Despite spending much of the British GT race at Rockingham defending hard and struggling with grip issues, Darren Turner and Andrew Howard were delighted to inherit a podium finish.
Turner & Howard drove the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin to fourth place at the chequered flag but, just a few hours later, was awarded the podium position when the TF Sport car received a 30-second post-race penalty.
The wet weather on Saturday had made what was already a green track extra slippery, and Howard and Turner qualified the #99 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in eighth place for the start of Sunday’s two-hour race.
Howard started the race and made an excellent getaway, moving up a place on the opening lap by making a move on a Bentley before gaining another place and holding the sixth position.
The safety car was deployed throughout the race, making the first of many appearances at the 20-minute mark while a McLaren was being recovered from the track.
Despite all of the action going on around him, Howard stayed focused, trading positions throughout the opening stint. He came into the pits in fifth to hand the Aston Martin over to Turner.
“The opening stint went well,” said Howard. “It is great to be back in British GT as you get close racing and excellent driving standards. The safety cars, although they give you a breather, also break your momentum, so the car struggled for grip after both of those. I was happy to make it to the end of my run in fifth place.”
Turner joined the race and was running in third position once everyone had completed a pit stop, but he too reported that he was struggling for grip. “We have been on the back foot this weekend,” said Turner.
“From the word go in that stint there was no front end grip so even getting the car slowed down to turn in was difficult.
“That then means that you keep missing the apex, which makes defending a tough thing to do, and after my first run behind the safety car I could not get back up to full speed quick enough,” he explained.
The Aston Martin Racing works driver then had a very tough stint trying to defend his position, “It took a few laps to get the performance back, and when that happens, it is a real struggle to keep anyone behind you.”
Turner’s closing laps of the two-hour race included a 10-lap battle with Callum Macleod’s Bentley, and on the penultimate lap, Turner ran wide at turn 4, which meant the Bentley had the edge on the Aston Martin in the run-up to turn 5. The Bentley slipped past as Turner battled to get his front end turned in.
Andrew Howard summed up the Rockingham result, saying “The result was far better than we expected but not as good as we hoped!”
Turner then added, “After qualifying, if you’d said we would finish fourth on the track then that would have been a very good result,” said Turner. “Although we did not get it on the track we were awarded third place after the race, along with some very welcome extra points.
“Of course, I am disappointed that I was not able to defend right up until the flag, but we were saved by this post-race penalty!”
The British GT Championship resumes in four weeks’ time with a double-header of 60-minute races at Snetterton in Norfolk.