There’s a reshuffle in Aston Martin Racing’s lineup for the Six Hours of Nürburgring, with the team firmly adopting the increasingly popular two-driver strategy after the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In 2015, Aston Martin was the only GTE-Pro team in the FIA World Endurance Championship to use three drivers in a car after Le Mans, but have opted not to employ the same strategy this year.
The reshuffle leaves Jonny Adam and Fernando Rees without a WEC drive for the foreseeable future, although they will remain in the AMR roster involved in other programs.
The only driver to stay in the lineup but also switch cars is Darren Turner, who leaves the No. 95 ‘Dane Train’ to join Richie Stanaway in his familiar No. 97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE.
“Richie has been a part of the team for a couple of years now, and although we might not necessarily have been in the same car at any point but we’re all part of a team and know each other very well,” Turner told Sportscar365.
“It’s just that we haven’t worked closely together with a car or a race engineer. This weekend, it might take a little bit of time for us to understand what each of us wants from the car.
“Hopefully we both want the same things, which means you’re a good pairing. If there’s some compromise it’s going to be fairly small.
“Richie is a super-fast lad and he’s very hungry and committed to doing a good job, and I’ve enjoyed the few hours we’ve had today and yesterday in preparation.
“It’s been fun working with him and I’m expecting good things this weekend.”
If AMR does keep just two drivers in both of its GTE-Pro cars for the remainder of the season, it will be in contrast to last year.
Although it wasn’t the case for every race and in every car, Aston Martin was the only team in its class to ever use a third driver, whilst AF Corse and Porsche Team Manthey both exclusively utilized a two-driver approach for the second half of the season.
“Historically, if you look at how everyone has run the WEC, it is very normal for the second half of the season after Le Mans to run two drivers,” Turner explained.
“Before Le Mans, you tend to run three drivers in preparation for the event, especially at Spa and sometimes at Silverstone.”
Although it means more time on track during the race, a two-driver strategy is largely beneficial for a GTE-Pro team for the added flexibility of strategy, according to the Englishman.
“The way you run a six-hour race normally with three drivers, would be with double stints,” Turner said. “Two hours in a car, especially on a Grand Prix track, can be quite a challenge. But when you run two drivers, you single stint.
“Me and Richie are using exactly the same seat, there are no inserts to worry about, and the driver changes are very quick. You don’t have to worry about drink because you’re only in the car for one hour, so there’s no drink bottles to worry about.
“Everything becomes very efficient in the pit stop, and you know you’re going to be in the car for an hour. You can be a lot more aggressive, because you’re only going to be there one hour, you’ll get out, have a rest and then get back in.
“That’s why running two drivers in six-hour races is a very efficient way of doing it.”
AMR managing director John Gaw confirmed the benefits of his team’s approach for the rest of the year.
“There’s not that much seat time at six-hour races,” Gaw told Sportscar365. “You’ve got a short amount of practice. Of course we need three drivers for Le Mans, but for now it’s just to give the guys as much seat time as possible.
“It also helps from the championship perspective, because Darren is on the same points as the other car.”
There is only one car in GTE-Pro with three drivers at Nürburgring, and that is the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, after the team opted to retain Harry Tincknell as third driver for the rest of the season.
The aim this weekend for Turner is clear, even with a new co-driver, and at a track at which he competed in a three-driver lineup last year.
“The target is to keep leading in the manufacturers’ championship and try and get one of these cars on the podium,” he said.
Vincent Wouters contributed to this report