Aston Martin Racing works driver, Darren Turner, declared himself happy with the international race debut of the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE at the WEC ‘6 Hours of Spa’ on Saturday.
After eight months of intensive testing, the new car debuted at the first round of the 2018-19 WEC Super Season. The name of the game was to have a strong run in a competitive environment ahead of the second race of the season, which is the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“As with any new endurance racing car, durability is the first thing to get right,” said Turner. “That’s what our focus has been in testing so it was great to finally go up against our competition and go racing with the new car.”
The 6 Hours of Spa provided the team with a good opportunity to run the three-man driver crews that will take on the challenge of Le Mans next month. It also provided the whole team with an opportunity to run the Vantage GTE in a competitive environment for the first time.
“We weren’t expecting to be running at the front,” said Turner. “Our objective was to make sure both cars made it to the chequered flag and gather the valuable data that comes from a race situation.”
Nicki Thiim started the race in the #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, followed by Marco Sørensen and then Turner. After six hours of racing, the car crossed the line in seventh place.
“There is no way we were going to keep up with the Fords and the Porsches,” said Turner. “We wanted to be mistake-free and run a strong strategy that could take advantage of every possibility thrown up by a race full of safety cars and full course yellows.
“It was also important for us to get into the routine of running with the 18 tyres we can use over a six-hour period. It’s so complicated in terms of understanding how the race will pan out as it’s now completely unlikely that any driver is up against a driver with the same combination of tyres at any one given time.”
The new Vantage GTE ran faultlessly throughout the race so Turner was pleased with the performance of the car and of course the whole Aston Martin Racing team.
“The car felt very consistent and feels like a big step up from the old Vantage GTE,” he concluded. “It clearly has lots of potential and that is what we are working to untap. Now we will focus on preparing the cars for when we take it to Le Mans for the first time in a few weeks’ time.”
The Le Mans Test Day takes place on Sunday 3 June.