FEATURES LE MANS 2017
It was a race to remember for Aston Martin. Relive it through these pages
There’s something ironic about how the very best Le Mans 24 Hour races always come down to a bare-knuckle fight in the last few desperate minutes. This year was no exception, with Aston Martin Racing’s Vantage #97 slugging it out against the leading Corvette in the dying moments of the race for the biggest prize in GT racing.
For Darren Turner, one third of car #97’s driver line-up and good friend of Vantage, it was a mix of emotions few have felt, but feelings he was happy to share when we called to reflect on the epic win – his and AMR’S hat-trick in Le Mans’ top GT class. This, then, is how it feels to win Le Mans:
‘With two hours to go, I knew I wasn’t going to be in the car for the finish, so I was already relaxing and enjoying the race as a spectator, albeit from the back of our garage. We thought we’d be ten seconds behind the Corvette at the final pit stop, but the two cars came in as one. Right then I thought: “This is it. Game on!” Corvette decided to change drivers, which puts huge pressure on the new driver when they’re in cold and leading. They had it all to lose, while Jonny [Adam] – who stayed in the car and was totally dialled in to it and the track – had everything to gain.
‘When he tried for an overtake at Mulsanne Corner I thought, “Fair play Jonny, at least you had a go”, but I didn’t think there was enough time left to close the gap and make another move. Less than a lap later, he’d pressured the ’Vette into a mistake and the whole race changed...
‘When the ’Vette skipped the chicane, our engineers and management saw it had gained an advantage. We were all screaming to get a message to the race director. But by the time the message was sent, the Corvette clearly had a puncture and Jonny had got by. We could hear the cheers of the crowd in the grandstand opposite over the noise of the race!
‘All the marques in GTE Pro had led. All had good opportunities to win it. To come out of that battle ahead, and especially ahead of Corvette – our oldest adversary and the team we share such mutual respect with – was something extremely special. What an end to a 24-hour race!
‘Of my three Le Mans wins, this is the most special for me. The competition in ‘07 and ‘08 wasn’t as strong. This year it’s been five manufacturers all battling it out tooth-andnail, all race long, with one of the best last hours in the history of the race. I’m chuffed to win with Jonny and Daniel [Serra], and that the Vantage GTE has finally won in GTE Pro. It’s nice to get a farewell win for the car. The whole AMR team deserved it, especially Dan Sayers, who masterminded the car.
‘The podium at Le Mans is totally different to any other. You can see the whole pitlane, the whole team, all the fans. It’s a great place tobe.normally,bythetuesdayorwednesday after a race, you’re over it and thinking about the next one. With Le Mans, you’re still on a high weeks later. Actually, it’s mid-august now and I’m still buzzing!’
So are we, DT. So are we.