It wasn’t to be this year for TF Sport in what was its second 24 Hours of Le Mans. From the outset, the team battled on, but early safety car interventions, damage to the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE during the night and finally a mechanical failure resulted in a late race retirement from the toughest event on the calendar.
Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Charlie Eastwood paired up once again in what was the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season. Having finished a fighting second at Spa-Francorchamps, the British-based team believed for a podium position in the 24 Hours of Le Mans was a real possibility.
Lining up sixth in the LMGTE Am class after a strong performance from all three drivers in qualifying, Euan took the start of the race, immediately gaining two positions to run fourth in class. The timing of two safety cars however resulted the team dropping down to eighth following Euan’s first stint and a double from Salih.
Charlie resumed with the team maintaining position into the night until debris from another car struck the Aston Martin ahead of the stop on lap 149, where the team went to work replacing the bonnet. The impact however had damaged the bonnet pins and it took the team several minutes to fit the spare. Undaunted, the team and drivers pushed on only for a starter motor issue to cost further time in the morning; the team having worked around the problem from lap 274.
Having lost time in the pits, a dream result was no longer a possibility and with the race coming to its conclusion, Euan took over for a double stint with 22 hours complete. Unfortunately, he made a small mistake, and this resulted in a high-speed run though the gravel trap and subsequent driveshaft failure. Despite the best efforts of the team, the race was over with less than an hour of running to go.
“It wasn’t the result that we’d hoped for as the race threw various hurdles, the last of which we fell at in the last hour. The team and drivers all showed great courage to keep pushing, even when we were out of contention. Now I’m looking forward to the rest of the season as we’ve not scratched the surface of what we can do as a team.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“What could go wrong went wrong this year which is a huge shame. We lost nearly 30 minutes in the pits with problems and that took us out of contention and we just wanted to bring the car home. Euan made a mistake sadly and this resulted in us not finishing the race. It wasn’t to be, so we look forward to our third visit to Le Mans at the end of the WEC Super Season.”
“Everything went wrong but we kept pushing on. I ran early on in the race and even then it was a real battle on the track and I was caught up in slow zones that cost us over a lap. I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support, sometimes it’s not meant to be.”
“Unfortunately, we didn’t quite make it to the finish due to my mistake in the last stint which popped a drive shaft. We were already out of contention having suffered multiple issues. I want to apologise and thank all of the boys at TF Sport who worked tirelessly over the two weeks and deserved a finish. The same goes to my very fast teammates who gave everything despite the setbacks.”
Charlie Eastwood capped an encouraging first outing in the Porsche Supercup with a top-10 finish at Silverstone on the British Grand Prix weekend.
The 20-year-old Porsche Scholar finished right on the bumper of fellow guest driver and Carrera Cup GB championship leader Dan Cammish in tenth place after 10 frenetic laps of green-flag racing, which started behind the Safety Car due to Silverstone’s famously inclement weather.
Although Eastwood had already raced at the Northampton venue this year in support of the World Endurance Championship, where he picked up two podium positions, the weekend would see the Northern Irishman pitched against the very best one-make Porsche drivers in the world, including one who has previous experience racing for the factory Porsche team in the WEC.
As such, Eastwood headed into the weekend with very little by way of expectation, but came away with his confidence boosted having proved that he could mix it with vastly more experienced drivers.
“It’s been a very productive weekend and given me a great insight into what’s needed if I do another Supercup round with regards to what the grip levels are like, because it was like driving a different car with the rubber on track. It was such a tough group of drivers out there as well, so it’s great to come away with a top-ten from the highest level of Porsche racing. I really enjoyed the experience and I’ll be taking a lot from it going into the rest of the season.”
Eastwood was docked three places on the grid for a track limits violation in qualifying and started from 16th position, but didn’t let that distract him from the task in hand.
Once the Safety Car peeled in after two slow laps, the Redline Racing rookie got his head down and steadily moved his way through the pack, with Michael Ammermueller and Christian Engelhart – both former winners in Supercup – powerless to hold him off in the tricky conditions.
Eastwood believed further positions were possible, but was still delighted to have passed his first real test with flying colours.
“There were five guest drivers in the top ten, so if you go to another Supercup round where there’s no guest drivers then that puts you around P6, which is really encouraging. The start was under Safety Car, so instead of starting from the eighth row it was the 16th row because we were single file and from there it was a lot harder to make up positions. In the end we were about a second quicker than the guys in front and we finished right behind them, so I think we definitely put on a good show.”
It comes after a busy few weeks for Eastwood, who finished fifth in the Goodwood shootout with his regular Carrera Cup machine.
“I’d never been to Goodwood before, so it was always a big part of my bucket list. I was really happy when I was told at the start of the year that I would be competing up the hill and we had another great result there in the shootout where the four cars in front of me had double the horsepower. All in all, it was a weekend of celebration and another really fantastic event to be a part of.”
His next outing in the Carrera Cup GB will be in three weeks’ time at Snetterton, Norfolk.