Sao Paulo, Brazil, 15 September 2012– Aston Martin Racing is gripped in a battle for first place in the highly competitive GTE Pro class at the halfway point of the fifth round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Six Hours of Sao Paulo, following a display of the car’s class-leading pace.
The #97 car started the race from pole position, following a fantastic qualifying lap yesterday by Aston Martin Racing works driver Darren Turner (GB), who completed the 2.5-mile Interlagos circuit with a time of 1:33.9.
Team-mate Stefan Mücke (D) was first to take the track in the Vantage GTE at the start of the race, but an incident involving the LMP2 cars held him back in the first lap, while his competitors passed on the outside.
Unharmed but hampered, the #97 was left in fourth position with just half a lap of the race completed. However, the pace of the V8-powered Vantage GTE enabled him to climb back past the third place car and then, 14 laps later, into the second place position, just ten seconds behind the leader.
Mücke closed the gap to 9 seconds before bringing the car in for fuel on lap 55. During a perfectly executed pit stop and driver change to Darren Turner, the #97 car was able to reduce the gap on the lead car to just 7.7 seconds.
Turner continued chasing the leader down and, by lap 86, was just 0.3 seconds behind. Following a gripping battle between the two cars that lasted around seven laps, the #97 car pitted for fuel, tyres and a driver change back to Mücke. The German pushed hard and when the lead car emerged from its pit stop, it came out behind the #97 giving Aston Martin Racing the lead. This was not long-lived, however, and the #51 car managed to squeeze past Mücke, leaving the #97 in second place at the halfway mark.
Darren Turner comments: “It was a long chase and he (#51) defended well while I was in the car. We need to be ahead of them going into the final stages because they can finish the race with one less pit stop than the rest. I don’t know how many more laps they can do than us, but I think it’s about five. The objective, as always, is to push as hard as possible to regain our lead.”
Aston Martin Racing's Team Principal John Gaw adds: “It was unfortunate to be held up so early on in the race, but Stefan and Darren have done a fantastic job to climb up the order and be battling for first place. Starting on pole, we were hoping to have quite a large lead on the #51 car by this point in the race, but right now, the most important thing is that we are closing in on the leader. We now need use our fast pace to take to the lead.”