The 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship begins at Silverstone this weekend and Aston Martin Racing works driver Darren Turner is raring to go.
A new-look and new specification Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE awaits Turner at Silverstone, a track that is close to home for the British racer.
“The new-for-2016 GTE regulations mean that the cars look significantly different from before,” said Turner. “The main difference in in the aerodynamics department. The rear wing is slightly smaller but it now extends past the rear of the car and we have a larger diffuser that also projects from the rear. The rule change was designed to improve performance and to encourage more freedom in aero design, which opens up the opportunity for other manufacturers to enter the WEC.”
One of the biggest changes for Aston Martin Racing this year is the switch to Dunlop tyres. The team has run through an intensive test programme over the winter, working closely with the Dunlop engineers to develop a tyre suited to the V8 Vantage GTE.
Turner also has new team-mates for 2016 as he has moved from the #97 Aston Martin to the #95 car, affectionately known as the ‘Dane Train’.
“I’m very happy to join Nicki (Thiim) and Marco (Sørensen)for the season. It’s like having two big brothers, in terms of height anyway! Having seen how quick they were last year I’m looking forward to the season ahead as we have a strong line-up.”
The recent Prologue Test at Paul Ricard didn’t provide many clues on the relative competitiveness of the GTE cars so Silverstone will be the first real chance for everyone to size up the competition.
“With the new regulations and the fact that we are up against new cars from Ferrari and Ford, it’s hard to tell where our true performance is,” said Turner. “We’re encouraged by what we have seen so far in winter testing compared to our older specification car but until qualifying on Saturday it’s very hard to say how competitive we are. I’m sure we’re in for another fantastic season with close battles throughout the year and intense competition.”
The WEC season now consists of nine rounds with the addition of a new race in Mexico City, which is expected to provide one of the many highlights of the year.
“It’s always good to go to a new circuit in a new country and it certainly looked like the Mexican fans were enthusiastic about their motorsport when F1 was there,” said Turner. “Le Mans, of course, will be the main challenge of the year. This will be my 14th year at La Sarthe and it certainly doesn’t get easier with experience!
The WEC cars will take to the track at Silverstone this Friday at 12:15 for the first free practice session of 2016. GTE Qualifying takes place on Saturday at 11:50 and the 6 Hours of Silverstone will get the green light at 12:00 on Sunday.
STOP PRESS: Darren Turner will be on double duty at Silverstone as he will also race the #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage in Saturday’s European Le Mans Series race with Andrew Howard and Alex MacDowall.