Darren Turner’s last lap during Friday’s qualifying session at Laguna Seca in California was one of those magical moments when everything goes right. The British racer put the #007 Aston Martin Vantage GTE on pole position for the third round of the American Le Mans Series, prompting speculation of a revival of the old Corvette vs. Aston battle at La Sarthe next month.
The Aston Martin Racing team improved steadily throughout the three practice sessions at Laguna and topped the timesheets in FP3.
“Before qualifying we thought we had the pace to be near the front but you never know what everyone else is doing,” said Darren. “I laid down an early lap to put us on pole and then spent two or three laps on and off pole. I had a couple of laps of traffic after that and then went for one final lap and that was the winner.”
The start of the 6-hour race was tasked to Stefan Mücke who made a good getaway, maintaining the lead throughout his first stint.
“The start of the race was great; real nose-to-tail GT racing, before Stefan and Olly Gavin’s Corvette started to break away,” said Darren. “Unfortunately because of the regulations we have a smaller fuel filling restrictor, which cost us around 10 seconds in every stop so when Stefan rejoined after his first stop he was down to 10th.”
During Stefan’s fight back through the field he tagged the back of a Patron Ferrari and received a 60 second stop-go penalty, pushing the Vantage GTE further down the order.
“I jumped in after that and had a good run,” said Darren. “The pace was great and I had a lot of fun but we were a lap down and not really in the mix by that point.”
Adrian Fernandez took the car to the chequered flag in eighth position, a position unrepresentative of the performance of Aston Martin Racing this weekend.
“We led again, like Spa,” concluded Darren. “And we showed good pace. It was nice to get pole position and a shame to lose due to the fuel-filling situation. The car is on its way home now where it will go into build for Le Mans and I look forward to seeing her again in just a few weeks’ time.”