Darren Turner took the chequered flag in second place after six hours of flat out racing in Bahrain on Saturday night, just 1.8 seconds behind the eventual winner. The GTE Pro class was a fierce battleground at the Sakhir Circuit, illustrated by the number of times the lead changed throughout the race.
Along with his regular team-mate Stefan Mucke, Darren snatched pole position on Friday, setting up a great starting position for the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE for the penultimate round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship.
When the race got underway Darren got away well, maintaining the lead into turn one.
The fight started early though when Gianmaria Bruni squeezed his Ferrari past the Aston Martin later on in the opening lap. The Italian had a somewhat slower start so when Darren was all over the back of an LM P2 battle, Bruni was able to get a good run on him.
Later in that first stint Darren found himself chasing down Bruni but having to defend from Nicky Thiim in a GTE Am-class Aston Martin. With the Am car on softer tyres Darren let it go but by the end of the stint when his own tyres were good he breezed back up into second place.
Unfortunately during the early laps the rear wing structure failed on one side of the #97 Aston Martin so the whole tailgate had to be quickly changed during the first pit stop, adding a 20 second delay.
“To run at the pace we needed to beat the Ferrari we had to go absolutely flat out every lap, which meant we had to do six fuel stops, as apposed to everyone else’s five,” explained Darren. “The strategy worked really well as we were fast throughout our stints and never got into that horrible window of tyre drop off. If we hadn’t lost that 20 seconds then who knows what the result would have been!”
Both Darren and Stefan battled hard with Porsche and Ferrari throughout the six-hour race and during the final half hour Darren locked his sights on the Bruni/Vilander Ferrari and hunted it down.
“We had to push to the very end as we could see the Ferrari dropped off at the end of each stint,” said Darren. “When there is even the smallest chance you have to go for it. It was just too big a gap to close.”
As they crossed the finish line the Ferrari and Aston were separated by just 1.8 seconds after six hours of racing.
“We’ve shown again how close it is in GTE Pro,” said Darren. “The Porsche is right up there but not over a whole stint and the Ferrari is strong throughout. This all bodes well for a great battle when we get to Interlagos for the final race.”