Darren Turner and his Beechdean AMR team-mates, Andrew Howard and Alex MacDowall, finished yesterday’s ‘4 Hours of Red Bull Ring’ in fourth position. The drivers of the #99 Beechdean Aston Martin V8 Vantage now hold second place in the LM GTE driver’s championship, just one point shy of the lead.
“I really enjoyed the weekend in Austria,” said Turner. “The Red Bull Ring is a fun circuit. It has a really nice flow to it with a good combination of corners and it is in a beautiful setting, up in the Alps.”
Turner qualified the #99 Aston Martin in sixth position for Sunday’s four-hour race, just half a second off pole position, demonstrating just how competitive the GTE grid is in the European Le Mans Series. With the Aston Martin tuned to a good race set-up, Turner was happy with the position, knowing that the team had a strong car for the race.
Andrew Howard was onboard for the start of the race and he drove a strong stint, improving throughout before pitting from seventh place to hand over to Turner.
“Andrew brought the car back in one piece, which is always good after the excitement of the first hour,” said Turner. “My job was to get my head down and get as far up the field as I could. I was still on Andrew’s tyres, a decision we made to save time in the pit stop, but the Dunlops were performing well.
“I had a really good battle with (Andrea) Bertolini in the winning Ferrari,” he continued. “I tried a move into Turn 1 and it was paint-rubbing close but it was great racing. I got a bit close again later on when the Ferrari was baulked by an LMP3 car and the concertina-effect meant that he hit the P3 car and I hit the Ferrari. It was a fun stint and I was pleased to be able to hand the car over to Alex (MacDowell) in third place.”
In the latter stages of the race the Beechdean AMR strategy was looking good and the #99 Aston Martin looked set for a podium finish. Unfortunately a late Full Course Yellow meant that the cars that ultimately finished in second and third place could grab a free pit stop, which dropped the Beechdean car back to fourth place.
“Our strategy was good and we had a good race car,” said Turner. “The last Full Course Yellow played into the hands of the other competitors and there was nothing we could do. That said we were very happy with our race pace and the general car performance was very strong.
“Now we need to knuckle down and make sure we get a good result at Paul Ricard at the end of August. The championship is still very close and it is there for the taking.”