Grange ambassador Darren Turner enjoyed another positive race weekend, taking fourth place in Saturday’s ‘VLN 2’ ahead of preparation for the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
Turner was joined by his World Endurance Championship team mate Nicki Thiim with the pair racing in the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
The race took place on the 12.9-mile Nordschleife described by Darren Turner as a ‘Green Heaven’ despite the ‘Green Hell’ nickname given to the track by Sir Jackie Stewart.
“When you think about all the research and design that goes into modern racing circuits, there is this circuit in Germany that was built in the 1920s that is the best ribbon of tarmac in the world,” said Turner. “Add to that the performance of the modern GT3 cars and the traffic management that you have to do and any race on the Nordschleife is incredible. There isn’t a moment to relax and I enjoy every second of it.”
Testing started on the Wednesday prior to the race and would give Aston Martin a chance to test new tyres for the first time at the track since agreeing a new partnership with Dunlop. The Nordschleife is well known for its adverse weather, with rain often featured but the arrival of snow took the team by surprise.
“I know the Nordschleife is famous for rain but the snow certainly made it interesting,” said Turner. “I went out for a recce lap at one point and found a patch of ice at 150mph. It wasn’t so much that my heart went in my mouth but rather my heart dropped right down into my feet before it got up to my mouth!”
By Friday the weather conditions had returned to normal and the team were able to get the car set up ready for the weekend.
Nicki Thiim was able to put the Aston Martin on the third row of the grid, qualifying in sixth position. Unpredictable weather conditions meant the track would alternate between wet and dry conditions with the race strategy having to be constantly adapted.
The strategy change meant that Turner would have to take on a double stunt in the Vantage.
“I jumped in for what I thought would be a single stint but it ended up being a double as the weather changed our strategy,” said Turner. “The following two and a bit hours was the longest stint I’ve ever done there and I loved every minute of it. There were a few little rain showers, which affected some parts of the circuit but never enough to contemplate pitting for wets. On my last lap though it poured down and the Nordschleife isn’t nice when you are on slicks in the wet!
“It’s an amazing circuit,” he continued. “We had an exhilarating race and we were very pleased to finish in fourth place. I’m really looking forward to getting back for the Nürburgring 24 Hours now.”