An inch-perfect performance and an extremely well-judged team strategy ensured that British endurance racing ace Darren Turner earned his second British GT GT4 overall class win in as many races, at Silverstone, on Sunday.
Sharing the now familiar Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 with his fellow reigning GT4 Pro-Am champion Matt Topham, Turner crossed the line at the end of the Silverstone 500 – the series’ blue riband event – nearly 25 seconds clear of his nearest rival. The victory firmly establishes the Newbridge duo as a potent force in the overall 2022 GT4 title hunt, and it comes at the same event which provided Turner and Topham with their first win as a driver pairing last season.
“You don’t get races as clean as this very often, and you have to savour them when you do,” said Turner afterwards. “We did everything right today, while most of our rivals either tripped up or ran into issues, we had a perfectly clear run. That, combined with Matt’s strong long first stint, really put us in a position to command the race. I’m so pleased with how this one has come together.”
Qualifying was based on Topham and Turner’s combined times, and they lined up sixth on the grid. Topham took the start and dropped a couple of positions during a chaotic first lap, but he stayed out of trouble and began to work his way back into contention as the race settled down.
“Once Matt has got over the excitement of the first lap he put in an excellent stint,” explained Turner. “We went long for both of our first stints, and that’s not easy to do, but Matt kept the pace up, stayed with the leaders and provided an excellent foundation for us to build the race on.”
Topham pitted around the turn of the hour, handing the car over to Turner in third with fresh tyres. Variable rival strategies dropped Turner down the order to sixth, and right into traffic at the start of his stint. “I emerged from the pits in the middle of a dogfight between a Ford and a BMW and that took me five or six laps to clear,” he explained. “Then I got my head down and focused on my long stint.
“We ran off sync to everyone else a little but that meant we were able to drive in clean air and set some fast lap times. This paid us back later in the race.”
By the time it was Turner’s turn to pit, the Aston Martin was in the lead. The Newbridge Motorsport car is entered as a Pro-Am, which allows it to stay stationary for 14 seconds less time in the pits than the Silver GT4 runners. It meant Topham was fully in the mix when he returned for his short final stint, which he completed without incident before handing back to Turner.
“When I got back in the car with about 18 minutes left, the team came on the radio and said: ‘You have a nice 20 second lead.’ That felt so good to hear, and I knew then that we were in a really strong position. We still have some things to learn about the car and the tyres over one-lap pace, but when the little Vantage is carrying full tanks it’s beautifully balanced and a joy to drive. I had a lot of fun out there.”
The Silverstone result was the third overall GT4 win for Topham and Turner in the series, and their second of the season. They now have six Pro-Am victories to their name amid 11 visits to the podium since they began racing together. The Newbridge duo went into the Silverstone race second overall in the GT4 standings, but an investigation into the opening rounds at Oulton Park have rendered the points provisional, and no clarification will be issued until after the hearing. Nevertheless, Turner’s win at Silverstone will stand regardless and when the points are applied, he will head to the next round at Donington Park in a very strong position.
“We needed to make this one count,” said Turner. “We had a tough first race at Oulton when we also had the pace to win, and we knew we could do something special at Silverstone and we didn’t want to lose that opportunity. It was nice to replicate last year’s win here, and I must say, I am now really looking forward to the rest of the season with Matt and the team.”
Turner’s next competitive outing comes in the fourth round of the British GT Championship round on 28-29 May at Donington Park.