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.”
Having shone at every level in GT Racing, TF Sport are set for its second 24 Hours of Le Mans this coming Saturday (16 June, 2018,) aiming to add the most famous race on the calendar to its already impressive tally of success.
Fielding the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE with Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Charlie Eastwood, the team have high expectations following a debut finish of seventh in the LMGTE-Am class in 2017.
Testing last Sunday saw the team notch up 59 laps during the day of running and the team are hoping to carry the momentum from its superb debut FIA World Endurance Championship race at Spa-Francorchamps where they finished second in class, just two-tenths of a second behind the race winner.
While the team have very high expectations of a strong result, they are well-aware of the pitfalls of 24-Hour races and the competition that will come from the other 12 runners in the class.
“I almost literally cannot wait! It’s not just the race, but that’s a huge element, it the whole thing, the build up to the event and all that goes with it. From a young age I’ve followed this race and to be taking part at this early stage of my career is something very special.
“The test was useful, all about mileage and track time rather than chasing any times. I completed my mandatory number of laps as a rookie at this circuit, and had a few extra, so that is a bonus. The weather forecast doesn’t look promising though with rain predicted. We’d all rather have a dry race as it’s one less variable for us to work with.
“I think we’re all at the top of our driver ranking classes, so we have a very good chance of a good result.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“This is one of those races where you can say ‘who knows?’ it really is a very tough race. We showed well in our first WEC race with our P2 result. I think the Le Mans field will be very competitive but we also have a stellar line-up and we will have decent pace.
“Last year we were faster than the class winner and for this race it’s all about staying out of trouble; it’s a really fine line between pushing and going fast and not making any mistakes. If we have a trouble-free event, I think we should be on the podium.”
“Le Mans is special, not just to me but for everyone in the motorsport world. It’s the biggest single race, probably bigger than any Grand Prix.
“Everybody dreams of racing at Le Mans. I’ve got two shots at this in the WEC Super Season. To win is always the ambition and would also be a huge relief. So that’s the aim but you always need luck at Le Mans. We’ll see what happens, but we’re good enough to win definitely.”
“I can’t wait! We had the pace to win last year and it was an amazing experience. I pray we can have the same package in terms of pace as in 2017. I think we’re all on the pace but at Le Mans it really isn’t all about lap time, it’s about no mistakes.
“I’m looking forward to being a celebrity again for all of those two minutes at the driver parade – the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life – I now know what Brad Pitt feels like!”
Ahmad Al Harthy, Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood joined forces for the third time this year in the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup, running the #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage at the Paul Ricard 1000km race.
Having previously secured two fifth positions in the championship, a podium position was a realistic aim, even with the addition of an extra 20KG of performance ballast.
The two day event saw the team work through the practice sessions ahead of qualifying on Saturday morning. All three drivers took part with an average time good enough for fifth position in the Silver Cup.
Ahmad took the start and during the opening hours of the race, made progress with Euan taking over from the Omani driver and putting in a particularly strong stint to move third in class.
At the halfway mark, Ahmad and soon after Charlie were back behind the wheel, leading the class at one stage, but a slow pitstop cost the team valuable time, dropping them to fifth.
Euan took over for the final run to the flag in darkness, picking up fourth position as a rival took a drive through penalty, to record the team’s best result of the season in the Blancpain GT Silver Cup.
“We were fast enough, we had the pace to finish second or third,” said TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “So with the speed it’s disappointing to lose time in the pits on more than one occasion. We also had some contact, but that wasn’t a factor. The winner got lucky with the timing of the safety car, so they were out of reach but we certainly could have had a podium. The stops cost us, so we just have to regroup and we’ll try again.”
TF Sport are next in action in the British GT Championship with momentum on their side and then it’s on to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
With a pair of fifth place finishes, Oman Racing with TF Sport head to Paul Ricard this weekend (1-2 June) for the third round of the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup, seeking a strong result to get their Silver Cup championship challenge back on track.
Chassis damage in practice for the first race of the season at Monza put the team on the back foot, while late race contact at Silverstone this month denied the team an almost certain podium position. Oman Racing with TF Sport however has a good record at the French Grand Prix venue where last year in the six-hour 1000KM race, the team finished second in class.
“Really looking forward to Paul Ricard. It’s longer than the other Blancpain GT races, so it will be a challenge. To add to the difficulties, the race will go into the night which again adds another very tough element. We had great pace in the race at Silverstone, just with some unfortunate damage, but we’re all looking for a good result at Paul Ricard.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“We turned the corner in British GT last weekend and we hope that we can do something similar this weekend at Paul Ricard in the Blancpain Series. We’ve not had the best results so far this year with two fifths, but we have shown good speed. We need to turn that speed into podium positions if we are to be in the running for the Silver Cup later in the year.”
Ahmad Al Harthy
“Last year we came away with a great result in Pro-Am and although we’re facing a different challenge this year in the Silver Cup, we are feeling confident we have a strong package. Obviously, anything can happen in a race as long as six hours, but we’ll approach it the same as any other, always pushing. With the night-time aspect too, this race acts as very strong preparation for the Total 24 Hours of Spa in July so everyone will have one eye on that too.”
“I’m really looking forward to Paul Ricard after a strong showing from us all at Silverstone. We were unfortunate not to come away with some silverware, so I’m confident we can challenge for honours this weekend. The 6-hour race poses a new challenge, and I have faith that it will play to our strengths with our race pace having been our biggest asset to date.”
A certain podium and potentially a race win seemed to be on the cards at the second round of the Blancpain GT Series last Sunday at Silverstone (20 May). Unfortunately, late race contact resulted in lost time and a fifth-place finish for Oman Racing with TF Sport.
Ahmad Al Harthy, Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood again teamed up in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and under sunny skies at Silverstone the trio worked through an extensive programme to ready themselves for the race.
Qualifying went to plan with the team recording the third fastest time – as an average – following runs for all three drivers. Ahmad lined up on the grid for the first stint as it was announced that the #90 entry had received a penalty and placed at the back of the grid.
Effectively starting second in the Silver Cup class, Ahmad – well-aware that to finish well, first you must finish – opted for a cautious start before handing over the Aston Martin to Euan in fifth position. The Scot took a more aggressive stance and was soon closing in on a tremendous battle for positions two through to five. Euan made ground and positions to move third in class at just over half distance.
Charlie took over for the final stint, putting laps significantly quicker than the two cars ahead. Very much in contention for the win, the Belfast-based racer went to pass a car in a differing class on lap 70, but contact was made, and he was forced to return to the TF Sport pit for a steering arm change. Fast work from the team ensured that he was able to re-join, but fifth position was the result.
“It’s disappointing as again we showed good pace,” stated TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “A podium was on the cards easy. Massive credit to the guys to fix and turnaround the car that fast as we still got a fifth place and good points. We cannot afford any slip ups now moving forward if we are serious about winning this championship.”
It’s only a short break until the third round of the Blancpain Endurance Cup, which takes place 1-2 June at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Oman Racing with TF Sport head to Silverstone this coming weekend (19-20 May) for the second round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
The opening race of the championship at Monza saw the team recover well from a lack of track time in practice to finish fifth in the Silver Cup with Ahmad Al Harthy, Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood. With over 50 cars competing, including nine in the Silver Cup, the fast sweeping nature of the Silverstone circuit is expected to play to the strengths of the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The team finished second at the same venue last year and recently enjoyed a successful test at the circuit as they chase their first podium of the Blancpain GT Series campaign.
“I’m looking forward to Silverstone, this is essentially my home track which also means the track I have driven most on the Blancpain calendar. We learned a lot in Monza with some great points to take from the weekend. I hope we can build on this going forward into Silverstone to try and get on the Silver Cup podium.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“Silverstone is our home race, so we’re all excited to be racing there. We believe the Aston Martin will be strong at this circuit and all three drivers know the track well. We have some improvements to make over Monza both from the team and from the drivers, but I’m confident we’ll be in the hunt for podium positions.”
Ahmad Al Harthy
“I’m looking forward to racing at Silverstone and it’s the home race for Aston Martin and TF Sport and indirectly Oman Racing as well. I’ve raced many times at Silverstone and I can’t wait to compete in the Silver Cup with my new teammates. We’re seeking a positive performance all around from qualifying to the race itself, but we know it’s going to be extremely challenging as we saw in Monza. There should be a large attendance, so I’m really looking forward to it and hope we can come out with a positive result.”
“We were hoping for a lot more at Monza, so we’ll be looking to bounce back this weekend at Silverstone. We tested there a few weeks back and it went well, so I’m confident we can get a good result and kick start our season.”
It was a near perfect start for TF Sport at the very highest level in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as just 0.2s separated them from a sensational debut win in the series on Saturday in what was a thrilling battle with the factory Aston Martin entry in the LMGTE Pro-Am class at Spa-Francorchamps.
After a pre-season test at Paul Ricard, plus additional testing in Europe, TF Sport were as prepared as they could be they could be heading into their maiden season in WEC. Having won in the Michelin Le Mans Cup, then in European Le Mans Series, the team arrived ready and battling for victories.
Qualifying didn’t go as planned with a setup issues on the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE costing both Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey dearly, but come race day, the pre-season hard work showed dividends.
Yoluc started the race from sixth and moved fourth from the get-go, showing clear intentions from the start. It was a very strong stint from the Bronze driver, who later opted to cede positions to the Pro drivers ahead before pitting for Charlie Eastwood.
Undeterred by this being his first WEC start, Eastwood wasted no time in closing the gap to those ahead in class, cutting the gap from some 80 seconds to 40 by the end of his stint, before Euan Hankey was handed the reins to bring the car home.
The gap hovered around the 35-second mark as Hankey and the factory #98 driven by Pedro Lamy traded best lap times. A safety car however closed the field with Hankey just six seconds adrift of the class, leader.
In a thrilling conclusion to six hours of racing, Hankey gave his absolute best to gain the win, before being pushed wide, and this resulted in the second-place finish; an astonishing result for the team on its WEC debut.
“We got a lot more than we really thought coming into this weekend with the second place, only two-tenths behind, so it was a massive battle in the last stint with Euan on Pedro Lamy so in the end a one-two for Aston Martin with TF on the podium in its first WEC race. It’s also a fantastic result for myself in what is just my second ever endurance race in what is a big pond – WEC – so it gives us massive confidence for the rest of the season.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“To come into the FIA World Endurance Championship and to do that is a fantastic achievement. In saying that, we had a little luck and there’s still a few things to improve on; we need to clean some things up. Qualifying we didn’t get right so to come away with P2 demonstrates a lot of potential, so quite happy.”
“It was a good result. The Porsches were super-quick around here and, in some ways, we gained from the problems they had but we also drove without any mistakes, so I am very happy with the result. For my own performance, I am happy. The first stint was more straight forward, the second was tougher with a lot of traffic so it was about managing that and I think I do an okay job there. Overall very happy with the result.”
“We’ve entered from the European Championship to the Word Championship this year and we’ve just had our first ever podium at our first round, so we’re happy with second – a bit deflated at the same time, as to lose by two-tenths… I gave everything, gave my hardest. We made a good account of ourselves for the rest of the season.”
TF Sport are set to embark on a new and exciting chapter in its short history, as the team travel to Belgium for the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) this coming weekend (May 3-5, 2018), the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
While the team competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, the opening round of the WEC Super Season will be the team’s first race at the very highest level in GT racing; an exciting challenge for the team as it fields the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE with Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Charlie Eastwood.
Pre-season preparation has been extensive with a comprehensive test programme in Europe including two days of running at the fabled Belgian circuit. The team know the GTE well from the 2017 season but are now step up in the LMGTE Am class to compete against eight other rivals in what will be a full grid of 37 cars.
“I am really looking forward to the first round of WEC at Spa. The season has started quite late so there has been a massive build up to this point. I think we have a very strong team in and outside the car so I’m really hoping for a great result to kick off our WEC season.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“This is our biggest year in motorsport and it’s a privilege to be racing at such a level and against such strong competition. We’re as prepared as we can be, and we think we have everything in hand. Making predictions at this point is difficult, but we’re a top team with top drivers, so we will give our all, both on and off the track, with the aim of securing podium positions.”
“Charlie and Euan – they are fast, no surprises there. We’ll have some good competition this year, nine cars in our class, so it will be tough but fun as well. The Porsche’s have been super-fast, so I expect it will be a big fight with them. I’ve raced with Euan since 2015 and I’m hoping this will be the biggest year of both of our racing careers. We are ready.”
“I’m really looking forward to Spa. It’s the first time for the team, myself, Salih and Charlie to be in involved in the FIA World Endurance Championship. We feel privileged to be on the world stage in such a prestigious championship. It’s obviously going to be difficult going up against some of the best drivers in the world. It’s also hard to know where our pace is in relative terms to everyone else because it’s a new BoP for this year and it’s hard to tell from the Prologue at Paul Ricard. It’s not going to be the strongest track for our package but I’m very much looking forward to it!”
It was a far from smooth ride, but one in which Oman Racing with TF Sport secured a fighting fifth place finish as the Blancpain GT Endurance Cup got underway this weekend at Monza, Italy (20-22 April) at an event where challenges were thrown at the team almost from the outset.
With plenty of pre-season testing complete for the team and the new driver line-up of Ahmad Al Harthy, Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood, the target for the opening round was the podium position – a realistic target given the unique nature of the circuit. All of that planning and preparation however came to zero as testing on Friday, ahead of official practice, saw the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 sustain significant chassis damage as a result of the aggressive kerbing at Monza.
With parts being brought in overnight from Prodrive in the UK, the team were forced to miss the first official practice session on Saturday with the aim of shakedown of the car in pre-qualifying. In race against time the team worked flawlessly to turn around the car, well ahead of schedule. With a record-breaking two-hour engine fitting, the team were back on track, albeit down on track time.
The team were disappointed to line up seventh on the grid in the Silver Cup class with Ahmad taking the first stint in the three-hour race. With over 50 cars in the field, the first lap was always going to be a lottery and with stricken cars blocking the exit at turn one, he dropped two positions before putting in a great performance to more than reclaim the lost ground.
Euan took over for the second stint from sixth, but a drive through penalty was handed to the team for an earlier incident where the team where adjudged to have failed to drop to the full course yellow 80 KPH within the time requirement. This 20-second plus time loss dropped the #97 Aston back down the order, but Euan was able to retake one position before handing over to Charlie for the final hour of running.
Eastwood was soon on the pace in fifth position, closing on the car ahead, but with the race leaders coming through, his challenge for further gains was compromised and the team had to settle for fifth position on what was a trying and equally impressive weekend from all at TF Sport.
“It’s been a massive learning curve for me over the whole weekend, learning the track and of course the car itself and the way the championship works. We had technical problems and that meant someone from Prodrive had to come in overnight to help us get the car ready for qualifying and the guys at TF did a great job to get the car rebuilt in under two hours. We kicked on in the race and made ground and my first stint in Blancpain went as good as it could really, so it’s looking really promising going into Silverstone.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“Credit to the team for their great work on Friday to put the car together and a big thanks to Prodrive for their efforts in helping us achieve this at Monza. The result, given everything we went through, is good enough. Looking at the final results we can see where we lost time, ten seconds here, 20 there. We don’t quite understand the drive through as Ahmad dropped to 80 KPH in under two-seconds as required, but we just have to take that. Had things gone more smoothly we believe we would have finished second or third, from seventh on the grid. Hopefully Silverstone will see us make the most of that potential.”
Ahmad Al Harthy
“First of all, I’d like to thank the team for an amazing job after the issues we had on Friday and to be able to get straight back out and set good time was extremely motivating for us. The start – it was good but the car in front had an issue, so I couldn’t go left or right, and unfortunately, we lost a few places. I was happy with my stint, we went down to ninth and then back up to sixth. The race pace was good and combined we all did a good job and we come out of this weekend in a solid position having learned so much in what is out first race ever in the Silver category.”
“A mega job by everyone to get us out there for pre-qualifying and a chance to shake down the car itself. That was really a win in itself. In the race, my stint, I had to take a drive through (due to a penalty earlier under full course yellow) but we were on the pace and fifth is okay considering where we were, is a very good result.”
It’s been a long off-season, one Oman Racing with TF Sport has been putting to good use as they prepare for the 2018 Blancpain GT Endurance Cup which gets underway this coming weekend (21-22 April) at Monza, Italy with a three-hour endurance race.
Having won the Pro-Am honours in 2017 with the team, Ahmad Al Harthy steps up in what is an all-Silver driver line-up and is joined by Euan McKay and Charlie Eastwood in the #97 Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3. Last year the team won the first round of the championship at Monza, something they hope to replicate in 2018 in the Silver Cup.
The team took part in the pre-season group test at Paul Ricard earlier in the year, accumulating plenty of laps and data before moving on to Silverstone last week for a final shake-down ahead of the new season.
“Pre-season testing has gone really well. For me it’s a brand-new car and experience so it was all about getting a much mileage as possible. From the past I think Monza is one of our strongest tracks so I’m really looking forward to getting a great start to our 2018 Blancpain programme.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“Testing has gone well so far, it’s always hard to know where you are testing so we are keen to get into qualifying and see for real. Blancpain is always a big challenge and the Silver Cup class looks very strong. We are hoping for a clean weekend and to start with a strong haul of points.”
Ahmad Al Harthy
“Euan, Charlie and I are working well together, they’re both quick drivers and I think we have a very competitive line-up for the new season. Having said that, there’s a lot of very tough opposition out there, so we know we have to work harder than ever. This is what we’re here for, though, to compete against the best in the world.
“I’m looking extremely forward to officially starting the new season. We’ve done all we can to be ready for the opening round at Monza, so I can’t wait to be back on the grid!”
“Really looking forward to Monza, we’ve just finished our pre-season testing programme and now I’m raring to go. I feel we are all dialled in and looking good as a unit. The car went well last year at Monza, so expectations are high, but ultimately, we’ll be looking to get off to a solid start and get some points on the board. I loved the circuit when I drove it a few weeks back, so I can’t wait to get there and get started!”