Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Bruno Senna ran a flawless race to win the Pro class in their No.97 Vantage V8, having led the race from start to finish. The trio survived an early traction control problem, rain showers and pressure in the first hour from both its sister No.99 Aston Martin Vantage (Paul Dalla Lana, Frederic Makowiecki and Pedro Lamy) and the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella. From that stage onwards, the British-German-Brazilian driver line up stretched out a lead they were never to relinquish and finished one lap ahead of their nearest rival, the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari.
Making his debut in the FIA WEC, just as Senna was, Kamui Kobayashi and his driving partner, Toni Vilander, were thrilled to finish ahead of the No.99 Aston Martin, maintaining their cool to take the chequered flag 12.5 seconds ahead of the first of the Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSRs. Last year’s leading LMGTE Pro pairing, Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella, had a difficult race and ended up having to make one more pit stop than their rivals which cost them dearly. Although the new Porsche 911 RSRs were not able to claim a podium finish on this occasion, the car’s performance on track was impressive and it will surely not be long.
In LMGTE Am there was drama right to the end, although fortunately none of it affected the class winners, the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Christian Nygaard, Kristian Poulsen and Alan Simonsen. The Danish trio, unlike their Pro team mates, had to wait until in the second hour to take the lead of the class but, once in that position, they didn’t loosen their grip on it and finished a resounding three laps ahead of their nearest rival.
A fantastic battle took place between the second and third placed cars – the No.50 Larbre Competition Corvette C6-ZR1 and the No.81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia – although the final finishing positions could so easily have been reversed. In the final laps of the race Rui Aguas in the Ferrari was holding second position, hotly pursued by Fernando Rees in the Corvette, until the Ferrari was nudged from behind by the French car. The contact led to a left rear puncture with just four minutes of the race to go and in the end the orange Ferrari was forced to cede the second step of the podium.
Next rendez-vous for the FIA World Endurance Championship will be the second round, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps WEC, on Saturday 4th May.
Darren Turner (Nr97 Aston Martin racing Vantage V8): “That was an amazing result! We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. Stefan, Bruno and myself all pushed hard throughout what was, at times, a difficult race. However, the car was prepared perfectly with a lot of hard work and the result is a great reward for everything. Praise to our chief engineer, Dan Sayers, who has done a great job with the 2013 car and given us a package that should see us have a solid season.”
Bruno Senna (Nr97 Aston Martin racing Vantage V8): “I’m really happy to start my GT career with a win. It’s been great joining Aston Martin Racing and to get a pole position and win and go home from our first WEC race of the year with so many points for the championship is unbelievable. It was a tough race; we had to push hard while avoiding accidents, but my team did a great job. We must now keep pushing hard; the competition here is very, very strong.”
Allan Simonsen (Nr95 Aston Martin racing Vantage V8): “I’m very happy on behalf of the whole team. It was a big push to get us here and to start the season with points is fantastic. To do it on Aston Martin Racing’s home turf is even better; we couldn’t be happier.”
The information we gained today and find areas to improve. I am looking forward to Spa where I hope we will be able to push Audi harder.”