I had been to the new Algarve Circuit to test prior to Le Mans, so as a team we were familiar with the circuit. I'd been there with Nissan as well, so I'd done a reasonable amount of laps before we arrived for the race weekend.
But when you're testing, you're just driving round by yourself. There is, at most, a handful of cars and you hardly ever get any traffic. The track is a whole different ball game when it's full of cars, particularly in the Le Mans Series with such a big speed difference.
Darren Turner at Portimao in the Lola-Aston Martin
You'd often get tucked up behind a GT2 car and it'd be three or four corners before you'd get past. We were a bit unlucky with that in qualifying and ended up fifth.
It's the nature of the circuit, there are a lot of elevation changes and twisty corners so you can easily get stuck behind other cars. It costs you time and it also costs the guys you're overtaking time as well.
But the traffic made for good racing, it was very close. I was actually watching the first hour of the race, which I rarely get to do because I usually start the race in the car - it was good to watch it from the other side. There was some really good racing at the front with the Pescarolo, the Ginetta and the second ORECA car involved as well. They'd concertina through the traffic and it was good stuff to watch.
I was suffering from man flu all weekend so I didn't think I could do too much time in the car. Miguel [Ramos] started and did a good job, but even by his own admission it was a quite a conservative double stint and we lost some time. Then Harold [Primat] had a bit of a coming together with a GT2 car and another spin, so by the time I got in four hours into the race, we were four laps down.
I was feeling pretty under the weather and I wasn't sure how I'd cope, but it was pitch black by then and I really enjoyed it. Harold wasn't feeling well either so when I thought I was done for the day I had to get back out and finish the race. I didn't think I'd have the energy but I kept a good pace and we started and finished fifth, so we didn't gain or lose anything.
Adrenalin makes a big difference. Before getting in the car I was feeling pretty sorry for myself and I didn't expect to do a great job, but once you get to the end of the pitlane, you just get on with it. There are times when you feel it and it's hard, but ultimately you just get carried away with it. I was relieved to finally get the race out of the way though.
I also did the Spa 24 Hours last month with Nissan, and it was good to get out racing again. It was a great job to get the car to the end, I enjoyed working with Anthony [Davidson] again and Michael [Krumm].
It's actually been quite a busy time so it's nice to have a couple of weeks off now to have some time away from racing. I'm just about to go and do another 24-hour race, though. Only this time it's on a mountain bike.
The team is me, Peter Dumbreck, Alan van der Merwe and Peter's father-in-law Roger. The course is in Catton Park in Staffordshire and the lap is about seven miles and takes around 50 minutes. It's a nice course, through some fields and woods, with some nice technical stuff and a little bit of downhill as well.
Most people have teams of four or five, but there are some people that try to do it solo, which is completely crazy! We do single stints during the day and try to do doubles at night. It's a really good event with a great atmosphere, very much like Le Mans - only here I'll have a sore arse by the end!
Darren Turner © LAT
Once this mountain bike race is behind me that's all my 24-hour races over for the season, which is a bit of a shame because it feels like the year is half done already.
But there's plenty of work still to do with Aston Martin. The diesels are still miles ahead of where we are now, especially the Peugeot. We had a test day at Donington last week which went really well. We found some progress with the car and hopefully we can show that with good runs in the coming LMS races at the Nurburgring and Silverstone.
It's really pleasing to find tenths here and there, but it's still seconds to the Peugeots and Audis. I'm not sure how the regulations will go next year, but I think something has to happen over the winter to allow not just Aston Martin, but the likes of ORECA and Pescarolo, to get into the mix. We'll see, but for now I'm off mountain biking. See you after the Nurburgring.
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