Darren Turner got his FIA World Endurance Championship season off to a good start at Silverstone yesterday with a podium finish for Aston Martin Racing.
After qualifying in fifth place on Saturday, it became clear that Darren and his team-mate, Stefan Mucke, would struggle to match the GTE Pro Ferraris and Porsches on outright pace alone. A regulatory tweak to the ride-height of the Aston Martin Vantage GTE over the winter means the team is playing catch up from the off.
Race day looked more hopeful when the team found a small problem overnight which, once fixed, gave Darren and Stefan more confidence and therefore pace from the Vantage.
The air was misty when the 6 Hours of Silverstone got underway on Sunday and the weather would play a big role in the outcome of the race as the engineers had to constantly switch strategies to deal with sudden rain showers.
“I got the jump on the AM class Ferrari that out-qualified us and settled into fifth place behind the second AF Corse Ferrari,” explained Darren. “I could see the battle ahead between Bruni’s Ferrari and the two Porsches but once they were past the Ferrari they were gone. The rain came towards the end of my first stint and I tried to brave it out on slicks in the hope that the track would come back to us.
“The nature of Silverstone is that the track takes forever to dry,” he continued. “So I pitted for wets and did about 12 laps on those before handing over to Stefan when the track dried.”
Mucke did a double stint on slicks and unfortunately lost out when he had to pit for fuel during a safety car period. The regulations only allow a short fill so this put the Aston Martin out of sync in terms of pit stops.
Darren jumped back in and was half way through the second half of a double stint when the heavens opened again. He pitted for wets and to hand over to Stefan for the final run but with the rain only getting worse the decision was taken to red flag the race with 26 minutes left on the clock.
Stefan crossed the line in third place, taking a surprise but hard-earned podium place for the No.97 Vantage.
“We went into the weekend thinking that we would be fifth behind the two Porsches and the two Ferraris so third is a great result,” said Darren. “We’re not where we want to be in terms of pace so we have a lot of work to do but we’re happy with the result. We managed to salvage something when it mattered and that’s great.”