British sportscar ace Darren Turner returned to one of his happiest hunting grounds when he competed in three different races during Goodwood’s 79th Members’ Meeting event last weekend.
Turner, who always revels in the atmosphere and sense of ‘joie de vivre’ that emanates from the unique blend of racing professionals driving beautiful period machines at a circuit that openly celebrates racing from a purer, simpler time, once again got stuck into a full programme of racing in unfamiliar cars… and he also had a chance to reconnect with an old friend in the form of the Mk1 Turner 950S he once owned.
And, while on this occasion there were no headline results to report back, there were plenty of memories and moments to last a lifetime. Then again that might have been a different story with the Mk1 Turner, which Darren felt might have been a top ten contender if the Weslake Cup had gone differently.
“We started 21st and climbed to 14th by the flag,” explained Turner, “but the race was a bit scrappy and featured two Safety Car periods, and while that gives you triple the fun with all the starts and re-starts, it did make it difficult to build up any momentum. That being said, it was huge fun to reacquaint myself with ‘YXP’ (in reference to the Turner’s registration plate), thanks to Andrew Thornton who was kind enough to let me race it again.
“The Turner probably had the smallest engine on the grid, so while it was super-fast around the corners it lost out a little bit on the straights. But it made for some great racing out there. In some cars Goodwood feels narrow, but when you are racing these things, the car is so small, the track feels wide and it makes for three-way battles so it’s great!”
Turner had high hopes in the Gerry Marshall Trophy, which was a 45-minute race for Group 1 saloon cars that raced between 1970 –’82. Darren re-joined forces with Oliver Bryant, with whom he shared victory in last year’s Goodwood Revival headlining TT Trophy race in a Cobra. This time the pair were in a fearsome Chevrolet Camaro Z28.
"It was probably one of the nicest cars I’ve driven around the Goodwood racetrack,” said Turner. “It had a nice balance between power and grip, and was forgiving, so it worked really well. In some ways, I suppose that makes sense, because it is a rear-wheel drive car with a big engine at the front and I know how to win with those!”
Sadly for Turner, there was to be no victorious repeat on this occasion. He started the race third on the grid, thanks to Bryant’s qualifying effort: “One of the adventures of racing in these Goodwood weekends is that quite often your first experience of a car is during qualifying, so I made a steady start while I was still getting used to it.
“But once I’d settled in, I was really enjoying myself in third position and I was starting to chase down the two leaders. Then unfortunately there was a misfire, which happens in these precious old cars and when that happens you have to pull over. That meant it was a short-lived race for us, but it was great fun while it lasted.”
Turner’s final race was in the Peter Collins Trophy for 1950s sportscars, as sunset crept over the Sussex countryside on Sunday evening. Darren had been invited to race a stunning, Jonathan Turner-entered HWM-Jaguar and he immediately fell in love with the car.
“Again, the first time I experienced it was in qualifying, but it was a lovely thing to drive,” he said. “Unfortunately, I only got four laps in during the session before we ran into some overheating issues, but it was enough to tell me how much potential the car had.”
Having started from fifth on the grid, Turner fought his way up to fourth and was revelling in the car’s poise and balance when sadly the overheating reoccurred, forcing him to stop the car after only a few laps. “I hope I get another chance to drive it,” he said. “If they can sort the cooling out, the HWM could be a real force in that race.
“Sometimes you get weekends like this at Goodwood. With all the love and meticulous preparation that these cars receive, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the fact that most of them are more than 50 years old and they are a little more delicate than those we race every other weekend of the year.
“As ever Goodwood has provided enormous fun. It’s always a wonderful weekend that celebrates racing for racing’s sake without any of the pressure that comes with modern championship competition. It’s great to be able to catch up with so many motorsport friends and just enjoy everything that is good about racing.”
With the Members’ Meeting out of the way, things get serious again for Turner as he looks to begin his British GT Pro-Am Championship title defence with Newbridge Motorsport and Matt Topham in the Aston Martin Vantage GT4. The series begins over Easter weekend, at Oulton Park.