Turner taking the few positives he can from a difficult Fuji

Turner taking the few positives he can from a difficult Fuji

Darren Turner and his Aston Martin Racing team mate, Jonny Adam, finished the 6 Hours of Fuji in sixth place in the GTE Pro class on Sunday. Held at Fuji Speedway in Japan, Round 7 of the FIA World Endurance Championship was stopped after 4.5 hours due to bad weather and peppered with safety cars, red flags and slow zones.

“We knew before we arrived that it was going to be a difficult weekend when we saw the weather forecast,” said Turner. “The Fuji circuit is always a challenge but it becomes all the more so when it is wet.”

The weather was bad throughout the event but the weather gods saved their best for last on race day, delivering rain and fog for the start of the race.

The race started under the Safety Car with Adam behind the wheel of the #97 Aston Martin, which had lined up in eighth position. Shortly after the conclusion of the first hour the race was red flagged as the fog had caused the conditions to become too treacherous. The entire field of WEC cars lined up on the start/finish straight to await a break in the weather, which came along 30 minutes later.

“This race was completely different to anything we have seen for a while,” said Turner. “We had two red flags, six safety cars and slow zones all over the place! With the pace that we had we were never going to be able to fight at the front so our strategy was designed to make the most of any scenario that would give us an advantage.”

The team did a great job of maximising those opportunities and Turner and Adam were able to complete the race in sixth place when it was red flagged for the second and final time at the 4.5 hour mark.

“Sixth place is obviously not the best result but we scored some points in a difficult weekend,” said Turner. The focus is now very much on Shanghai where hopefully the weather will be better!”

Source material - Darren Turner PR
Monday, October 16, 2017 |
Fuji - one to forget for Aston Martin Racing

Fuji - one to forget for Aston Martin Racing

It wouldn't be far wrong to suggest that the best things to come out of the 6 hours of Fuji as far as Aston Martin Racing were concerned would be just a cracking set of photographs for the family album!

Having arrived at the Fuji Speedway already as rank outsiders to retain their GTE Pro titles, the void between their venerable V8 Vantage and the newer Ferrari's, Porsche's and Ford's with their superior Michelin full wet tyres was all too evident again as the six other cars within the GTE Pro all left the #95 and #97 cars languishing at the foot of the Free Practice sessions timings screen.

With each of the Free Practice sessions being wet, a wet Qualifying going into an expected very wet race wasn't looking very good for the team already suffering from grip and traction problems and it came as no real surprise to see their two Pro cars qualifying in P6 and P8 - split only by the #71 Ferrari who had issues of their own on track.

Over in Am class, the performance of the team's championship leading #98 car wasn't fairing much better either with the usually reliable trio of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla-Lana and Mathias Lauda all struggling to keep up with their own advisories in class, but would at least be starting the race mid way in their group.

Sunday was again a very wet affair with the opening 15 minutes of the race spent behind the Safety Car. Early radio traffic from some of the drivers in the GT pack commented on the poor visibility available to them even at those lower speeds - comments clearly earmarked for Race Control.

With all having had to hold station behind the Safety Car, such were the handling issues for the AMR's that the Pro cars quickly found themselves amongst and being passed by the leading trio of Am cars - notably the two Ferrari 488's and by the end of the first half hour of racing they were down to P7 and P8.

With a near zero wind speed, all the moisture being catapulted into the amphitheatre of the Fuji circuit left a lingering cloud/fog base leading to significant visibility issues going into T1. Indeed, after just 40 minutes of racing Race Control effected an elongated Yellow zone for most of Sector 1

Unfortunately for the race that proved insufficient and that track restriction was soon escalated into a full Safety Car period for the next thirty minutes before the race was then suspended under a red flag with 4hours 40mins still to go. With the race clock still running a further half an hour of race time would be lost to the enforced break.

Once the race resumed the pain simply continued for the team in green despite all of their best efforts, on track and within the garages. Race positions were interchanged with other but they were mainly due to the other team's pit sequence of penalty serving requirements - Fuji was going to be a long day at the WEC office.

Thirty minutes after the restart came the second and a quick third Safety Car period all due to visibility issues ion track and they would last for another 50 minutes or so with slow zones restrictions in force afterwards. A sizeable crash for an LMP2 car after the restart was only narrowly avoided by the #95 with blinded #98 finding itself travelling through the debris field before a fourth Safety Car was brought out to deal with the consequences of that.

Some track shenanigans between the #67 Ford and #92 Porsche started with a spinning 911 RSR before the #67 went on to spear itself into the barrier under braking at T1 leading to a FCY to recover the stricken car.

With just over 100 minutes of racing time remaining, the first and final point of racing note for AMR came as Thiim was having a 'decent looking' scrap with the #71 Ferrari for position - albeit for P6 however the writing was already on the wall for the race as Safety Car no 5 was again deployed because of the poor visibility.

As the race clock struck 1:29:00 to go the second red flag of the race was served and although Race Control spent the remaining time trying to get the race restarted the race was finally abandoned with 15 minutes left.

The results from Fuji have lost the #95 any chance of retaining their 2016 titles and more importantly cost the #98 the lead of the Am Championship with two races to go with the penultimate round of the WEC coming from Shanghai in just over two weeks time. With the race also being declared wet there is little chance of any positive BoP adjustments being made prior to Shanghai.

For the Pro guys, it sounds like its back to Spain for some more testing with their new for 2018 GTE with full emphasis looking ahead to next season whilst the #98 Am side of the team look for improvements at another race venue that maybe wet.

Photo credits - AMR

Monday, October 16, 2017 |
CMRT Eurasia - Blancpain GT Asia Champions!!

CMRT Eurasia - Blancpain GT Asia Champions!!

Congratulations go out today to the CMRT by Eurasia team and drivers Kenneth Lim and James Cai who earlier today secured their second class win of the weekend to claim the Blancpain GT Asia GT3 Am Class Championship.

Having entered the final meeting of the series at the Zhejiang Circuit, China with a twelve point deficit to the long time class leading Lamborghini, these two race wins were enough to overcome this and to secure (subject to official confirmation) the GT3 Am Class title by five points.

Racing in conditions similar to what was seen at the WEC event at Fuji this morning, Lim was able to capitalise from an early error from Andrew Haryanto in his Lamborghini after the earlier Safety Car starting procedure to lead Haryanto by nearly thirty seconds at the end of the first lap!

That domination extended during the course of the race for Cai to take the chequered flag and the championship by over 15 seconds to P2 and 34 seconds to Haryanto in P3.

Well done guys!
Sunday, October 15, 2017 |
Winner takes all in Blancpain GT Asia GT3 Am finale

Winner takes all in Blancpain GT Asia GT3 Am finale

The best way to keep your championship aspirations alive going into the final two races of the season is by placing yourself on the top step of your class podium at the end of race one - obviously!

That is precisely what the #69 CMRT by Eurasia car did and by starting at the rear of the grid makes their efforts even more applaudable as driver Kenneth Lim and James Cai overcame a difficult preparation to the race weekend to overtake the whole GT3 Am class and beat the championship leader Andrew Haryanto by over 18 seconds at the end of a very wet and incident packed race.

That result leaves the #69 V12 Vantage GT3 crew just five points behind Haryanto going into tomorrows final race of the season, this time separated by just a single place on the grid.

Winner takes all ……………!!

Photo credit - Blancpain GT
Saturday, October 14, 2017 |
Hoping for better track conditions tomorrow in WEC

Hoping for better track conditions tomorrow in WEC

Why is it it never rains at Fuji Speedway - it just pours down?!!!

Sadly for all runners, track workers and race fans at the circuit that is basically what it did all day today dramatically affecting the first two Free Practice sessions of the meeting.

FP1 was the best of the bunch - still wet but manageable seemed to the voice of opinion coming from the circuit earlier this morning. In almost Aston Martin Racing characteristic style, all three V8 Vantage GTE cars featured towards the rear of the timing charts in both classes as the team methodically cycled through their setup programme expected for the 6hours of Fuji.

In GTE Pro, the conditions were such that the fastest lap times during FP1 were over seven seconds down to those of this stage last year. Sadly conditions worsened still further for Free Practice 2 to a point where a sizeable off for an LMP2 car lost the grid almost half of their available track time - not that track time was actually worth much with GTE Pro times dropping a further five seconds from FP1 to what was ran in 2016!

If weather conditions persist, and all indications point that they might well do then the event will turn into a survival of the fittest come the race with race strategy being more more reactionary than by design.

Lets hope not as the Japanese fan deserves more

Tomorrow sees the third and final Free Practice before Qualifying at 14:30hrs local (GMT -8Hrs)

Photo credits - AMR
Friday, October 13, 2017 |
More of please in 2018

More of please in 2018

It was great to see, even though only via some sporadic photographs posted upon various social media streams this week of the complete family of Beechdean AMR cars running at a British race track venue.

Reliably informed of the day being a corporate day for one of the team's partner company's, Beechdean drivers past and present in the form of Andrew Howard, Ross Gunn, Jamie Chadwick and Olly Bryant were all on hand to show off the teams DBRS9, Vantage GT4, Vantage GT3 and Vantage GTE for those at the circuit.

Reading of what the team hope to achieve in 2018, the infamous blue and white livery should be a little more conspicuous both the the UK and in Europe next year.

Thats always a welcome sight!
Friday, October 13, 2017 |
Pivotal race for AMR at Fuji

Pivotal race for AMR at Fuji

With just three races of the 2017 World Endurance Championship season remaining and the closest Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE featuring some 25 points in arrears to the GTE Pro Championship leader, this weekends race from under the shadows of Mount Fuji, Japan is really a make or break race for the team and their 2017 championship aspirations.

Whilst its a game of catch up in GTE Pro the teams #98 car holds a slender lead over in GTE Am with just six points covering the top three cars, any of whom have any chance of lifting that title in that ultra competitive class.

Since the last round of the WEC over in America a month ago most of the GTE Pro crew have been on extended testing duties over in the UK and Spain as the team make their final adaptations to their new for 2018 GTE chariot.

With any further changes to the auto BOP yet being publicly confirmed the only changes within the team that we know of should be the return to the Sterling Green and lime livery for the #97 Pro car as well as the reduction to a two driver format for the first time this season as Daniel Serra returns home to full fill his domestic stock car racing duties. That leaves Darren Turner and Jonny Adam aboard as they look to overcome their handling issues that have blighted the car since their Le Mans 24Hr win back in June.

Danish crew Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim presently lead the AMR charge in defence of the GTE Pro titles in their #95 car, just two points ahead of the sister #97 car but both Pro cars will be looking to improve upon their finishing record from last time out at the Fuji Speedway when P5 and P6 finishes were the best they could offer. A class win has to be the target for either car to have any chance in the championship.

Don't forget to keep a look out for Thiim's charitable auction for his 2015 LM24 race suit.

For Mathias Lauda, he's arrived at the circuit slightly on the back foot after not having gained as much post travel recuperation as he had originally intended after being stranded in France by an air traffic controllers strike hitting his connective flights earlier this week.

With Fuji 8 hours ahead of BST, track action will begin sooner than you think with Free Practice 1 starting in little under 8 hours from now and for Sunday's race it will be an early start for those in continental Europe with an 11am local start!

Looking forward to it.

Photo credits - AMR / WEC

Thursday, October 12, 2017 |
Please support Nicki Thiim's charitable auction

Please support Nicki Thiim's charitable auction

This Friday will see Nicki Thiim offer for sale by auction his Aston Martin Racing race suit worn at the 2015 Le Mans 24hour as well as three 'Fans kits' kindly donated by the ACO all in aid of the earthquake relief effort that is still underway in central Mexico and the rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

"After racing in Mexico and Texas for the 6 Hours of Mexico & COTA, I am happy to auction my racing suit to help the families affected by the recent natural disasters in these areas. I want to give to those who still need support" says Thiim on his website.

The link to the host Ebay auction will be placed on his webpage HERE this Friday (13th October)

Please help as much as you can.

Thank you guys for your opening your hearts and wallets. Go Hard Or GO Home!”

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 |
Revised driver line up for Beechdean AMR at ELMS finale

Revised driver line up for Beechdean AMR at ELMS finale

The provisional entry list released today for the final round of the 2017 European Le Mans Series at Portimao in two weeks time has indicated a slight driver change for outgoing GTE Champions Beechdean AMR.

Having finally battled their way back to the GTE Class podium last time out at Spa Francorchamps, the entry lists sadly omits the name of Ross Gunn from the red, white and blue V8 Vantage GTE in favour of young German Immanuel Vinke who now joins team boss Andrew Howard and Darren Turner in Portugal.

Lately of Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup experience with the #32 Am Class Zakspeed team, the twenty two year old silver ranked driver also has experience in the European GT4 Series but nothing of note in any GTE car unless of course he tested with the team at two recent AMR/AML tests at both Snetterton and Silverstone!

Twenty four points behind the class leading TF Sport car, the #99 crew do of course have the slightest of chances of retaining their crown should they take maximum points and those around them 'drop like flies'.

We understand that this move is a pre-cursor from the team's announced expansion into a number of other national and european GT racing series in 2018.

Photo credits - BES / ELMS
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 |