Round Five of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship turned out to be one of those races where some drivers wished WEC used drop scores. Unfortunately for Darren Turner he was one of them.
Bad weather made a large hole in the on track preparations for all of the WEC teams and the second practice session even had to be stopped after what can only be described as a biblical rain storm at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
With Darren’s regular team-mate Stefan Mucke nursing injuries from a crash in the Barcelona 24 Hours, the Aston Martin duo were joined by long-time friend and racing rival, Corvette’s Oliver Gavin. With practice time already cut the three drivers had little chance to prepare for the race ahead.
Darren and Olly qualified the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE in sixth place and the strategy was set for Darren to start the race.
“I had a good start up to Turn One, making up two places,” he explained. “Unfortunately the two cars ahead of me then tripped over each other so I had to practically stop and this dropped me to seventh. There was a safety car early on in the race and once that went in I made it up to sixth. It was nose-to-tail for the remainder of that stint and I was having to hang onto the car as it had some oversteer.”
First Stefan and then Olly followed up Darren’s opening stint with smooth runs and as the race entered its fourth hour Darren was back out on track, reeling in the No.92 Porsche of championship rival Marc Lieb. Just as he looked set to take fourth place from the Porsche Darren discovered that the kerbs at the Circuit of the Americas have a nasty bite.
“Here they have extra kerbs inside the normal kerbs,” explained Darren. “They don’t look like much but when you hit them they do a lot of damage and it pushed the damper through the strut so as soon as you hit it you know it’s game over straight away.
“It’s a massive disappointment,” he continued. “We were leading the championship when we got here but we haven’t had the best of weekends in terms of raw pace but at that time I was hunting down the Porsche and putting in some good laps times. I made a small mistake and it has cost us dear.”
The Aston Martin Racing team actually fixed the car and were ready to send No.97 back out to collect a few points but were stopped by officials.
“It’s very frustrating when the guys do a great job in repairing the car to then be stopped from going back out to achieve enough distance to score some points,” said Darren. “The Spirit of Le Mans means that you do everything you can to get the car to the end of the race and that chance was taken away from us yesterday. That decision could have a big impact on our championship.”
In terms of the driver’s championship Darren and Stefan now lie in third place behind Ferrari’s Bruni and Fisichella and Porsche’s Lieb and Lietz but there are only a handful of points in it and three races remaining.