Autosport (UK) - - GOODWOOD -

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

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