Aston Martin Racing’s Darren Turner was left disappointed after an early puncture foiled his and his team-mates’ chances of claiming a GTE class podium at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Turner shared the #97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage with Stefan Mücke and Le Mans driver Rob Bell, with the hope of improving on the fifth place finished that Turner and Mücke achieved at Silverstone last month.
After qualifying the car third on Friday, Mücke quickly made an impact at the start by taking the class lead on the opening lap. The German driver then controlled the pace for half a stint until he picked up a slow puncture to the left rear tyre.
Although easily amendable, the puncture hampered the team’s strategy by forcing an additional pit stop at the end of the race.
“That wasn’t the easiest race for us,” explained Turner. “It’s frustrating as we could have had a podium at the least and potentially a win today but it only takes one small thing to put you out of contention. We also had some inconsistencies between different sets of tyres so we need to understand how to get consistency from one set to another.”
Although all three drivers were able to retrieve some of the lost time, the extra pit stop ensured that the #97 car would finish fifth for the second race in a row. But, after showing promising pace during qualifying and the race, Turner is confident that his team can turn things around at Le Mans next month.
“We need to focus on Le Mans now,” he said. “It was good to have Rob in the car this weekend as it gives us a fresh set of eyes on where we are with the car and also gives Rob the chance to get up to speed in the Aston. His experience in other cars – and in this car from previous years – is always valuable.”
The result means that Turner and Mücke are now seventh in the FIA World Endurance Cup for GT drivers. Victory for the #99 machine at Spa ensured that Aston Martin Racing leads the GT manufacturer’s standings by a point, ahead of Ferrari and Porsche.