After winning the FIA World Endurance Championship race in China in both 2012 and 2013, Darren Turner had high hopes of scoring a Shanghai hat trick today. Along with his Aston Martin Racing team-mate Stefan Mucke, Turner aced the pre-race track sessions by finishing fastest on Saturday morning and then taking a brilliant pole position later that day.
Everything went to plan during the race with both drivers battling hard against some serious opposition. A good start by Mucke saw the #97 Aston Martin maintain the lead as the championship-leading Ferrari fell by the wayside after an accident with an LM P2 car. This brought out the safety car but as soon as the race got underway again Mucke remained in the lead, despite mounting pressure from one of the factory Porsches.
Darren was up next and he worked hard to build up a gap back to the other GTE Pro challengers.
“The first stints were really difficult,” explained Darren. “Both of us struggled with the balance of the car so we had to fight extra hard to maintain a small lead. Later on it all felt better and we were able to start to build a good gap back to second place so that gave us a bit of breathing space.”
By the end of Darren’s second stint he had amassed an impressive 21-second lead and there was one more stint each to go before what looked set to be three wins in a row in Shanghai.
A few laps into Stefan’s final stint the #97 Aston Martin had an engine issue and Stefan had to pull off the track and retire.
“It was game over straight away,” said Darren. “It’s very disappointing as by that point we had managed to take control of the race after fighting so hard for the first few hours. Unfortunately it became one of those days. I’m disappointed for the guys who work on #97 but let’s see if we can bounce back for Bahrain.”