Darren Turner is a British racing driver who spent the most of his career as an Aston Martin Racing factory driver. Driving for Aston Martin, Turner scored three GT class wins and four more class podiums at 24 Hours of Le Mans, plus one more podium with Ferrari. He was also European Le Mans Series GTE class champion in 2016 with Aston Martin and FIA WEC GTE Pro vice-champion in 2012.
Besides racing Aston Martins in sports car competitions, Turner spent two seasons with Mercedes in the DTM and three seasons with Seat in the BTCC.
Earlier in a career, while racing in open-wheel competitions, his greatest success was the second place in the 1998 Formula Palmer Audi. He was also testing Formula 1 cars with several teams and served as McLaren test driver from 1997 to 2006, but never had a chance to race in F1.
McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award in 1996
Born in April 1974 in Camberley, Surrey, Darren Turner started his racing career in 1993. He had a successful start, winning the Formula First Winter Series. In the following years, he competed in Formula Vauxhall and Formula Renault.
In 1996, he finished second in the British Formula Renault and earned the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award. This led to the test with several F1 teams (McLaren, Arrows, Jordan). In 1997, he was chosen to serve as McLaren F1 Team test driver, competing at the same time in British Formula 3.
Formula Palmer Audi vice-champion in 1998
In 1998, Turner participated in the inaugural season of the Formula Palmer Audi. He won three races and finished as a vice-champion, losing a title to Justin Wilson.
Next year, he wasn't racing much because he was busy as McLaren test driver. He recorded one single start in the Italian Formula 3000 Championship.
Two DTM seasons with Mercedes
In 2000, still as a test driver for McLaren-Mercedes F1 team, Turner was recruited by Mercedes to drive for Team Rosberg in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM). At the wheel of AMG-Mercedes CLK-DTM, Turner finished 14th in the points with sixth place at season's finale at Hockenheim as his season-best result.
In 2001, Turner stayed with Team Rosberg but didn't improve his performance. The eighth place was his best result and he finished 15th in the final classification.
Six wins in the ASCAR stock car series
In 2002, Turner worked for McLaren as a test driver and raced part of the season in the UK-based stock car racing series ASCAR.
He missed the first two rounds but when he entered the competition he was one of the leading drivers, scoring four pole position, six wins and nine podiums in thirteen races. Driving the #69 Pontiac for the Team HTML, he finished seventh in Drivers' standings, securing Team's title for HTML.
Switching to GT racing in 2003
In 2003, Turner started his GT racing career, joining Team Maranello Concessionaires in the FIA GT Championship and Veloqx Prodrive Racing in the American Le Mans Series. He also made Le Mans 24h debut with Veloqx Prodrive, driving the #80 Ferrari 550 Maranello. Sharing a car with Anthony Davidson and Kelvin Burt, he retired after 176 laps.
He was second in GTS class at Sebring 12 Hours and won ALMS race in Miami, sharing a car with David Brabham. In the FIA GT Championship, Turner was sharing the #89 Ferrari 360 Modena with Kelvin Burt or Jamie Davies, finishing 8th in N-GT class standings.
2004 - podium at Le Mans alongside Colin McRae
In 2004, Turner was not racing much because he worked for McLaren F1 Team as a test driver and also worked for Aston Martin as a test and development driver in their DBR9 project.
However, he joined Prodrive Racing at 24 Hours of Le Mans and scored his first of many podiums at Circuit de la Sarthe. He was sharing the #65 Ferrari 550 Maranello with Colin McRae and Rickard Rydell, finishing ninth overall and the third in GTS class.
Racing with Aston Martin DBR9 since 2005
In 2005, a development has been done and Aston Martin DBR9 made a racing debut. Turner competed with that car in selected events of the FIA GT Championship, American Le Mans Series and Le Mans Series.
In the first race with a DBR9, he won GT1 class at Sebring 12 Hours, sharing the #57 car with David Brabham and Stephane Ortelli. At Le Mans 24h, he finished ninth overall and third in GT1 class, together with David Brabham and Stephane Sarrazin.
In 2006, Turner spent a season with Aston Martin Racing in the American Le Mans Series, winning two races in the #007 Aston Martin DBR9, sharing a car with Tomaš Enge. At Le Mans, Turner was second in GT1 class together with Tomaš Enge and Andrea Piccini.
Three seasons in the British Touring Car Championship
In 2006, parallel to his ALMS commitments with Aston Martin, Turner joined Seat Sport UK in the British Touring Car Championship, sharing the team's second Seat Leon with James Thompson, as a teammate to Jason Plato. Turner participated in five rounds (15 races), scoring one podium.
In 2007, Turner stayed with Seat Sport UK as a full-time driver in the #12 Seat Leon. He won three races, finishing sixth in the final standings. One more BTCC season followed in 2008, this time in Seat Leon TDI. He won two races, finishing 8th in the points.
Two Le Mans victories in an Aston Martin DBR9
While racing on a full-time basis in the BTCC, Turner continued to develop his GT racing career, scoring two consecutive GT1 class wins at 24 Hours of Le Mans, both in an Aston Martin DBR9. In 2007, his partners at Le Mans were David Brabham and Rickard Rydell. In 2008, Turner and Brabham repeated a victory, supported by Antonio Garcia as the third driver.
Turner scored some more GT racing success in that period, such were ALMS GT2 class win at Salt Lake City in a Ferrari F430 GTC (with Tomaš Enge) or fourth place overall at 2008 Daytona 24 Hours in Krohn Racing's Riley-Pontiac (with Niclas Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta).
Three Le Mans attempts in Aston Martin LMP1 prototypes
In 2009, Turner left BTCC and rejoined Aston Martin as a full-time driver in their LMP1 programme. He was driving a Lola-Aston Martin B09/60 in the Le Mans Series, helping the team to capture Teams' title. Turner himself finished fourth in the points. At Le Mans, he finished 13th together with Jos Verstappen and Anthony Davidson. In 2009, Turner also raced with Nissan GT-R R35 in the FIA GT Championship.
In 2010, Turner retired at Le Mans in a Lola-Aston Martin LMP1 prototype. His crew completed 368 laps but didn't reach the finish line. He was sharing the #009 car with Juan Barazi and Sam Hancock. In 2010, Turner scored three wins in the FIA GT1 World Championship in an Aston Martin DBR9, finishing fourth in the points.
In 2011, Turner had a disappointing attempt at Le Mans in an Aston Martin AMR-One, retiring after just four laps. He was sharing a car with Stefan Mücke and Christian Klien. On the other side, Turner had a successful season in the FIA GT1 World Championship, finishing second in the points. His co-driver in the #8 Aston Martin DBR9 was Stefan Mücke.
Australian adventure at Surfers Paradise
In 2011, Turner also traveled to Australia to participate in the Gold Coast 600 event at Surfers Paradise, a part of the V8 Supercars Championship. He was a co-driver to James Courtney in the #1 Holden VE Commodore, finishing 14th in Saturday's race and 6th in Sunday's race.
Turner returned to Australia in 2012, again as a partner to James Courtney. They were sharing the #22 Holden, finishing 7th (Saturday) and 17th (Sunday).
FIA WEC regular from 2012, two Le Mans podiums in 2012 and 2013
In 2012, the FIA World Endurance Championship was revived and Darren Turner became part of Aston Martin Racing GTE programme. His partners in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE were Stefan Mücke (full season) and Adrian Fernandez (four races). After six podiums, including at Le Mans, they won at Shanghai to finish second in the points.
In 2013, Turner and Mücke were partners again in the #97 car, scoring three wins to finish third in GT classification. At Le Mans they were third again, joined by Peter Dumbreck as the third driver.
One more Le Mans victory in 2017
Darren Turner was a part of Aston Martin Racing's FIA WEC programme until 2017. He was a race winner in the #97 car once in 2014 and once in 2016, scoring no wins in 2015. The results at Le Mans 24h were under expectations.
And then, in 2017, Turner managed to win at Le Mans for the third time in a career. He was the GTE Pro class winner in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage together with Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra. It was Turner's only win in the 2017 FIA WEC season and he finished seventh in the final points of GT drivers.
European Le Mans Series GTE class champion in 2016
While servings as AMR factory driver in the FIA WEC, Turner was driving Aston Martins in many other competitions on a part-time basis. In 2016, he was a part of AMR effort in the European Le Mans Series, participating in all six races in the #99 Aston Martin Vantage.
His partners were Andrew Howard and Alex MacDowall. They were race winners two times, winning the GTE class championship title. Turner repeated full-time ELMS campaign in 2017 with Andrew Howard's Beechdean AMR. Without wins, he finished fifth in the points.
2018 - a rookie in the British GT Championship
In 2018, Turner stayed with Beechdean AMR but in the British GT Championship. He was sharing the #99 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 with Andrew Howard. It was Turner's first full season in the national GT championship so, at the age 43, he could be considered as a rookie. He was on a podium three times, finishing fifth in the points.
For the 2019-2020 FIA WEC season, Turner switched to GTE Am class, sharing the factory-entered #98 Vantage with Ross Gunn and Paul Dalla Lana.