After taking the Aston Martin Vantage GTE into the class lead at the start of today’s Spa 6 Hours, Darren Turner ultimately had to retire due to a gearbox problem. It wasn’t a fitting end to a weekend that had seen the AMR team make good progress with the new car.
“We were happy with the car in the dry sessions prior to race day,” said Darren. “We did a lot of work on the balance as Spa is different to Long Beach and Sebring in its characteristics and configuration. Our performance got stronger through the sessions and then Stefan (Mücke) did a great job in qualifying to continue to reduce the gap to pole position.”
Mücke’s lap put the Vantage in third place on the grid so the scene was set for a great six hours of racing with Darren taking the start for Aston Martin. The weather changed on Sunday with a drop in temperature and heavy rain showers prior to the race but this did nothing to dampen Darren’s enthusiasm.
“As usual with Spa the weather came into play and true to form race day was wet,’ said Darren. “It’s no bad thing though as Spa is a great circuit whether wet or dry. I made up a place before the start when the pole man spun off on the formation lap, then the No.51 Ferrari ahead of me got boxed in by a slow-starting LMP2 car so I had a very easy run into turn one. The first lap was then pretty chaotic with a lot of the slower LMP2 cars tripping over each other as I tried to find a way through.”
By lap three Darren had settled into a good pace and was beginning to open a gap but after five laps he picked up a gear selection problem and soon started to slip backwards.
“It didn’t take too long for us to realise that it wasn’t something we could drive around or fix on the fly while I was still on track,” said Darren. “I boxed once so we could change the steering wheel and a few other components to see if it was an electrical problem. After another lap the problem was still there. The team tried to fix it but unfortunately there was no quick solution and that was the end of the race for us.”
“We showed good pace today in tricky conditions so it’s hard to stomach a DNF when it look liked we had a good chance of some silverware,” he said. “The good thing though is that the car is in one piece; it gets to fly First Class out to San Francisco now and I get to see some sunshine again at Laguna!”