Darren Turner took part in the Total 24 Hours of Spa last weekend, racing the #44 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of the Oman Racing Team. Competing in the Pro-Am category with Jonny Adam, Ahmed Al Harthy and Devon Modell, Turner finished the gruelling race in seventh place in class after contact put the Aston Martin out of podium contention.
The Spa race operates a Top 20 shootout for the top grid positions. Unfortunately the #44 Aston Martin just missed the cut but with a 24-hour race ahead, anything was possible.
“Jonny (Adam) was in charge of qualifying and was very close to making the Top 20 shootout,” said Turner. “Just two tenths of a second would have made all the difference but with 65 cars on the grid getting a clear lap is always going to be a challenge.”
The Spa 24 Hours is undoubtedly the most competitive GT3 race of the year. With works entries from all the big manufacturers, it really is a 24-hour, no holds barred sprint. Points are awarded at the six, 12 and 24-hour marks, which creates targets throughout the race for the competitors.
“Along with Jonny and Ahmed, we focused on maximising points in the first six hours to help their championship aspirations,” explained Turner. “As the clock ticked into the seventh hour we were leading the class and gained the full quota of points. At that moment things were looking good.
“Unfortunately during my second run in the car one of the Am-class Lamborghinis caused a bit of mayhem in the Bus Stop Chicane, which ended up with me being hit a few times in the chaos,” he continued. “Although the impacts were very small they were enough to dislodge the exhaust system. I had to box for repairs then but not long after that I had to box again as this had caused an ongoing issue.”
The damage meant that the team lost numerous laps over the course of the race, which put them out of contention for a podium finish.
“As ever Spa threw in its normal heavy rain, which made things very interesting and a lot of fun,” said Turner. “The team did a great job with the strategy and in reacting to the weather, full course yellows and safety cars. Seventh in class really doesn’t reflect our potential but the team still scored some decent points so I was pleased for them on that front.”