Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke’s impressive display in this weekend’s Sachsenring round of the FIA GT1 World Championship has placed the duo in third on the GT1 leaderboard. With third place finishes in both races a solid haul of points has boosted their championship position, putting them right back in the running for the title.
Although Darren hasn’t been to the Sachsenring for a decade he was quickly on the pace at the tricky German track. He was quickest of all in Q2, describing his run as “a real heart-in mouth lap” and confessed to being “a little bit scared” as he had to drive so close to the edge to get the time he wanted!
Darren started Saturday’s qualifying race from the second row of the grid, making his usual clean start and holding off the advances of Sumo’s Enrique Bernoldi in the opening laps before pulling away. The top three – All-Inkl Lamborghini, Hexis Aston, Darren’s Aston - ran very close throughout the first half of the race and when the pit window opened they all dived into the pit lane together.
The Young Driver AMR crew got Stefan out into the race in second place, jumping the leading Lamborghini in the pits. A lap later the Nissans pitted and both Richard Westbrook and Warren Hughes jumped Stefan when they exited the pits. With the top three bunched together before Darren’s stop the in-lap had been slow and this is how Westbrook and Hughes got through.
Stefan quickly passed Westbrook and then hunted down Hughes, taking third place just two laps before the end of the race and bagging another top three starting spot for Sunday’s championship race.
It was Stefan’s turn to start on Sunday and, while the pole-sitting Ford GT and the Hexis Aston banged doors going into turn one, he sneaked through on the inside and took the lead.
After around 10 laps of very close racing the Hexis Aston barged past Stefan and then a lap later the Lamborghini of Dominik Schwager also made a move, knocking Stefan down to third before he handed over to Darren.
“The lead bunch had built up a good gap so there was no real pressure on me from behind,” said Darren. “I could attack the Lamborghini for a couple of laps but after that it all settled down and the three of us pulled away from the rest of the field but continued to match each other lap for lap.”
“Considering we didn’t have much luck in Abu Dhabi or Zolder, even though we had the pace, the championship was already starting to look a bit dire for us,” said Darren. “These last few races have turned our fortunes around and we’re up at the sharp end now. We had ballast this weekend which hurt us a little and at Silverstone we’ll have even more but I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going and putting on a good show at Silverstone.”