STRONG START TO 12 HOURS OF SEBRING FOR ASTON MARTIN RACING
Sebring, 17 March 2012 – At the four hour mark of the 60th anniversary edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, Aston Martin Racing holds third position among the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) runners in the GTE Pro category and fifth when combined with the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) competitors following the team’s strong start to the celebrated endurance race.
Darren Turner (GBR) occupied the driver’s seat for the opening stint of the race. At the 30 minute mark, a full course caution gave the team the opportunity to pit the Gulf-liveried Vantage GTE for tyres and fuel without losing too much time to its GTE rivals. Turner increased his speed after the perfectly executed pit stop to run at a pace that was consistently within a second of yesterday’s qualifying time.
Following an hour and 20 minutes of competitive action, Turner was able to improve on the #97 Aston Martin’s grid slot for the start of the race to lead all of its GTE rivals in both the WEC and ALMS categories. A pit stop for fuel and tyres after one hour and 30 minutes saw Turner make way for fellow factory driver Stefan Mücke (D), who rejoined the action in third position in the WEC GTE Pro class.
The German driver pitted for fuel from second in the GTE class at the two and a half hour mark. However, a full course caution as Mücke left the pit lane halted his charge and gave the team’s rivals the opportunity to pit under the yellow flag. With the race back up to full speed, Mücke handed over to team-mate Adrian Fernandez (MX) after three hours and 15 minutes hours during the third yellow flag interruption of the race, which was caused by the erstwhile GTE class leading car colliding with a prototype. After four hours, Fernandez holds 30th overall in the #97 Aston Martin.
John Gaw, Team Principal for Aston Martin Racing, was thrilled with his team’s performance during the opening four hours: “There’s a very long way to go yet, but we have every reason to be pleased given our strong start. The drivers are very happy with the car’s performance and we haven’t had any technical issues. The pace of the GTE category is very quick indeed and we still have our sights on a class podium.”
Mücke added: “It’s all good so far. We haven’t had any problems or dramas and our race pace is good. There have been lots of yellow flags, but we’ve stayed out of trouble ourselves so I’m very happy at the moment.”