British sportscar star Darren Turner leads the British GT GT4 championship standings overall following a brace of podium finishes – and two Pro-Am class wins – in a strong Snetterton double-header alongside his Newbridge Motorsport team-mate Matt Topham, last weekend.
It means that the duo now have an eight-point lead in the overall standings going into the final third of the season, and remain undefeated in the Pro-Am class in 2022
It wasn’t all plain-sailing though and Turner and Topham had to fight for it in Norfolk, after a tricky Friday test, when the team lost time to a small engine issue with its Aston Martin Vantage GT4 caused the team to play catch-up on set-up. It also meant some cautious management of their allocation of slick tyres to ensure there was enough fresh rubber reserved for qualifying and the two one-hour races.
Topham qualified 11th for Race One, and immediately set about working his way up through the GT4 pack. Once past the Motus One Racing McLaren, he displayed excellent pace giving Turner a springboard to chase a podium in the second half of the race. Turner emerged from the pits fifth in class thanks to the shorter stops allowed for Pro-Am cars, and steadily worked his way up to second position.
“It was through a combination of racing through the pack and some other cars running into trouble that we found ourselves in second place,” said Turner. “I was pretty happy with that, because ultimately we found ourselves chasing a little bit of pace through the weekend.”
Partly because of this, Turner found himself under attack in the closing stages from their closest title rivals in the Stellar Motorsport Audi.
“Sennan Fielding made a robust move into Turn 1 with four laps to go, and if I’m honest I felt I’d done enough to defend the corner,” explained Turner. “But afterwards the Race Director decided it was a fair move, so we ended up third. But from 11th on the grid, a podium is a great result, and we were more than happy to take that.”
Turner qualified sixth for Race Two and immediately was embroiled in a huge dice up at the front of the class field.
“It was great fun and there was some proper racing going on in the early stages,” he said. “When it’s like that, you are looking behind as well as in front of you and sometimes that can mean you all lose time. So, when the R-Racing Vantage got jumbled down the order and hung out to dry, it was a bit of relief to have a couple of seconds gap behind me to focus on pushing forward.”
Turner pitted from fourth after a typically competitive stint to hand the Newbridge Aston over to Topham, and Matt emerged from the pits with an eight second lead over his GT4 opposition.
“Given some of the Silver drivers behind him, Matt was always going to find it a challenge to maintain that lead and he did an excellent job to hang on for another third place and the Pro-Am class win!” said Turner.
Steller Motorsport also picked up a penalty for speeding in the pits in the second race, which dropped them from sixth to 11th in the second race, helping Turner and Topham to gain that eight-point lead in the overall GT4 standings with just three rounds of the championship left to go.
“We’ve worked hard as a team this season,” said Turner. “Newbridge is still a new, and young team so they are learning all the time. Now we’re coming into the critical phase of the season, it’s important that we make the most of the opportunities that come our way, use the experience gained over the past season and a half, and execute to the best of our ability. If we do that, I think we have a great chance in the last three races of the season.”
Topham and Turner now have nine Pro-Am victories to their name since they began racing together at the beginning of last year and the Newbridge duo enjoy a commanding 24.5-point lead at the top of the Pro-Am points table.
Turner’s next competitive outing comes at Spa-Francorchamps for the seventh round of the British GT Championship on 23-24 July.