Darren Turner, along with his Aston Martin Racing team-mates Stefan Mucke and Pedro Lamy, finished the 2015 Nürburgring 24 Hours in 16th place today after a mid-race accident put the #007 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 out of contention for the top results.
Stefan drew #1 in the traditional draw for the Top 30 shootout positions and put in a great lap, which ultimately put the Aston Martin in 12th place on the grid. The German was at a slight disadvantage as the team kept back their allocation of soft tyres for the cooler running in the night.
Starting duties fell to Darren this year and despite a good getaway he was out-dragged by a couple of Mercedes on the way to Turn One.
“There isn’t a lot you can do about that,” he explained. “Rule No.1 for a successful Nürburgring 24 Hours is to make it to the end of the race with no penalties and no damage. There’s no way I was getting into any door banging on lap one!”
It wasn’t long before Darren had to avoid more drama but this time it came at him from both sides. Just a few laps into the race he saw that a slow car ahead had backed everyone up. At this point he was running behind the Falken Porsche and had to slam on his brakes as the Porsche braked hard. First accident averted.
Unfortunately when he looked in his rear view mirror he saw a Mercedes and a Bentley coming towards him at full tilt so he quickly pulled across onto the grass. Second accident averted!
“It was just one of those situations where you think you’re out of danger but then you see it heading your way very quickly,” said Darren. “Anyone who has ever had to slam on their brakes on a motorway knows what I’m talking about!”
The race then settled into a good rhythm for the #007 Aston Martin with some tough decisions having to be made on tyre choice as intermittent rain made sure the circuit was different on almost every lap.
Then, in the middle of the night, at the half-way point of the race, Stefan came around a corner just before the Carousel which had just had a dousing of oil and couldn’t avoid going off the track, joining three other cars who had all suffered the same fate.
“There was oil down on the circuit and with the other cars stopped and no indication of a problem from the marshals, Stefan couldn’t avoid an accident,” Darren explained. “I thought it was game over and had started to pack up my gear but I was wearing a headset and I suddenly heard ‘I’ve got it started. I’m coming back’, so the team leapt into action!”
The car returned with front and rear damage but a tremendous effort from the Aston Martin Racing mechanics had Darren back on track in just 45 minutes. He went cautiously for a few corners after such large repairs but the team had done an amazing job and the car ran like clockwork until the chequered flag.
“All we could do from that point is go flat out to try to make up some positions,” said Darren. “I think we re-joined in around 26th place so to work our way back through to 16th was a great job by all. Just getting to the end of this race is an achievement in itself. You need everything to go your way to get a top result though and this just wasn’t our year.”