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Le Mans 2014 – a driver’s-eye view
Our latest exclusive article from Aston Martin’s Darren Turner (left, above), who has qualified his number 97 Aston Martin in P3 overnight. But he’s got some reservations about this year’s race…
“Minimise mistakes, stay out of trouble and keep going round and round”
“We’re pretty happy to have qualified in P3 for Le Mans. We knew we didn’t put down a representative time at the test day – our splits were ok but overall laps times were down – but we still needed to find some time. The guys have made some steps but ultimately we are still a second off the pole Ferrari. As a collective, me, Bruno and Stefan are on the same pace and we have the same opinions on the car and that’s the best combination you can have at Le Mans.
Going on what we’ve seen so far I’m expecting the race to be fairly chaotic. Our goal is to minimise mistakes, stay out of trouble and keep going round and round.”
“It just doesn’t work at night because people don’t know what to do”
“I’m not convinced about the new ‘Slow Zone’. It’s fine in daylight but at night it’s horrible. What you can’t account for is each driver’s ability to see clearly. If you have a P1 car behind you filling your mirrors with blazing white light it’s hard to see the marshal boards. I came across an Audi going 60kph a long way before the slow zone last night. It just doesn’t work at night because people don’t know what to do.”
“I can’t put my finger on what has changed this year but something is different”
“The last two nights have been a little strange as we have had a lot more incidents on track than normal. I’ve never seen so many red flags at Le Mans. There are normally a few ‘offs’ but we already have five or six heavily damaged cars, including the #99 Aston Martin which is out of the race after a crash on Wednesday night. Not great for those guys but difficult for everyone else too as the sessions have been so interrupted. Me and Bruno had to do our mandatory five night laps at the end of Thursday and it was difficult with all the interruptions.
It does all feel a bit strange as, compared to last year, our car is more difficult to drive on the limit. We have been focusing on calming it down as I would rather be a little slower and not scare myself on every lap. I can’t put my finger on what has changed this year but something is different.”
Darren is racing the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage at Le Mans. Follow him on Twitter at @darrenturner007. Read Darren’s first column here, and head this way for TopGear.com’s live blog from the race