-up!”