a reduction in its fuel-tank capacity by
five liters (1.3 U.S. gallons), applied before
the end of last season, left AMR requiring
an extra pit stop at the end of a race.
That resulted in the team gambling on
double-stinting its Michelin tires at the
Spa-Francorchamps WEC round in May.
“We had to throw everything at it to try
to get a result,” explains Turner. “If we’d
just done things normally, we’d have been
nowhere. We had nothing to lose, but it was
still heart-breaking losing a good position
by having to make the splash at the end.”
Those five liters were given back to the
Astons ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours in
June. The intention of the rule makers is
to equalize stint length for all the GTE cars.
Double stinting the tires is not the norm
in the six-hour WEC rounds. The gamble
looked as though it might work for Aston
at Spa, because Turner, Mucke and Bruno
Senna, who joined them in preparation for
Le Mans, were running second before their
final, extra stop, but the benefits are limited.
“The drop off in the second stint is
normally more than you gain in the pits
by not changing tires,” explains Turner.
“The loss is even bigger in reality than in
the simulations. On fresher rubber, you
can be more aggressive in traffic and run
off line, whereas older tires give you a
much narrower operating window and
you lose a lot more when you go off line.”
Aston, like its rivals, generally single-
stints its drivers, as well as the tires.
“It’s easy to complete the driver
change during the time you’ve got, so
you might as well put in a fresh driver
who’s ready to push on,” notes Turner.
A safety car, of course, can alter a
team’s plans. The strategic decisions will
be made on the pitwall, but the guy
behind the wheel has a role to play, too.
“We feed the guys on the pitwall with
information to help them make their
decisions,” explains Turner. “You’re the
one actually driving past any incident, so
you can see things that they might not be
able to see from the TV monitors.
“Our job is to tell them what’s going on
out on the track: has the car that caused
the safety car been removed? Who’s
going into the pits and who’s staying out?
You’re telling them how quickly you think
it’s likely to go back to green-flag running,
so they can keep adjusting their plan.
“It can actually be quite exciting driving
around behind the safety car. There’s some
quick-fire communication going on and,
quite often, a lot of swearing.”
On one occasion, early in Turner’s
sports car career, it all got a little bit too
exciting during a safety car, as he recalls...
“the drop off in the second
stint is normally more than
you gain in the pits by not
(FAR LEFT) Wet
conditions are often
a chance to roll the
dice on strategy.
(LEFT) A plan comes
together and the
No. 95 Vantage V8
takes the GTE Am
class win at Le Mans.
AF Corse driver Davide Rigon talks setup
of his Ferrari 458 Italia in practice for the
24 Hours of Le Mans. With every WEC GTE
race, regardless of duration, pretty much a
series of all-out blasts interrupted by pit
stops, optimizing setup is crucial.