Darren Turner completed the 2014 Spa 24 Hours in a strong 10th place overall today, racing MP Motorsport’s Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. Along with Mark Poole, Richard Abra and Joe Osborne, Turner managed to avoid all the drama of the 2014 event and finish not only in the top 10 overall but in fourth place in class, just shy of the Pro-Am podium.
The top 20 in qualifying at Spa earn themselves a place in the Superpole shootout so Darren was nominated to do just that on Thursday.
“We had the pace to get through to Superpole but we ended up just missing out,” he explained. “With over 60 cars on track I managed to get traffic or yellow flags on every flying lap. It would have been good to get through and it certainly would have made the first hour of the race easier but we were confident that we had the pace amongst us all to have a good race from just outside the top 20.”
It was down to Darren to take the start of the race at 16:30 on Saturday and he soon set about making up the places.
“It was always going to be a frantic start,” he said. “We all know that you can’t win a 24-hour race on the first lap but equally none of us want to give up any positions so it was a case of avoiding trouble but standing your ground. Fortunately it was a clean start and everyone gave each other space.”
Darren made up a fantastic six positions during the first hour, carefully picking off one car after another.
It was after his stint that all the drama began. Numerous safety car periods were called as one big crash after another befell some of the competitors.
“I’ve never seen so many massive accidents in such a short period of time,” said Darren. “Nearly all of them came after a safety car period so you could speculate that cold tyres and low pressures may have helped things along a little. Mark (Poole) was right behind the huge crash at Raidillon so he was lucky to miss that.”
When it came to positions, the MP Motorsport Aston Martin was unlucky with the timing of the safety car periods. When the race was ultimately red flagged after five hours in order for the safety team to go to the aid of the stricken Marcus Mahy at Stavelot, Darren was in the car. This was damaging to the team’s strategy as it came at a time when Darren could be making hay against many of the bronze drivers but in reality they were all sat on the tarmac waiting for the race to restart.
“Once the race got going again we cycled through the drivers,” he said. “We didn’t have any problems and started to pick up a few places again. The car ran faultlessly throughout the race – ok it looks a little beaten up now but that’s perfectly normal after a 24-hour race.
Darren crossed the line at 16:30 on Sunday after 24 hours of hard racing to take 10th place overall and fourth in class.
“It was great to race for the MP Motorsport boys and have the chance to race with Mark, Richard and Joe,” Darren concluded. “Everyone did a great job, nobody made a mistake and that’s exactly what you need to do in a 24-hour race. Now my thoughts are with Marcus (Mahy) and I am hoping that he is able to make a full recovery.”