Aston Martin works driver Darren Turner (who is sponsored by Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing) was delighted to return to Goodwood for the 77th Members’ Meeting last weekend, where he was invited to a race a very special Mini as well as take up his regular seat in the mighty BMW 530i saloon car.
The three-times Le Mans 24 Hours class winner was asked to race a Nick Swift-prepared 1275cc Morris Mini Cooper S owned by Aston Martin’s Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman, and he played a starring role in the Betty Richmond Trophy.
Such was the take-up for the popular Mini race that it was split into heats which took place on Saturday, followed by the final on Sunday.
Darren acquitted himself well and qualified on the front row for his heat. But his hopes of delivering a podium in the race were dashed when he was forced to avoid a spinning rival.
“I had to avoid him by taking a trip across the grass!” explained Turner. “That dropped me down to ninth and I spent the rest of the race clawing my way back to fourth.”
But that result still placed him seventh on the grid for the Final, which didn’t quite go to plan…
“I didn’t get a great start – I’m pretty certain there is a technique that the others are keeping secret for getting it off the line!” explained Darren. “I dropped back to 10th, but then I had a blast racing my way back into fifth. After that, because the leading pack were towing each other I just couldn’t get back on terms with them.
“It was still very exciting and I loved every second of it. It was nice to make it into the final in the first place and then to finish in the top six with that many cars, and so many Mini specialists, is quite an achievement.
"I also think Marek was happy to know his car is competitive, although he was even more relieved to see it come back undamaged.”
Darren also shared the UFO Jeans BMW 530i with historic racer Nick Padmore in the 30 lap Gerry Marshall Trophy race; the duo finishing ninth overall against machinery more suited to the fast flowing circuit.
“Nick and I have shared that car for the last two years,” said Turner. “The BMW is not an out and out front-runner against the big Camaros, but it is a very enjoyable car to drive. Balance-wise it is absolutely perfect around that circuit. Unfortunately we didn’t have the best pitstop, otherwise I think we could have been in the top five!”
For Turner though, racing at Goodwood is always all about the occasion and he has no trouble getting into the spirit of it.
“I just love the event," he said. "It’s a bit of everything. The circuit is a great ‘old school’ challenge and you have got to respect it. It’s an airfield circuit, but there is enough elevation change to make it enjoyable. The corners are tricky and there isn’t a great deal of run-off before you get to a tyre wall and all of that is fairly unique to Goodwood.
“There is also a lot of ‘angle’ going on in all the cars, so there is a lot of drifting and sliding through the corners which is always fun, and in particular with the Minis where you can be a little bit more exuberant behind the wheel. I can’t wait to go back!”