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.”
TF Sport are looking forward to its home race this coming weekend (18 – 19 August) as the FIA World Endurance Championship travels to Silverstone for the third round of the 2019/19 Super Season.
As previously confirmed, Jonny Adam joins the team for the next three rounds of the championship with the blessing of Aston Martin Racing, teaming up with Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood in the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
TF Sport have shown great pace so far in the Super Season, finishing a fighting second in round one at Spa-Francorchamps, but at Le Mans, a failure to finish after more than 22 hours of competition proved costly in terms of championship points.
Now the team are all set for Silverstone, the circuit where they won in style earlier this year in British GT and in 2017 took their maiden win in the European Le Mans Series. Silverstone has been kind to TF Sport, with the team now seeking to add to the 18 points secured at Spa and close the gap to the GTE Am class leaders.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out in the GTE to set the record straight after Le Mans. We showed our pace and Spa and Silverstone is our home race for the team. We all know the track very well and we’re looking for a good result.”
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“I’m looking forward to this one, we have a good chance of success and we’ve always been very good around here. We are not under any illusion it’ll be easy but hopefully we can close the gap this Sunday and get ourselves back in the hunt. It’s along championship ahead – we’ll take the same view in maximising our potential at every round and hopefully we can get back on the top step for the second year running.”
“I’ve had a lot of good results at Silverstone and like the circuit. We have a strong car, strong team, and we do have some catching up to do after the unfortunate DNF at Le Mans. So, the goal here is to get the maximum points possible.”
“I am really looking forward to this weekend and re-joining with everyone TF Sport. It’s our home round at WEC so we’ll be aiming to get a great result. Salih and Charlie have already been on the podium this year at Spa, so we’ll be aiming to get another and kick-start their WEC championship campaign in style.”
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.”