Darren Turner returned to the ‘Green Hell’ this weekend, driving the No.31 Bilstein-liveried Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 that he and Stefan Mucke will race in the Nurburgring 24 Hours in a few weeks time.
With the Nordschleife bathed in glorious May sunshine, VLN 4 provided Darren and Stefan with the opportunity to prepare for the Nurburgring 24 Hours, which takes place a few days after the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Having not raced on the Nordschleife since last year’s 24-hour race in May, this was a good chance for Darren to get some mileage in and set the car up for this year’s race. Unfortunately the other competitors had different ideas and the sessions were peppered with red flags.
“There were so many red flags this weekend,” explained Darren. “I didn’t get to drive at all during Friday so my first lap was in qualifying. The session is 90 minutes long but with 200 cars all trying to set a time there is no way you are going to get a clear lap.
“Some teams queue at the end of the pit lane from 5.30am, just to get a clear track ahead of them for qualifying,” he continued. “It’s the racing equivalent of putting towels on sun loungers when you’re on holiday!”
Despite the red flags, Darren managed to get a timed lap under his belt but that was all he had before the race start on Saturday lunchtime.
Stefan started the race from 17th on the grid, getting as high as 10th on the opening lap before dropping back to 13th.
“When I jumped in, the car immediately felt very good,” said Darren. “I was very happy with the pace and was able to go quicker and quicker. About half way through my stint I caught the No.23 Nissan of Nick Heidfled. The Nissan is strong in a straight line and it’s fairly easy to make a big car a little bit wider on the Nordschleife. Nick did a great job at defending and kept me at bay for a frustrating four laps.”
Everything went to plan during Stefan’s next stint, the German running in 9th, 10th, 11th – depending on pit stops – and looking good for a top 10 finish.
Darren was preparing to get back in the car for the run to the finish when, just after the three-hour mark, the race was red flagged for two major incidents at different parts of the track so the Aston Martin duo had to settle for 11th place.
“The red flags limited the amount of running we got so there is still a fair bit of work to do,” said Darren. “I hope we can go to the Nurburgring 24 Hours with a competitive car and have a trouble-free run as that is the only way we are going to be able to take the fight to the big manufacturer entries.”
Car pictured is from 2013