The 6 Hours of Spa didn’t deliver the double for Darren Turner this weekend but the British driver is sure that the Aston Martin Racing team is ready to take on the competition at the Le Mans 24 Hours next month.
Darren and his regular team mate Stefan Mucke were joined by Peter Dumbreck this weekend as Peter will also race with the duo at Le Mans. The new WEC qualifying system meant that Darren and Stefan were selected to do the running in qualifying and between them they took fourth place on the GTE Pro grid.
“We didn’t quite find the sweet spot during practice so we went into qualifying with some caution,” explained Darren. “We decided to look after our tyres so we had some decent rubber left for the race. The idea being that this would give us some extra life in the first stint.”
Darren started the race in the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE and immediately got down to business.
“The start was a lot of fun,” he said. “Rob (Bell) was on pole in the No.98 car, then two Ferraris and then me. It was nose-to-tail until the LMP2 cars came around and broke us up a bit. The Ferraris got the jump on Rob after a few laps but we were still running very closely together, pulling away as a quartet from the other cars in our class.”
Unfortunately for the No.97 Vantage GTE other factors were about to come into play. When the natural fuel window opened the Ferraris pitted but the Astons were running longer. This strategy would have been great but then an LMP2 car crashed which brought the race under the control of the safety car.
“This meant the pits were closed when we needed fuel,” explained Darren. “We hung out for as long as we could but then when we did pit it was all still under the safety car so as well as losing a chunk of time anyway we also earned ourselves a stop-go penalty for stopping when the pits were closed. The only other choice we had was to run out of fuel so we had to just do it and take the penalty.”
Ultimately the No.97 Vantage GTE finished the race in fourth position with the win going to Ferrari. Darren and the Aston Martin Racing team are now working hard to make sure that isn’t the result at Le Mans.
“We need to look at how we can improve the car in race trim,” he said. “That said though we learned a lot this weekend and we still took some points away. The guys in the No.98 car did a great job and took the team’s second podium of the season.
“The focus is on the Le Mans Test Day now and making sure we have a very strong car. What is evident from the Spa race is how close the competition is between all the manufacturers. It’s going to be one hell of a fight.”
2013 FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CALENDAR
14 April: Silverstone, UK
4 May: Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
22-23 June: Le Mans 24 Hours, France
1 September: Interlagos, Brazil
22 September: Circuit of the Americas, USA
20 October: Fuji, Japan
10 November: Shanghai, China
30 November: Bahrain