Darren Turner – Needle Enters The ALMS Equation
Darren Turner popped into the Donington Park press room on Sunday, on a now rare weekend off during the 1000km race meeting, giving dsc a chance to catch up with the Aston Martin Racing man.

Turner will miss the next ALMS race at Mosport as he is on British Touring Car duty - in his other 2006 role as SEAT ‘supersub’ for James Thompson, when his fellow Englishman is on WTCC duty for the factory team.

The final driver line-up for Mosport is yet to be announced but there seems set to be a new face aboard one of the DBR9s: Turner though was staying quiet on the issue despite much prodding from members of the press pack. Ah, it’s Peter Kox returning to the fold, partnering Tomas Enge.

Instead the conversation turned to the season so far in the ALMS, the current rather public disagreements between the Aston and Corvette camps on equalisation giving an obvious hook to the conversation.

“It is affecting things between the two teams, both with the drivers and the rest of the guys, and that is taking the shine off the race meetings in some ways.

“A bit of on-track needle is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when there are two such high profile efforts involved. It’s an extra edge to the desire to win, but there is an atmosphere around.”

Turner is rightly proud of the progress that the team has made, responding to being reminded of some criticism of some of the earlier team work from the ALMS team with a rather more recent example:

“My first stop at Road America was just ‘mint’. I came in between the two Corvettes and expected to leave in the same position. As my car came off the jacks and I fired it up, I saw one of the Pratt & Miller guys step back and thought: “ They’re going to get out just in front.” I checked my mirror as I passed the acceleration line and the first of them was just pulling away from its pit. That wasn’t a small gain it was a big difference. The Corvette boys though are a tough act to follow. In terms of pit work they are the reference point and that’s been good for us.”

There is clearly some frustration over the ‘to and fro’ of comment on the equalisation issue:

“We were hearing all sorts of complaints about our straight line speed at Road America, but we were running our Le Mans spec low downforce aero. Of course that means we were quick down the straights. It’s the sort of track where we had to make that choice, but we suffered for it through the corners, where the Corvettes were much quicker. It is just a choice of strategy and it’s wrong to complain that our choice was unfair.”

The shifting sands in GT1 in the ALMS seems to be a continuing frustration:

“No driver wants to have a changing picture. We want to move forward with the team and with the car, win races and titles. One thing I can say though is that we are going as fast as we can at every track and in every session.”

That last comment rather suggests some doubt whether the same is true in the opposing camp.

Darren’s current remaining 2006 programme includes two more BTCC weekends aboard the SEAT Leon, at Knockhill and Brands Hatch, coupled with the two final ALMS rounds at Petit Le Mans and Laguna Seca, but he does feel as if he has missed out on something over the last few years:

“I actually haven’t contested a full Championship anywhere since 2003 and I do miss it. My main opportunity for that next year is in touring cars at the moment, but of course I’d love to do more of the bigger races in sportscars too, and if the Aston Martin programme progresses next year a seat for the big blue riband events would be an ideal addition.

“I think I’m well placed to do that. I know the car inside out, I know the people involved well and I’ve been quick everywhere.”

 

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