WEC Silverstone

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter weekend saw the opening round of the 2014 World Endurance Championship at the Northamptonshire circuit.

With the teams already having the two previous free practice sessions and set up under a warm and sunny sky the 6Hours of Silverstone entry arrived at the circuit on Saturday morning to clear and bright sky's again but this time with the air temperature notably cooler.

After Free Practice 1 and 2 Aston Martin Racing's two GTE Pro and two GTE AM cars were already lagging behind their respective opposition on the timing sheet and with qualifying straight after this not looking very promising for the team either.

Come the two driver average qualifying session that level of struggling performance was unfortunately to continue with the #97 Turner/Mucke car uncharacteristically languishing down in P18 (P5 in class) and nearly one whole second behind the GTE Pro leading AF Corse car followed by the new #99 Craft Bamboo driver line up in P23 (P7 in class).

In LMGTE AM class things were a little more competitive with the #98 Northwest car qualifying P20 (P2 in class) and then the #95 Young Driver "Dane Train" car in P22 (P4 in class).

Having had the drivers complain about the lack of ultimate speed and changes in car characteristics through technical changes the team were to find themselves spending many an hour stripping the cars down tweaking this and that, with the drivers examining their own performances via the telemetry data in search of those illusive tenths of a second per lap. Surely AMR hadn't been left so far behind over the winter with Darren Turner suggesting that the predicted deterioration in weather on race day being their only potential salvation.

Race Day - Come the formation on the grid under darkening but as then still dry'ish conditions Turner would be starting the #97, Lamy the #98, Heinemeier-Hannson the #95 and Rees in the #99 respectively. For the first 30 minutes or so the GT field split into their own respective battle groups - then the rain came………….!!

With the AMR's lack of speed and seeing the faster prototype cars sliding off the race track the task for the AMR drivers was simple - keep it on the black stuff and the weather would be the equaliser. By the end of the second hour the #95 had climbed to third in class.

With the rain briefly abating misdemeanours from others helped - Stop & Go penalties for the GTE Pro leaders, self inflicted fuel fires in the positioned GTE Am cars whilst in pit lane. At the half way mark the tides were definitely turning with the #97 up to 4th in class but #98 and #95 second and third respectively in class. Then came the rain again and ensuing carnage that would lead to a safety car to control and bunch up the field again presenting of all things an inter AMR battle between the #98 and #95 cars for the AM class lead.

Come the final 60minutes of the race and the rain had returned with a vengeance leading to appalling driving conditions. With only about 25 minutes left the race was, and not for the first time in WEC history Red flagged by Race Control due to these appalling circuit conditions.

By the time the standings were confirmed as a result a little while later what had started for Aston Martin Racing as potentially a damage limitation exercise had turned nothing into something in both GT classes.

In LMGTE Pro - the #97 Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke had achieved a very commendable third place whilst in LMGTE AM the #95 Young Driver Danish line up of David Heinemeier-Hannson, Kristian Poulsen and Nicki Thiim secured class victory with their sister #98 car of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Christoffer Nygaard in second.

With the 6Hours of Spa next up on the calendar there is still much to be done at Aston Martin Racing to improve the cars performance just in case there's no rain in Belgium!!!

Photo Credits - WEC / Richard Leach / Aston Martin Racing

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