Darren Turner says Aston Martin Racing’s record-breaking pole position lap in Thursday night Qualifying owed much to warm ambient temperatures that favored his Dunlop tires.
The two-time Le Mans class winner clocked a 3:50.837 on his third flying lap to pip the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado and teammate Richie Stanaway in the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE for AMR’s first pole position since Bahrain last year.
Turner, who will share the No. 95 car with Jonny Adam and Dunlop development driver Daniel Serra, was quick to praise Dunlop’s combination to the team’s upturn in form, after struggling in the opening rounds of the WEC at Silverstone and Spa.
“Certainly temperature [played a part] – the Dunlops are working much better, they seem to be working in their operating window when we have got a higher ambient temperature which is what we’ve had in the last two days here,” he told Sportscar365.
“We saw from last year as well that when we started going to the hotter circuits we became more and more competitive, so I think that’s one of the key factors.
“It was a quick session anyway as you can see from the times of the LMP1s, so the track, everything was in the perfect condition for doing fast lap times.”
The entire GTE-Pro field of 13 cars was separated by 1.7 seconds after qualifying and Turner is optimistic that the race will be a much closer race than last year, which saw AMR, Corvette Racing and Porsche cast adrift of the battle for victory between Ford and Ferrari.
“Things have been changed from last year when there was a two-tier GT race and it looks like everyone is a lot closer this time, so it’s nice to be in a competitive field of cars,” he said.
“You want to have a fight, so as long as we’ve got a competitive package and we’re on par with every other manufacturer, that’s great and that’s hopefully what will happen with the knowledge that the governing body has got from last year and with the adjustments they’ve made.”
Although the pole winner has gone on to win the GTE-Pro ranks twice in the last three years, Turner acknowledges that the feat has little bearing on the race itself.
The Englishman isn’t getting carried away with thoughts of taking Aston Martin’s first GTE-Pro victory at Le Mans, a decade after the marque’s first win in GT1.
“It’s really nice to have pole, it’s great for the team and everyone else involved, but it’s a treat, and it doesn’t always reflect exactly what will happen over the race weekend,” he said.
“The key now is that we just focus on our race strategy, I’m sure the pace will be very, very strong in the race from everyone, and on the two occasions when I have won in 2007 and 2008.
“The key was no mistakes and absolutely amazing pitstops and we’ve got to try and repeat that this weekend.”