Darren Turner reflects on his and AMR's disastrous run at the Green Hell

Monday, June 06, 2016

The 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hours became a race meeting to forget for Darren Turner and his Aston Martin Racing counterparts when all three factory supported cars retired from the race. It was an incident-packed event that claimed many cars and unfortunately for the team the #007, #27 and #042 Aston Martins all went out before the finish.

With both GT3 cars having made the Top 30 Shoot out in qualifying and with the road derived Vantage GT8 making class pole the possibilities were endless for the the AMR cars despite the extremely robust German OEM entry.

The opening phase of the race was severely disrupted by the weather before even the first hour of running had been completed. Heavy rain in one area of the track caught out numerous drivers but the following hailstorm was sufficient to bring out the red flags as the conditions quickly became treacherous with cars unable to climb even the mildest of slopes.

Turner started the race in the new Aston Martin GT8 was one of the first drivers to come across this isolated weather system where more than twenty cars slammed into the barriers and each other in a matter of minutes.

“Just before I got to the section of the track where the really bad weather was I backed right off and I’m glad I did as I came over the top and there were cars going off left, right and centre,” he said. “I think I was one of the first cars that came through and even at 30kph it was a struggle to stay on track. I have to say that I’m very encouraged with the performance and driveability of the GT8 but in conditions like that your only task is to keep the car on the circuit and bring it back to the pits.”

After a three-hour stoppage and a few laps under the safety car the race finally got going again. Turner had his first stint in the V12 Vantage GT3 just as darkness fell and the plan was to stay out of trouble through the night before attacking the race in the morning.

“I had the full range from running on wets, to intermediates, and then on slicks before handing over to Nicki (Thiim),” said Turner. “The car was running well and we had no trouble dealing with the changeable conditions.”

Unfortunately during Thiim’s run, the #007 car was involved in an accident in the middle of the night and contact with the barrier caused race-ending damage to the Aston Martin. The sister #27 car had already retired from the race after only eight hours after also sustaining heavy collision damage.

The Aston Martin GT8 continued strongly through the night and led the SP8 class for most of the race except for the occasion when a team miscalculation lead to the car running out of fuel mid way through a lap. Despite an enormous come back driver made by Turners co drivers, Peter Cate and Florian Kamelger and with only a few hours to go it too was involved in an accident and wasn’t able to continue.

“Ultimately it has been a very disappointing weekend for everyone at Aston Martin and Aston Martin Racing,” Turner concluded. “And that is what can happen at the Green Hell. It throws everything at you and sometimes you can beat it but on this occasion it wasn’t our day.”

Emphasis of the team now turns to another big race - the 24Hours of Le Mans.

Source material - Darren Turner
Photo credits - AMR
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