Darren Turner and his Aston Martin Racing team-mate, Stefan Mucke, took a decisive win in yesterday’s fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The six-hour race ran into the night but darkness was no problem for the WEC contenders. The problem came when they ran into a wall of water during the second hour when a massive storm hit Austin.
The weekend got off to a good start for Darren when he and Stefan powered through to second place in qualifying, just behind the championship-leading Ferrari. The session started wet but dried throughout the run, which made for tricky conditions, but a strong performance by both drivers locked the #97 Aston Martin onto the front row of the grid.
When the race got underway, Stefan immediately made a move on (Gianmaria) Bruni, taking the lead at turn one. The GT battle was so tight that after an hour of flat out racing he managed to eke out a small yet vital five-second lead over the Ferrari before handing the Aston Martin over to Darren.
“The first three laps of my stint were tricky as I had a lot of LMP traffic and we had lost out to the Ferrari in the pits,” explained Darren. “Once we cleared the traffic I got my head down, closed in on Toni (Vilander) and made the move at turn 12. Then the heavens opened!
“The rain was torrential and I saw at least 10 cars go off, including the overall leader, so I was very conscious of making sure I stayed on the track. It was a bit disappointing that we didn't get a full course yellow quicker as that could have saved a lot of the cars. The race was eventually red flagged and I was able to breathe a small sigh of relief.”
When the race restarted the GTE battle continued at full force. Vilander got the jump on Darren, who swiftly took back the lead but then both the Ferrari and Aston Martin got jumped by two Porsches, which were stronger in the wet conditions.
The last two hours of the race presented Darren with tough driving conditions: high temperatures, high humidity and a battle for the lead. With around an hour to go he made a stunning move, going around the outside of the lead Porsche into turn one and never looked back.
“To come here and win after the disappointment of Le Mans is fantastic,” said Darren. “I’m so proud of the guys on the #97 car. The whole team did a tremendous job here in difficult conditions. We managed to keep it all together and come out on top.
“It was a hard race and we had everything thrown at us today but a great strategy from the team and some hard driving from us got the result. It always feels good to win but we worked very hard for this one so I think we can safely say we deserved it!”