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Stratford's Darren Turner clinches British GT4 Pro-Am title in Donington decider

STRATFORD ace Darren Turner clinched the GT4 Pro-Am drivers’ title alongside Newbridge Motorsport co-driver Matt Topham at Donington Park on Sunday, concluding an ultra-successful 2021 British GT Championship campaign with their Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

Matt Topham and Darren Turner.
Matt Topham and Darren Turner.

For the works Aston Martin Racing driver, who finished second in class in the race, the achievement represents the latest accolade with the British marque. It also capped a season of firsts for Turner, as he recorded his maiden British GT race victory and championship title.

“I’m delighted to have won the British GT Pro-Am Championship,” said Turner. “I guess much of the pleasure is from being a part of Newbridge Motorsport’s first year in the championship and working alongside Matt as he achieved his dreams of winning in British GT.

“I’m sure as it sinks in it will feel even better because it’s a great thing to have accomplished, but it’s really satisfying to watch the joy it’s brought to the team.”

The nine-round series traditionally climaxes at Donington Park and Turner and Topham went into the weekend’s finale with a comfortable 14.5-point over their nearest GT4 Pro-Am rivals.

While Newbridge Motorsport may have been in the pound seat, as always, it prepared a fiercely competitive Vantage for the weekend.

Topham duly delivered a superb qualifying lap, allowing the duo to start from second in class in the race – exactly where they needed to be to protect their title chances.

The two-hour season finale began in damp conditions, after heavy rain had blighted the morning’s warm-up session. Newbridge duly revised the car’s set-up and found a compromise of balance and pace, giving Topham a fantastic opportunity to prove how much he’s improved his wet-weather skills in his first season alongside Turner.

In very tricky conditions, Topham held his own and moved to the top of the class in the early stages as their chief rivals in the Fox Motorsport McLaren closed in behind. This became a three-car battle when the Toyota Gazoo Racing Supra joined the fight. Topham valiantly held his nerve with classy composure.

The Supra retired not long after and Topham settled in to second position before handing over to Turner, both aware that maintaining the place would be enough to seal the crown.

Turner’s job, though straightforward, was still challenging. Like all the pros in the second half of the race, he was sent out on slick tyres. And while there was a dry line, the circuit was still damp, greasy, and cold. Turner and Topham ended the season with 170 points, four clear of their nearest rivals.

The result marked Turner’s seventh visit to the podium from eight attempts in British GT this season.

It was a remarkable campaign that featured three class victories, including an overall GT4 win in the ‘blue riband’ Silverstone 500 event. It was also Turner’s second title with Aston Martin, having won the European Le Mans Series crown alongside Andrew Howard at Beechdean AMR in 2016.

“This was an amazing way to wrap up the season,” said Turner. “I’ve enjoyed wins in GT Cup and British GT, I got to race in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, which was an unexpected bonus, and I absolutely loved my time racing with The Heart of Racing in the Daytona 24 Hours.

“Probably the stand-out highlight of the season was winning the TT in the Goodwood Revival but being a British GT champion is very special too. I’m extremely grateful to all of my partners who make the racing possible and I’m looking forward to what 2022 brings behind the steering wheel.”

Donington Park marked the last competitive outing for Turner in 2021, as he now turns his attention to developing high performance Aston Martin Lagonda road cars for the rest of the year.

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