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.”