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Poignant weekend full of magical Members' Meeting memories for Turner

British sportscar star Darren Turner returned to one of his favourite circuits as Goodwood hosted the 80th Members’ Meeting, which proved to be an event full of magical memories both new and old for the 2023 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona class winner.

Among the highlights was the opportunity for Darren to drive the mighty 6-litre V12-engined ex-works Aston Martin Racing DBR9, with which he won the GT1 class of the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside David Brabham and Rickard Rydell, during a high-speed demonstration run on each day of the weekend.

“It was a really magic experience,” said Darren, “especially driving it at sunset.

“I’ve driven the #009 a couple of times since we won with it, but it’s always a special feeling to be back in that car. Everything I loved about it just comes flooding back. It was just a wonderful car to drive.”

For Turner, so much about the car was just as it had been back when he was racing in earnest. In fact, Darren even had to employ one of his old tricks to bring it on-song… “As I left the collecting area, I was thinking. ‘I don’t remember the steering being this heavy.’ Then I had a thought about halfway around the lap… ‘Hang on the power steering is on fuse number three… ah yes, I need to take the fuse out, wait a couple of seconds, then put it back in’ and then… ah yeah! It worked!’”

The fact that Turner was given the honour of leading out the demonstration in the car that gave him the first of his three Le Mans class victories also gave rise to an additional but perhaps unintended sprinkle of joy. 

“Behind me in the demo was the Prodrive-run Ferrari 550 Maranello that I raced at Le Mans alongside Colin McRae and Rickard back in 2004, so I was driving my first winning car, and then I had another that I’d raced in my mirrors. It was as if Goodwood put on a special day just for me.”

The Members’ Meeting also provided an opportunity for Turner to help an old friend make some magical memories of his own. Darren shared driving duties with Ford Lotus Cortina Mark 1 owner Craig Jamieson in the Jim Clark Trophy on Sunday.

Jamieson is a former Aston Martin Lagonda vehicle engineer who worked with Darren on several programmes over the years, including the beautiful DB11. Craig has been restoring his Cortina for some time and the immaculately finished project represents a symbol of emotional significance and a genuine labour of love. So, to be able to race it at Goodwood was a special treat for them both.

“The car was beautiful” said Turner, “and it was competitive too. We were able to qualify eighth with it, which given that there were 29 cars in a strong field was more than we expected.”

Jamieson started the race and held his own well in a field that featured a mixture of professionals and owners. “The plan was for Craig to stay out as long as he was enjoying himself, rather than come in as soon as the pitstop window opened,” explained Turner. “And he did all the right things, including staying out of trouble; the last thing we wanted was to bring the car back battered and bruised with all those touring car drivers out there!

“He brought the car in around 16th on the road, and I fought my way back inside the top ten in my stint.”

Turner found himself embroiled in an entertaining scrap with nine-times Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, 2012 World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff and British Touring Car runner-up Jake Hill.

“Towards the end of the race, Tom and myself had both got past Rob, and I was right on Tom’s tail when he had a mis-shift on the way out of the chicane. That lost him momentum, which cost me time too and Rob got back by me. Then on the penultimate lap I tried to go around the outside of Rob again going into Woodcote but didn’t manage it and I got out-manoeuvred by Jake. I wasn’t about to let the cars touch, so I just went on the grass as there wasn’t room for two of us, and I dropped back again. But then I got past Rob again on the final lap when he had an engine issue.

“Eventually we finished ninth and if anyone had said to us before the weekend we would be in the top ten, we would have taken that! Craig had a great weekend, and the car is all in one piece ready to race again!”

The next racing action comes thick and fast for Darren Turner as he returns to the ‘Green Hell’ with Dörr Motorsport in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 for the qualifying race ahead of the 2023 ADAC Nürburgring 24 Hours, which takes place next month.


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