Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner's FIA GT1 World Championship title bid hangs in the balance after heavy damage was sustained to the pair's Aston Martin DB9 in a practice accident at San Luis this afternoon.
The Young Driver Aston Martin team is in a race against time and parts resources to complete chassis repairs at the remote Potrero de los Funes circuit in Argentina. Mucke and Turner entered this weekend's championship finale as the closest challengers in the drivers' standings to leading JRM Nissan crew Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm.
"It looked like there was only cosmetic damage, a bit of scuffing, but in fact the situation is quite the reverse," said Turner. "The car has hit the wall hard, square on with two wheels, at high speed. Outside it doesn't look bad, but underneath the damage is extensive. We're just ascertaining now if it is structurally repairable, as we haven't got a complete spare parts package with us."
German Mucke was at the wheel when the accident occurred in this afternoon's second practice session.
"There is a bump at Turn 21, a fast left-right," continued the Briton. "Stefan was just really unlucky catching the bump, and it pushed him off-line and smack into the wall.
"When the cars were flat-bottomed it wouldn't have been such a problem, but with the planks underneath the cars now there's a real point of impact. On a bumpy circuit perhaps the planks create as many issues as they solve."
Mucke and Turner are one of five pairings in contention for the FIA GT1 drivers' crown. But even without the added dramas of the crash, Turner acknowledged the difficulty of overhauling the well-placed Luhr and Krumm combination. The all-German line-up enjoys an 11-point advantage in the drivers' standings, with just 33 points on offer this weekend.
"We're fully on the back foot," said Turner. "We had to have everything go our way to stand a chance anyway. We think the weight we carry here is worth a second. On the simulation, starting from zero and adding our 55kg it seems to be worth one second."
A decision to withdraw could be forced on the Young Driver team by the length of time it would take parts to reach Argentina from Europe.
"Coming from the UK, it has taken 28 hours to get to the hotel," said Turner. "So, by the time we order parts the weekend will be over. If we can't repair it now we won't be out tomorrow, I think we will probably make a decision in the next couple of hours if it is possible.
"The construction of the Aston Martin makes it a difficult task. With an old still chassis car you could probably patch it up with a bit of welding and bending. But because the Aston is aluminium and bonding you can't weld it up."