The #95 Aston Martin V8 Vantage had a faultless run to fifth place in the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours in the hands of British racer Darren Turner and his Danish team mates, Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim.
The drivers of the ‘Dane Train’ focused on their race set up during the practice and qualifying sessions so although they took a starting spot of ninth place, it was a good trade off in terms of being ready for the race.
Turner was at the wheel for the start of the 84th running of the world’s greatest endurance race. The weather at Le Mans has been changeable throughout race week so a sudden downpour just before the start was no surprise and was sufficient for the race director to start the race behind the safety car for the first time in history.
“The start was interesting but it was the right decision as on the back straight there was a lot of water hanging in the air,” said Turner. “If we had done a normal start I’m sure there would have been an incident once 60 cars hit the Mulsanne in a ball of spray so the safety car would have had to come out anyway.”
After what seemed like an age behind the safety car the race went green and the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours was finally underway.
“With the sun coming out we were able to switch to slicks quite quickly,” Turner explained. “What we lost in those first few laps we gained back by being one of the first GTE Pro cars to get onto slicks. We then got straight into our programme of double stinting, going as fast as we could but without risking the car.”
The #95 Aston Martin had a faultless run into and right through the night, running like clockwork. It wasn’t until the 20th hour that trouble struck when the car had a punctured tyre caused by the inevitable debris that builds up on the track during an endurance race. The puncture happened at the first Mulsanne Chicane so Turner had to take it very steady on the trip back to the pits, which forced him to forfeit fourth place.
Turner’s 14th Le Mans 24 Hours ended with a fifth place finish after a faultless drive from the Briton and his Danish team mates.
“We were very encouraged by the fact that both of our pro class cars ran reliably,” he said. “Our pace was as good as we could get so fifth and sixth in class was a good result for the team.
“We couldn’t do anything about the performance of the turbo competitors and hopefully going forward in the championship there will be some adjustment in the playing field. We were happy with our performance but from a sporting side it was a two-tier class so that was disappointing. From the team side though the entire crew worked incredibly hard all weekend, gave us a great car and a tremendous performance in the pits. They were outstanding.”
The Le Mans result gives Aston Martin Racing a nine-point lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers. The WEC battle resumes at the Nürburgring on 24 July.