Round 3 of the 2017 European Le Mans Series was a difficult test for Aston Martin works driver, Darren Turner, and the Beechdean AMR team. Although they were podium finishers in the first two rounds, the crew of the #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE had to settle for sixth place at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. They remain in third place in the championship.
Despite the result on Sunday, the Red Bull Ring is one of Turner’s favourite circuits on the European Le Mans Series calendar.
“It’s a fantastic circuit,” he said. “It has really good combinations of corners, good elevation changes and the facility itself is great. It’s always enjoyable to go and race there. There’s one particular corner that I really like – Rindt. It’s just before the pit entrance and it’s technically challenging but very rewarding when you get it right.”
The team managed to find a good race set up for the car during Free Practice so Turner was feeling optimistic for qualifying on Saturday.
“We knew that we wouldn’t be on a par with the competition in terms of outright pace,” said Turner. “It was going to be very tight and then with the track temperature going up during the day the tyre choice wasn’t clear. I went for the softer option but it was probably outside the performance window. Although I was happy with my qualifying laps, I just didn’t have the grip and took sixth place. I actually went faster in the morning on the harder tyre.”
When the race began on Sunday, Andrew Howard was at the wheel of the Aston Martin. He had a fairly trouble free run, aside from cars spinning in front of him! In order to get back into the race it was decided that Turner would run with Howard’s old tyres to save some time in the pits.
“Our tyre strategy was good as it helped to get us back on par with the TF Sport Aston Martin,” said Turner. “It was a bit tricky on the old tyres but I enjoyed my stint. I had good pace and was having a nice battle with Euan (Hankey) in the TF Sport car as we tried to carve our way through the traffic and all the chaos of the LMP3 battles we came across. I think we made a place up at that point overtaking a Porsche so moved up to fifth.”
Ross Gunn was up next and he was doing a great job but he also had to double stint tyres and the drop off in the second hour meant that he fell back to sixth place before the chequered flag fell.
“The team were as great as ever and I think we got as much as we could get out of the weekend,” said Turner. “Let’s regroup and make sure we get to Ricard in a stronger position and hopefully get ourselves back on the podium.”