Darren Turner’s first full season in the British GT Championship got off to a flying start over the Easter weekend when he and his Beechdean AMR team mate, Andrew Howard, took a podium finish in the first race. The second race of the weekend turned out to be a washout, with heavy rain making it unsafe to unleash almost 40 GT cars around a very slippery Oulton Park.
Qualifying was tight on Saturday and whilst Howard took fifth place in the ‘AM’ session, Turner took seventh during the ‘PRO’ running.
“Andrew did a great job in his session and although I was only half a second off I was seventh in mine so one of the things we need to do before Rockingham is look at our qualifying set up to see if we can find a bit more pace,” said Turner. “When you’re hunting for just a couple of tenths you don’t need to make a big set up change to find that sweet spot.”
Howard took the start for Race One on a cold, wet and slippery track and he did a sterling job, staying on the tarmac as others slid off, then made his way up to third place before handing the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 over to Turner once the pit window opened.
“Great stint by Andrew,” said Turner. “Especially the move he made on the Bentley into the Knickerbrook Chicane. I joined the race in third place and quite soon after that was promoted to second when the Lamborghini in front of us had to pit with accident damage. After that my mirrors were filled with a Mercedes for much of the remainder of the race. We were evenly matched on the clear parts of the track so it all came down to traffic management. Other than a little bit of contact at the last turn of the last lap it was a good, clean battle and it was nice to cross the line in P2.”
Like Race One before it, Race Two was started under the Safety Car and it was so wet that some cars didn’t even make it to the grid without going off!
“The conditions were bad for the start of Race Two,” explained Turner. “Even following the Safety Car at reduced speed I was aquaplaning and when it gets like that it turns it into a lottery and nobody wants to see a load of beautiful GT cars all smashed up. Abandoning the race was the right choice by the organisers. It’s not something that happens very often but they made the right call.”
“Second place in Race One was a nice way to start the championship,” he concluded. “I’m also very happy for Aston Martin as they took first and second place in the first race so that bodes well for a good season ahead of us.”