Darren Turner enjoyed a strong Top 5 finish in yesterday’s six-hour qualification race for next month’s ADAC Zurich 24-Hour race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Turner shared the factory-entered Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 with fellow works drivers Nicki Thiim, Marco Sørensen and Maxime Martin who between them set Aston Martin Racing up for a strong assault on the race they would all love to win.
The qualification race is the perfect preparation for the 24-hour race. A good result guarantees a place in the Top 30 Shootout for the big race, vital at an event that attracts 200+ entries.
“That Top 30 spot is so important,” said Turner. “It means you are given a blue light to place in your car. That may not sound like much but when you are trying to get through the traffic in the race that light makes a huge difference.”
Such is the nature of the 24-hour race, most cars have a four-driver crew. Unlike Le Mans where the Mulsanne Straight provides a welcome opportunity for drivers to catch their breath, the Nordschleife is relentless and drivers are ready for a break after a single stint.
“The only way I can describe it is to say it’s like the most intense arcade game you’ve ever played,” said Turner. “The Nordschleife has 170+ turns so you can’t just turn up and expect to be on the pace. You have to respect the ‘Green Hell’ and that’s why this qualification race is so good as it gives us the chance to get reacquainted.”
All four drivers took a turn in the first qualifying session before Maxime Martin jumped in for the shootout, grabbing eighth place for the start of the race.
The Belgian racer took the start and the team began a programme that cycled through the drivers: Martin, Sørensen, Turner and Thiim. All four had strong, trouble-free runs and the V12 Vantage GT3 – on its factory swansong - ran like a dream. They finished the race in fifth position.
“That was a great result,” said Turner. “Especially when you consider that it is two years since we raced here with the GT3 car. We’re in the backyard of the big German manufacturers who compete here year-in, year-out with multiple entries, so to turn up and be competitive straight away is very encouraging.
“We’ve got time to find before the 24-hour race but we’re in the ball park and we can’t wait to come back and get stuck in next month.”
The ADAC Zurich 24-Hour race takes place on 12/13 May.