Along with the Nürburgring Nordschleife and Dijon, Sebring International Raceway is one of Darren Turner’s top three racing circuits of the world. This fact means that whatever the result, Darren will always have a good race in the Sebring 12 Hours and this year’s event was no exception.
Sharing the #98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE with Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda, Darren took sixth place in the once-around-the-clock classic in Florida yesterday.
The task of qualifying for the race came down to Pedro Lamy, who took ninth position, which didn’t reflect the pace of the car, as Darren explains:
“Qualifying was a tough call as we were struggling to get the medium tyre to work,” he said. “We knew we wanted to start the race on the softer tyre though so Pedro had to qualify on that tyre which made it very difficult for him. He went out in the blistering heat and took ninth, which was a great job when you consider he had a one-lap window to do it in.”
Pedro started the race and the tyre choice rapidly began to make perfect sense when he was on the pace of the leaders and started to pick off the cars in front during the opening stint.
Next up was Paul Dalla Lana but before the Canadian could complete a lap the right rear tyre parted company with the #98 Aston Martin! This was terrible luck for Paul, who was stranded on the track before being recovered back to the paddock. The team immediately leapt into action, fixing the damage and sending Paul back on his way, albeit 11 laps down.
After a good, long stint from Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda jumped in and then it was Darren’s turn behind the wheel.
“After the early problem we slipped back into the planned rotation of drivers, got our heads down and got on with the job,” said Darren. “My first stint was pretty straightforward and I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn’t have too much traffic to deal with so I could just enjoy the experience of racing one of the best GT cars in the world at one of the best racing circuits in the world. I was thinking this as I bounced through Turn One with a big smile on my face every lap!”
With no more dramas to contend with the team cycled through the drivers and picked up places along the way as others were beset with problems of their own, taking the chequered flag after 12 hours of hard racing in sixth place in the GTLM class.
“All you can do after early race problems is focus on having a clear run and that’s exactly what we did,” said Darren. “Of course it’s disappointing as we had a car with good race pace but it’s all good experience. We’ve had two races now with incidents, from which we have learnt a lot. We’re not going into the first round of the World Endurance Championship in a few weeks all relaxed after the winter break but fighting fit after two big events. I wouldn’t dare call Daytona and Sebring ‘warm up’ events but we’ve definitely blown any winter cobwebs away and feel fully ready to fight for the WEC title now.”