Darren Turner – Needle Enters The ALMS Equation
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
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.
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
“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.”