British sportscar ace Darren Turner made a glorious return to the Goodwood Revival last weekend, winning the blue riband RAC TT Celebration race in a 1964 AC Cobra he shared with Oliver Bryant.
The hour-long ultra-competitive TT race is among the most important and prestigious historic races on the international calendar and draws star talent from across the racing spectrum, including the likes of 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button and multiple 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Romain Dumas, Andre Lotterer and Emanuele Pirro.
Turner, himself a three-time Le Mans class winner with Aston Martin, had never won the race before and along with car owner Grahame Bryant had determined to put that right this year, having come so close in 2019.
“First of all, it was really nice to be asked back to the race the car again,” said Turner, who along with Oliver Bryant, had run as high as second before they retired two years ago. “Oliver and his father have been trying to win this race since the Revival began, I think. I’m so happy to have been part of them achieving that dream.”
Turner and Bryant had been fast all weekend and missed out on pole from Bill Shephard and Romain Dumas in another Cobra by 0.037s. Alex Buncombe and Button lined up third.
In greasy conditions, Turner made a blinding start from the centre of the front row and shot off into an immediate lead, building up a four second advantage before the Safety Car was called out on lap four to recover a stranded Jaguar E-Type.
“These cars are not easy to drive and I had my hands full,” said Turner. “They don’t like braking, they don’t like going in a straight line and… actually they don’t like going around corners either. Between that, the healing-and-toeing and the greasy conditions it was a proper work-out – but immensely fun.”
At the re-start Turner got his head down and escaped from the pursuing Shephard as Button worked his way back up to third from a poor start, and as the track began to dry slightly Turner was able to re-establish his advantage over the pack before pitting during the pitstop window to hand over to Bryant.
The duo lost the lead in the pits to Dumas whose team had not properly observed the strict 50s time delta each car had to serve in order to ensure the cars were released back on to the track safely.
“We were very careful about that,” said Turner. “We even used a stopwatch! It was obvious they would get a penalty, which they did, but Oliver put in a stunning drive to close the gap anyway and was right with them at the end of the race.
“I love the Revival, so to have won arguably the most important race of the weekend, means an awful lot to me. Thank you to the Bryant family for inviting me to race.”
Turner was also invited to share driving duties in Aston Martin Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman’s 1965 Mini Cooper S for the John Whitmore Trophy, where the duo finished 17th.
“The Minis are always brilliant fun,” said Turner. “This year our car was a little down on power, so it was difficult to race up at the front, but it handled beautifully. That race is always eventful and we went up and down the order like a yo-yo before finishing where we’d started! I have to say Marek did a great job and by the end of his time in the car he’d really found his groove.”
No Revival would be complete without the appearance of the youngest members of the Turner dynasty in the Settrington Cup for Austin J40 pedal cars.
Darren’s eight-year-old daughter Lyla gave a typically crowd-pleasing performance, waving to her fans as she crossed the line in Saturday’s race. Her six-year-old brother Dylan took a very serious approach to his debut on the Sunday, gaining 15 places from his grid slot of 54th which he was keen to point out was drawn from a hat. The performance earned him a McDonalds on the way home.
“I love the whole event,” said Turner afterwards. “The Goodwood Revival is magical, and after missing out because of the pandemic last year, it was great to be back and to see the crowds lining the banking.”
Turner’s attention now switches focus to his Aston Martin Lagonda development duties, before climbing back in to the Vantage GT4 cockpit alongside James Guess with Feathers Motor Sport for the next GT Cup round at Snetterton on 2/3 October.