Le Mans Eight Hour Report - Aston Martin Running Competitively at Le Mans After Eight Hours

Saturday, June 16, 2012

One-third of the way into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Aston Martin Racing’s #97 Vantage GTE remains in contention for a strong result as the setting sun plunges the Circuit de la Sarthe into darkness. In the fiercely competitive GTE Pro class, the V8-powered machine of factory drivers Darren Turner (GB), Stefan Mücke (D) and Adrian Fernandez (MX) holds sixth position.

The #97 Vantage GTE had led the GTE Pro class soon after the fourth hour. When Turner pitted to make way for team-mate Fernandez, the Mexican rejoined in third position. A heavy collision between a prototype and a GTE Am competitor after the fifth hour necessitated a lengthy safety car period as the barriers were repaired; the team used this opportunity to pit Fernandez to refuel the Vantage GTE and replace and bleed the brakes.

Doing so behind the safety car limited the time loss, but such is the pace in the GTE Pro class that the car dropped out of the podium positions. An hour and ten minutes after the safety car first came out, it eventually peeled back into the pitlane, enabling Fernandez to begin closing the deficit to the fifth-placed GTE Pro competitor.

After 89 laps, Fernandez pitted once again to make way for Mücke, who had started the race from second position on the grid seven hours previously. Mücke set about chasing down his GTE Pro rivals as he recorded successive class-leading lap times. 109 laps into the race, the #97 car lies sixth in class. The #99 Vantage GTE – run in partnership with Young Driver AMR in the GTE Am class – was forced to retire from the race after six hours due to accident damage.

After his lengthy stint behind the wheel, Turner said: “I struggled a little with a soft brake pedal early in my stint, but as I learnt to drive around it I started to have a lot of fun. Aside from that minor issue, the Vantage GTE has been really good to drive, which enabled me to fight hard with the #74 car.

“We had a good, clean battle over many laps; I was quicker on the straights so I could get past, but the other car was strong in the braking zones. We’ve changed our brakes now so we shouldn’t have any issues with them anymore and Stefan will be able to make some progress through the field.”

Keep up to date with the 24-hour race on Aston Martin’s official website at www.astonmartin.com/racing, or on its social media platforms at www.twitter.com/amr_official and www.facebook.com/astonmartinracing.

Aston Martin Racing
Image Richard Leach
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