TF Sport looked set to take their maiden victory in the FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend (18-19 August) at Silverstone, but ultimately the team had to be content with the runner-up position having dominated from the front. The second podium in three starts in the series marked another strong performance, but ultimately, they left their home race disappointed.
Jonny Adam joined Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood in the #90 Aston Martin Vantage for the third round of the championship and along with Salih qualified a solid third in the LMGTE Am class. Salih was charged with the opening stint and mindful that a race can be lost – and not won – on the opening lap, the Turkish driver opted to take a conservative approach at the green flag.
This payed dividends as cars ahead clashed and Salih competed the first lap of the race leading the class, setting the stage for the six hours of racing ahead. Despite losing the lead to the #56 Team Project entry, Salih’s opening stint was strong, keeping the two Dempsey-Proton cars behind under sustained pressure.
Charlie took over from Salih and continued to hold position and despite having to defend, was able to close the gap from 16 seconds to run directly behind the leader before he ended his run. Salih was next up before handing back to Charlie as the duo maintained position and kept the pressure on for the lead.
A safety car intervention in the third stint of the race however proved to be pivotal in the race. The rules dictate that a team cannot pit during the first three laps of the period. TF Sport pitted at the end of the third lap but unfortunately, despite the safety car having crossed the line, the pit remained shut. After a period of consultation, it was deemed that the #90 had entered the pits fractionally too early.
The final third of the race saw Jonny take his double stint, immediately making a great pass for the lead into Brooklands on lap 120. The penalty notice came through at this point and the team opted to take the 75-second stop-go penalty immediately.
Jonny resumed in second position, but any hope of victory had evaporated and despite his best efforts, the team had to accept second position. Whist disappointed with the result, it was TF Sport’s second podium position in three starts and the additional 18 points move the team fifth in the GTE Am standings with five rounds of the Super Season remaining.
“It was a good race from start to finish for us, we executed everything we needed to do and all of us performed at the top of our own FIA driver ratings. We got a bit unlucky with the penalty, it was one of those hit or miss situations. We missed the pit line by six seconds and that cost us a 75-second stop-go which really is quite harsh. It shows how much pace we had that we could recover from that to get P2.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“Ahead of the weekend we would have taken P2 to be honest. We couldn’t have done anything different really, if we’d stayed out and they’d come in, they would have won anyway and we’d have been second; if we’d followed them in we would both have got a penalty and we’d still be second. It’s lucky for the (race winning) #77 car in terms of the championship but overall Salih, Jonny and Charlie were all good, the team performed well, so we can be happy with our performance.”
“It’s hard to be happy with a second position when you should have won. It’s unfortunate for us that the #77 car won the race and we were second as we should have closed the gap to them in the championship.”
“It’s good to get on the podium but it would have been nicer had we won it and it’s a shame as we all had good pace and we all drove well. It’s just one of those things, but other than that it was really nice to get back in the car and we had a good strategy in terms of tyre choice and setup for the race. Looking ahead to Fuji, the track should suit the car, so I’m looking forward to the fly-aways.”
Charlie Eastwood showed that he is a match for anybody in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with a pair of second-place finishes at Snetterton.
After scoring a top-ten at Silverstone in the Supercup two weeks ago, the Porsche Scholar enjoyed his best weekend to date in Norfolk as he pressurised series leader Dan Cammish throughout the first race, adding a fastest lap for good measure.
Returning to the circuit where he enjoyed his greatest success in single-seaters, Eastwood had earmarked the 2.9 mile circuit as one to make his mark and was duly on the pace from the word go in Friday practice.
The young Northern Irishman’s qualifying was compromised by traffic at Oulton Park and Croft, but there were no such problems for Eastwood at Snetterton, lining up second on the grid for both races. However, he felt there was still more time in the car and was determined not to allow Cammish to run away with it in race one.
When the lights turned green, Eastwood doggedly pursued his Redline Racing team-mate until the intervention of an errant lapped car handed Cammish a reprieve, eventually finishing 1.7 seconds behind.
“We got off to a good start and really started to push Dan. We were able to get close to him and challenge him for the lead, when with about four laps to go, we caught up with a backmarker and got tangled up with him. Dan got past him on the straight and I got stuck in the corner, which cost me a second and unfortunately that was my chance gone”
A small mistake at Williams on the opening lap of race two meant Eastwood would face a tough ask to dislodge Cammish from the top spot, but got his head down and drove a clean race to finish just 1.5 seconds in arrears.
In the second race again we had another good start into second, but we just went in a little hot and got a big bit of oversteer, which gave Dan a two second lead. We were able to close the gap to the end of the race and we were four hundredths off the fastest lap, but there just wasn’t enough to challenge for the win. Still, to be pushing Dan is a great position to be starting the second half of the year because we know that he’s a good benchmark for the top five in Supercup, so we’re really happy with that.
In only his fifth weekend in the championship, a first Carrera Cup win is now firmly in Eastwood’s sights, although he’s not lost sight of how far he has already come in his new discipline.
“Of course you always want to win and you always want a little more, but you have to be realistic and see what you’re up against. To be right up at the sharp end against guys with Dan’s experience and get fastest lap in race is great for my confidence – it’s been a really good weekend.”
Eastwood’s next outing comes in two weeks’ time as the championship heads north to Knockhill in Scotland, where the youngster will look to continue his strong form.