Date posted on January 14, 2013 · Published by Mark Goddard
In the team’s first race under a new name and also its first entry for a 24 Hour race a podium finish in the 82 car field, which featured 29 GT3 cars entered by many of the leading GT teams Worldwide, was a great achievement. The Aston Martin Vantage GT3 ran almost faultlessly for the duration of the 24 hours in the hands of Frank Yu, Tomonobu Fujii, Darryl O’Young, Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner. Fastest lap of the race was recorded by Mucke demonstrating the speed of the iconic British car.
First qualifying saw Tomonobu Fujii set the fastest time whilst most of the grid positions were decided in the later cooler therefore faster session. Mucke put the car third on the grid “We concentrated on developing a race set up therefore we were happy with third place” reported Team Principal Mark Goddard.
Darren Turner started the race and for the first hour was part of a close four car battle for the lead. When the first round of pit stops came, under a code purple 60 (the equivalent of a safety car where the whole track is under a 60 kph speed limit), Turner pitted in second place right on the bumper of the eventual winning car driven by Bernd Schneider. Over the following few hours the Aston remained on the leading lap or close to it. However on the next code purple 60 over a lap was lost to most of the leading cars as the code 60 was called just after the Aston passed the pit lane entry resulting in a long slow lap to get back to the pits. If the car is close to the pit entry it is possible to pit, refuel and effectively gain a lap. At least three times the team was unlucky to have a code 60 called when the Aston was in sector one. “The belief is that a code 60 is more equal than using safety cars, in fact its easier to lose a lap under the former” remarked Goddard. “It’s the same for everyone and we were just unlucky.
The last two hours of the race saw a great battle for third between the Aston Martin and the Fach Auto Porsche. Stefan Mucke drove a great penultimate stint to close within a lap of the Porsche, setting fastest lap in the process, whilst Darren Turner finished the race overtaking the Porsche for third with 40 minutes to go before a quick stop for a “splash and dash” of fuel meant he had to chase down and overtake the Porsche again.
“All of the drivers drove immaculately, dealt with the traffic without hitting any of the slower cars and the team turned the car around quickly in the pit stops” said Mark Goddard. “It’s a great start to the season and we will be back in Dubai next year with the intention of going two places better. Our focus is now on the Asian Le Mans Series which starts in May and we fully intend to win the GT3 Championship in the inaugural year of the new series.”