There were smiles all round at Aston Martin Racing last night when Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Adrian Fernandez brought the new Vantage GTE home to a podium finish in the Sebring 12 Hours.
Darren started the race from ninth place on the combined FIA World Endurance Championship and American Le Mans Series grid. With over 60 cars taking the rolling start the chances of trouble were higher than normal.
“I got a very good start,” said Darren. “The Porsche in eighth and the Ferrari in 10th took each other out before we even crossed the start line so I was glad to avoid that. It was a lot of fun and a bit frantic as the pack really backed up before the green light.”
Darren was soon up to sixth and the class of the GT field so it was no surprise that when he pitted at the end of his 90 minutes in the car the Aston Martin was in the lead.
Once Mucke and Fernandez had completed their own trouble-free runs it was Darren’s turn again. Late on in his stint he was in a fantastic battle with a Corvette and a Ferrari ahead of him and a BMW on his tail. It was at this moment that his left rear wheel fell off.
“The wheel falling off certainly made things a bit more interesting,” he explained. “Luckily the wheel stayed within the confines of the circuit so that was a relief.”
Despite losing over seven laps, the Aston Martin Racing team stuck at it and fought all the way to the flag, taking third place in the FIA World Endurance Championship standings.
“Our objective was to get to the end of the race as this was the first competitive run for the Vantage GTE,” said Darren. “We were hoping for a top five so to take a podium position is better than we expected.”
Darren will now stay on at Sebring with the team for a two-day test to continue the development of the new car.