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!”