Darren Turner (GB), Stefan Mucke (GER) and new team-mate Jonny Adam (GB) finished round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship in sixth place at the Nürburgring in Germany yesterday. All three drivers pushed hard throughout the six-hour race so were ultimately disappointed with a sixth place finish, rather than their usual front-running form.
Turner and Mucke qualified the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE in seventh place on Saturday, below their usual top three grid position. All of the Aston Martins have been handed smaller restrictors in balance of performance changes since Le Mans and the resulting reduction in power became very apparent on Saturday.
“It’s puzzling as neither of us could get a good time out of the car in qualifying,” said Turner. “It wasn’t just the balance of performance changes as we were also off what the other Aston Martins were doing so it’s a bit of a mystery at the moment.”
Mucke started the race and he made a good getaway, taking sixth place early on. Richie Stanaway in the #99 Aston Martin found a way past Stefan after a few laps but just a few minutes later Ferrari’s Gianmaria Bruni – the championship leader – stopped on the track with a technical problem and the #92 Porsche received a drive through penalty for jumping the start so this boosted the #97 Aston Martin to up to fifth place.
Just before the close of the first hour, Mucke pitted from sixth place to hand over to Turner, who joined the race after the team made some swift changes to the aerodynamic set up of the car to try to give him more grip.
Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Turner couldn’t get any more speed out of the car and throughout his stint he remained off the pace. Turner and Mucke have had numerous successes at the Nürburgring in the past, which makes the weekend’s performance all the more puzzling.
There was a change in the second half of the race when all three drivers found they could run at the pace of the other two Pro class Aston Martins.
“It was one of those weekends that are very confusing,” said Turner. “Fortunately they don’t come around very often but when they do they really leave you scratching your head. The balance of performance changes affected all of the Aston Martins and for some reason I struggled more than the others in the first stint.
“It was a disappointing event for everyone on #97,” he concluded. “Hopefully we won’t have another race like it and we can work out exactly what we need to do to make sure we are on the pace when we get to COTA for the next round.”
Turner will be back in WEC action in three weeks’ time at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas on 20 September.