COUNTDOWN TO LE MANS
The countdown has begun and the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours is now just ten days away. Darren Turner returns to the scene of his two class victories as part of Aston Martin's LMP1 squad, competing for the outright win in what is arguably the world's most famous motor race.
Darren will move over to the 008 car for this race where he will be joined by two ex-F1 drivers: Anthony Davidson and Jos Verstappen. This is a strong line-up and Darren is happy to be part of such a solid driving squad.
"I think the crew for 008 is a good one and I'm looking forward to racing with Anthony and Jos. Ant has been a good friend of mine since we raced together at Sebring and Le Mans in 2003. It will be interesting to see how we compare now that so much time has passed. Jos is a hugely experienced Grand Prix driver who has already proved to be very fast around Le Mans in a prototype so I think the three of us together will make a very solid team."
The competition is tough in the LMP1 class this year with 20 cars all competing for the outright win. The biggest challenges Aston Martin face are the sheer speed of the diesel-powered Peugeots and of course Audi who have displayed a bit of a knack for winning at Le Mans.
"Our main competition has to be the other petrol-powered teams," explained Darren. "But it would be great if we could get out there and mix it with the Audis and the Peugeots. Our test programme hasn't run as smoothly as we would have liked, with a few accidents along the way, so the team is on the back foot a little. It will be very difficult to get on the podium this year but this race is different to all the others and you have to keep plugging away as you never know what will happen next. "
As a double winner of the GT1 category, Darren knows how special this race is in a GT car and now he's going to find out what it's like in a prototype.
"After the two GT1 wins it is incredible to be able to go back and do Le Mans in an LMP1 car," he said. "I've had a look at the data to compare LMP1 and GT1 speeds to get an idea of the differences between the cars and what it will be like. There is a huge difference in cornering speeds and I can't wait to get out there and try it out. I'm really enjoying the car now that I have had the two LMS races to get used to it and it's a real privilege for me to race at Le Mans for Aston Martin, especially on the 50th anniversary of their last outright win. "
The first practice session for the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours gets underway one week from today (Wednesday) at 1800hrs. Qualifying takes place on the Thursday evening from 1900hrs and the Le Mans 24 Hours roars into action at 1500hrs on Saturday 13 June.