Le Mans, 17 June 2012 – With the sun having risen over the Circuit de la Sarthe and eight hours still to run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Aston Martin Racing has set its sights firmly on a podium result in the GTE Pro class. Factory drivers Darren Turner (GB) and Stefan Mücke (D) each dug deep to deliver competitive and error-free stints throughout the night to elevate the #97 Vantage GTE to second in class, but an incident soon before the 16th hour cost the team 10 minutes and its class position.
From sixth position at the six-hour mark, the Gulf-liveried V8 machine has performed faultlessly for ten hours – setting fastest times for the class lap after lap – to battle through the order. After 172 laps, Turner climbed back into the podium positions as he passed a rival for third. Sharing the night driving with Mücke, the pair then moved into second position in class during an extended safety car interruption.
Pushing hard to pressure the leading #51 competitor – and just after having set another fastest lap of the race – Mücke lost control at high speed and was pitched into a gravel trap at Indianapolis corner. Having recovered to the pitlane quickly, Mücke made way for Adrian Fernandez (MX) while the team rectified the minor damage and cleared away the gravel.
With eight hours still to run, the #97 Vantage GTE has already covered 220 laps of the 8.5-mile circuit. Mücke was able to set the fastest lap time of the entire GTE field soon before his incident, stopping the clock at 3m 56.291s despite running on worn rubber
John Gaw, Aston Martin Racing Team Principal, commented: “Reliability and consistency had seen us move up from P6 to P2 during the night. Darren and Stefan both did a superb job over the past few hours. The incident soon before the 16th hour cost us a bit of time and perhaps the chance to fight for victory this weekend, but there is still a third of the race to go and we will continue to chase down the leading GTE Pro cars.”
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