AN EPIC RACE AT LE MANS
The fairytale didn't quite come true for Darren Turner at Le Mans this year but the extraordinary achievements of the entire Aston Martin Racing team will go on record as one of the best ever LMP1 debuts. Darren's 008 car ran as high as third during the race but ultimately finished in 13th position, after a night-time scrape and some mechanical troubles. The sister 007 car finished in fourth place, taking the fight to the factory diesels of Peugeot and Audi. The Aston Martin LMP1 programme is still in its infancy so to even get two cars home after 24 hours is an epic achievement.
Darren started the race at 3pm yesterday from ninth on the grid and triple-stinted straight away to gain the maximum advantage. When he finally came in from his trouble-free run he handed the 008 car over to Jos Verstappen in fifth place.
For all three 008 drivers their first run in the Le Mans race was the longest time they had spent in the car, reminding everyone how new this project is. The car ran smoothly for the first eight hours of the race but shortly after 10pm the troubles began when Darren had unavoidable contact with a GT1 Corvette at Tetre Rouge. The Aston Martin bore the brunt of the impact on its front left corner and Darren had to make a few visits to the pits before the resulting vibration was cured. Once back on track though he was able to maintain his previous pace before he came in just after midnight to hand over to Verstappen.
While Darren got some rest, Jos completed his run and then handed over to Anthony Davidson, who worked his way back up to 10th before it was time for Darren to get back onboard 008 in the early hours of the morning. After the dramas of his last outing, he was delighted to have run with no major problems.
Verstappen took over again and 008 was still running fast, but he had to come in for two unscheduled stops, to fix a gearbox issue and then a brake problem that had been caused by the earlier gearbox problem. The Aston Martin mechanics could be seen working hard and fast to get 008 back out on the track with as little time lost as possible.
Against all the odds 008 was still running fast and strong as the race entered its final hour. The Aston Martins had proven to be the fastest of the petrol-powered LMP1 cars and to get two of them across the line of the toughest race of them all is incredible. Darren crossed the finishing line in 008 in formation with Tomas Enge in the 007 car, creating a sight for all the tired eyes of the Aston Martin fans who had made the pilgrimage to Le Mans.
"I'm over the moon for the Aston Martin Racing team as today's result is a great reward for all the work they have put in, both before and during the race," said Darren. "In the 008 car we had some dramas that ultimately cost us a top position but well done to the 007 crew who took it all the way to fourth. Considering this project only got the green light six months ago we can all be very proud of what we achieved here at Le Mans."