ERADICATING ASTON’S 2018 DISADVANTAGE
THERE WAS MUCH excitement surrounding Aston Martin Racing’s 2018 Vantage GTE, the team’s first new GT contender for a decade (the ’12 Vantage GTE had its roots in the
’08 GT2 car). But things didn’t start well. The fastest Aston qualified more than two seconds off the pacesetting Fords at the Spa World Endurance Championship opener and the team was never in contention at Le Mans.
As is often the case with GTS, the category’s Balance of Performance – designed to give every car a chance – came in for scrutiny. But Darren Turner, who has been involved in Aston’s racing programme since 2005 and has been part of contests in GT1, GT2, GT3 and GTE, is philosophical about the situation.
“It’s part of the sport,” says Turner, who drove with Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim at Spa and Le Mans, and will rejoin the team at Sebring in March. “Without it, you wouldn’t have a mixed grid and manufacturers racing. The cars are designed for what the road customers want and without BOP it would be hugely expensive for everyone to be competitive.
“Initially the BOP wasn’t correct [for the 2018 Vantage], but it was a brand-new car – how are the organisers going to work that out? Once there is more data the BOP gets changed and it gets closer. You’ve got to work with the organisers and show them where the deficiencies are.
“Sometimes it goes in your favour and sometimes it doesn’t. But if you make zero mistakes you can still pick up valuable points.”
Things have improved dramatically in recent months, with the luridcoloured Vantage taking its first WEC GTE pole at Fuji last month. “We’re also getting to know the car and are improving too,” reckons Turner. “We’re developing and getting more competitive and I’m excited to get back in the car at Sebring, which is one of my favourite circuits. Where we are now is competitive.”
A championship challenge is probably beyond the reach of the Vantage drivers, but the car could hit form next year in time to provide a fitting way to mark the 60th anniversary of Aston Martin’s outright Le Mans success.
A consistent run at Le Mans was only good enough for eighth in GTE Pro Thiim, Sorensen and Turner joined forces at Spa and Le Mans