The first race weekend of the inaugural IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Series has come to a close, and Turner Motorsport has once again established itself as a force to be reckoned with as the team moves towards the second race of the season, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
The entire Turner team, both crew members and drivers worked hard before the 24's scheduled 2:30 p.m. start time on Saturday afternoon, preparing and qualifying the No. 94 Z4 GTD for the grueling 24-hour event.
Friday afternoon, BMW Motorsport Factory Driver Augusto Farfus turned-in a solid qualifying performance, placing the No. 94 machine in the P12 starting position for the following day's test of endurance. The top nineteen qualifiers in the GTD class all clocked-in qualifying times within one second of each other, making Farfus' drive ever-the-more impressive.
At the start of the race, Turner placed young-gun Dane Cameron behind the wheel of the Turner BMW Z4. Cameron quickly settled into a rhythm, recording consistent lap times while keeping the blue and yellow BMW away from the initial chaos and traffic of a 67-car field fighting for position during the opening laps of the contest.
After a two-hour opening stint that saw Cameron fight his way back through the field following contact with another car, he handed over the reins to Turner driver Paul Dalla Lana. As the evening wore on Dalla Lana competed his three-hour stint before handing the wheel over to BMW Factory Driver and German DTM star Augusto Farfus.
Despite now being in P24, due to a costly headlight and taillight malfunction and subsequent extended pitstop, Farfus wasted no time in quickly getting the BMW Z4 back into contention. After four long hours in the car Farfus had picked off a total of seven GTD competitors, placing the car in P17 before the Blancpain Endurance Series driver Markus Palttala headed back out on track.
"It was one of the toughest 24-hour events I have ever done – I never had the chance to let up – I pushed and pushed the whole time, I think I did about ten hours in the car during the race. It is a shame we lost five laps at the beginning because of the tail lights," said Farfus.
Throughout the night the Turner team continued their steady and hard-working pace, maintaining their position while slowly moving up the leader board. As the sun rose over Daytona the No. 94 was now in P9, with seven hours to go. As the clock wound down and the race entered its final hours Augusto Farfus once again climbed onboard to put the hammer down and finish the race. Ultimately, the Turner No. 94 Z4 finished in the P7 position in the GTD class. An impressive feat, considering the massive 29-car GTD field.
"I am extremely happy with the results, our entire crew and drivers did a fantastic job preparing and executing our strategy for this daunting race. The top 20 GTD cars were all within less than a second of each other in qualifying which made for an extremely competitive field throughout the entire race," said Owner Will Turner. "Unfortunately a minor electrical problem put us five laps down early on. We were never able to recover from but we did our best to charge to the front picking up two laps by the end of the race and finishing a strong top-ten in P7."
"We still could have had a chance to win, but unfortunately we didn't have enough yellows during the night to get the laps back. However, the team did a fantastic job as the car ran without any other issues. It was good for me to start the year like this, and I am ready to start the DTM now," said Farfus.
Turner Motorsport will return to the track on Saturday, March 15, 2014 for the 62nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Photos by Wes Duenkel Motorsport Photography: All Rights Reserved.