Darren Turner and his Aston Martin Racing team mate, Jonny Adam, finished Round 8 of the FIA World Endurance Championship in seventh place on Sunday, despite battling hard throughout the six-hour race.
It was decided early on in the weekend that the drivers of the #97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE would focus their attention on their race strategy, which meant taking a hit in qualifying.
“If you’re honest to yourself and know you don’t have the outright pace for pole position you shift your focus to maximising your race strategy,” explained Turner. “We opted to use just one set of tyres in qualifying to save as much fresh rubber as possible for the race. Ultimately this put us at the back of the GTE Pro field but did give us a new set of tyres on which to start the race.”
Shanghai International Circuit is notorious for tyre degradation and since the beginning of this year the WEC regulations allow only four sets of tyres for the race so this weekend was always going to be all about tyre management.
Turner was behind the wheel for the start of the race. The GTE field was very compact over the first few laps as all of the runners tried to settle into the groove, whilst making sure not to overcook their tyres.
“I was happy with my pace and able to make a move on both the Ferraris during the first half hour,” said Turner. “As the stint went on I started to struggle a bit with overall grip and one of the Ferraris was able to repass me and that’s how we stayed until the end of that first stint.”
Jonny Adam was up next and had a good run, which helped the #97 Aston Martin to maintain position before Turner jumped back in for another run. Adam then got back behind the wheel for the run to the flag, finishing the race in seventh position in the GTE Pro class.
“We ended up one position higher than we started,” said Turner. “It was a long six-hour race for everyone today as we all tried to make our tyres last the distance.
“Although the GTE Pros didn’t have the best of race days the team did walk away with its 50th pole position and 50th win with the GTE Am crew winning on Sunday so every cloud has a silver lining!”
The final round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place in just under two weeks’ time in Bahrain.