A fourth Aston Martin Racing factory driver will grace the British GT Championship in 2018 with the news this morning that Darren Turner will join two-time Championship winner Andrew Howard for the full season in a Beechdean AMR-entered Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. The announcement appears to confirm too that Andrew Howard is set to step away for the 2018 season from the ELMS and a potential WEC effort.
Howard, who won the title in 2013 and 2015, stepped away from the championship in 2016 to concentrate on Beechdean AMR’s ELMS and Le Mans graduation. Now, after a season away, the Prodrive-supported squad is back as Howard attempts to become the first driver to win three senior class crowns.
With this year’s GT3 Pro roster packed full of talent, Beechdean AMR has turned to one of the most successful GT drivers of his generation and a bona fide Aston Martin Racing legend to partner Howard. Turner joined the factory roster in 2005 and has since claimed three Le Mans class victories, the most recent coming in 2017 when he partnered new British GT rival and former Beechdean AMR driver Jonny Adam.
Indeed, the news means four of AMR’s six FIA WEC drivers will contest British GT’s GT3 class this season after TF Sport confirmed Dane Train members Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim in late December and Optimum Motorsport named Jonny Adam as part of their now Aston-powered squad.
2018 also marks Turner’s first full British GT season. The 43-year- old has only one previous appearance to his name, which also came alongside Howard in a Barwell Motorsport-prepared Beechdean Aston Martin DBRS9 at Silverstone in 2010 when the pair finished third overall.
Howard and Turner have also spent the last two seasons racing together in the ELMS and won the GTE title together in 2016.
“It has been a long time since I’ve raced at many of the circuits on the British GT Championship calendar,” said Turner. “British GT has been booming for many years now and the depth of competition this year is equal to many of the international championships. With full, competitive grids, it’s going to be an exciting season for the drivers, the teams and of course the fans.
“I’m looking forward to sharing a car with Andrew [Howard] again. It has been a lot of fun competing with Beechdean in the European Le Mans Series over the past two years and I know we have the potential to win races this year.
“Andrew has won the British GT Championship twice in the Vantage GT3 so he knows how strong the car is and how well it works on the British circuits. I’ve always really enjoyed the time I’ve spent behind the wheel of the GT3. With a 6-litre V12 up front how can you not enjoy driving that car?”
Howard added that the cut and thrust of GT3 had been a major factor for returning after two seasons of long-distance racing.
“I am really looking forward to competing in British GT again,” he said. “I strongly believe it’s the best Pro/Am championship in Europe and this year looks extra special. The ultimate endurance test of ELMS and Le Mans has been amazing but a year off to concentrate on close GT3 racing and, hopefully, testing with a new car later in the year was something that couldn’t be missed.”
This year’s British GT Championship gets underway at Oulton Park on its traditional Easter Bank Holiday weekend date (March 31 – April 2).