Darren Turner clinched his first ever British GT Championship class victory on a hugely successful return to the series with Newbridge Motorsport at Silverstone last weekend.
The Aston Martin Racing works driver joined series debutant Matt Topham in the team’s new Vantage GT4 as the pair capped a dream start to their campaign with a GT4 class win in the three-hour Silverstone 500 race.
It marked the third class win for Turner in as many different series in what is turning out to be a stellar season for the British racing driver. And despite this being his 17th year as a works AMR driver, incredibly, Sunday’s victory marked his first win in the domestic series.
“Strangely, I haven’t done that much racing in British GT over the years,’ said Turner. “There was a one-off podium in 2010 and then a season in 2018 with Beechdean AMR, and then another one-off at Spa in 2019. But, of course it feels really good to have won a race in another category, and I’m really delighted with our performance through the weekend.
“More importantly, I’m so pleased for the Newbridge Motorsport team and for Matt, who has dreamed of racing an Aston Martin in the British GT series for a very long time.”
Turner and Topham, entered in the Pro-Am class in the GT4 category, were on the pace from outset at Silverstone (in an event that is considered one of the most prestigious races on the season calendar) and were in the top two positions throughout practice. Qualifying fourth on the grid, Topham was thrown ‘in at the deep-end’ at the start, amongst a fiercely-contested pack. Nevertheless, he got to grips with the challenge, and quickly established himself as fast.
“It was a baptism of fire for Matt,” said Turner. “But he held his own, and once he’d got past the Toyota he was racing with he was able to break free and establish himself as second in the Pro-Am class. Initially we’d targeted a good result in the Pro-Am class, but thanks to Matt’s initial pace we realised quickly we were in contention for overall honours in GT4.”
Topham handed over the Vantage to Turner in second place. Darren then immediately began to chase down the leading BMW. Such is the nature of British GTs, teams run markedly different strategies, which leads to a high-level of on-track overtaking and requires razor sharp strategic nous from teams. Newbridge Motorsport executed theirs to perfection throughout the race.
“When I came out of the pits I had perfect track position, which allowed me to really get my head down and crack on,” said Turner. “The car was so much fun to drive. The Vantage GT4 moves around a lot more than the GT3, which has fatter tyres, more downforce and various other bits that make it a more thoroughbred racing car. The GT4 slides around and generally is a wilder ride!”
After nearly an hour in the car, Turner caught and passed the leader with a sweet manoeuvre around the half-distance mark. Stint completed, Turner gave the Vantage back to Topham who “set a really impressive pace” in his second stint. That pace then put the team and Turner in the perfect position to capitalise when Darren climbed in the car for the final 30 minutes.
“Matt did such a good job, that all I needed to do was drive to the track position and bring it home, once the leader pitted late-on.
“This has been a great weekend for Newbridge Motorsport who delivered a beautifully-prepared car and were great fun to work with. Matt was excellent all weekend and it’s been a fantastic experience. I’m really looking forward to racing more with them as the season progresses and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect start.”
Turner misses the next round of the British GT series as he now turns his attention back to his test and development role with Aston Martin Lagonda and will showcase the British luxury sportscars at the upcoming Goodwood Festival of Speed on 10-11 July.