Having been keen to tick the Daytona 24 Hours off his 'to do' list, Darren Turner did so in fine style as the Briton helped Krohn Racing to a fourth place finish in the opening round of the Grand-Am season.
Running alongside former F1 racer Ricardo Zonta and Nic Jonsson, Turner battled mixed weather conditions, 24 Safety Car periods and a high attrition rate to help the Krohn Racing team to secure its best finish to date in the Rolex 24.
The successful run came despite the fact that the trio had been forced to revert back to the 2007 Riley chassis after an accident in testing meant that new Lola wasn't available, with the same accident meaning Turner had only done limited laps prior to the race weekend itself.
“I've loved my first Daytona 24, really loved it,” the British Touring Car Championship racer reflected. “We were on the back foot this weekend because, at the official three-day test a couple of weeks ago we were testing the team's new Lola, and obviously now we are here racing with the Riley.
“We didn't have any real testing behind us, and both Ricardo and I had to get up to speed with the car and the circuit so we weren't really prepared for the race. Up until the race itself, I'd done 23 timed laps in different stints and the longest stint I'd done was seven laps in one go. My first race stint was three hours and fifteen, 90 laps or so in the dark and in the rain, so it was in at the deep end.
“I don't think I've ever driven for so long in a car before but it was cool to have been able to lead the field a couple of times on my debut. It didn't go too badly but I've got some big blisters on my feet now from having been in the car so long and from having to stamp so hard on the brake pedal [carbon brakes are not permitted in this series].
“For Krohn Racing it's brilliant, and the guys did such a great job on the race strategy. We had problems; it wasn't like it was a clean run – punctures which resulted in bodywork damage, windscreen wiper motors not working when there was a fair bit of rain out there; but they all dealt with it really well and did a mega job.
“I love it because it's a battle, a proper battle out there. Looking at the state of the car now, I didn't even know half the rear bodywork was missing and the guys have patched it up the best they can but it's a completely battle-worn, battle-scarred car. This is what racing's about.”
Turner, a winner at Le Mans last season with Aston Martin Racing, admitted that racing in the Rolex Series had been a world away from what he is used to and said he couldn't wait to do it all again.
“The Grand-Am series is so different to what I'm used to – either the ALMS or Le Mans itself,” he said. “It's very close and with just the two classes you feel there are more people racing at the same pace as you so it's really competitive out there.
“This circuit is very different to any other we race on because of the banking. It's flat out on the banking which, when you are on your own, is not too bad, but when there's three abreast you rely completely on your spotter to tell you when it's clear. Having someone talking at you all the time is something I had to get used to - it's a different type of racing. I can't wait to do it again!”
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