Difficult end to fantastic Blancpain Endurance campaign for TF SportBack
Having clinched the Blancpain Endurance Cup crown last time out the 24 Hours of Spa, TF Sport, Jonny Adam and Ahmad Al Harthy headed to the season finale in Barcelona (1 October, 2017) hoping to cap off the season in style. Unfortunately, light contact and subsequent damage to the #97 Aston Martin meant that the team had to be content with sixth position in the Pro-Am class on this occasion.
Salih Yoluc joined the team once again, aiming to finish second in the championship despite having missed rounds at the start of the season. The sixth-place finish, however, meant he had to be content with third as he now shifts his focus to sealing the European Le Mans Series title later this month in Portugal.
Yoluc started the race second in class in tricky damp conditions and wisely steered clear of the inevitable opening lap drama. The race settled with the Turkish racer in eighth position in class before handing over to Al Harthy. It was in this stint that light contact with another car resulted in the front-right bodywork become detached and despite the best efforts of Al Harthy, and later Adam in his stint, were only able to bring the car home in sixth position.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“The weekend was tricky. FP1 was decent and we worked hard on balance and then pre-qualifying was again difficult with the weather. Qualifying proper was tense with changing conditions but we got it right and Jonny's lap was good. So P9 overall for the start. The first stint was really hard for Salih being surrounded by the Pros but he came in second out of the bronze drivers out there.
“Ahmad was flying at the start of his stint and I thought we were on for a podium, but slight contact lost us the right-front bodywork which has a big effect on performance. Jonny's stint was compromised, but as always, he did a mega job and kept everyone behind and we came home P6. Not the result we wanted as I think we had the pace for third, but we walk away champions and that is what is important.”
“It was quite tough for me as it was my first ever stint with slicks on damp track. Obviously the more experienced drivers passed me on the first few laps. I should have been a bit faster, but that stems from the lack of confidence in the conditions.
“After eight or nine laps my right front tyre felt like it was not working at all! I felt like I was turning with 75% of the wheels, especially the right turns were disaster and helps explain why I couldn't go faster. I started my first Blancpain race which is a good experience for the future though, so that is the positive to take from the race.”
Ahmad Al Harthy
“It was a very tough race for us but we battled hard throughout, to come home with P6 is a respectable way to end an absolutely incredible season for Oman Racing. It was wonderful of Blancpain to invite us onto the podium to celebrate our championship win.
“At the start of the year, if we’d been offered four podiums from five races and the championship we would obviously have taken it! This is one of the toughest championships in the world, certainly the hardest I have ever raced in, and so what we achieved is amazing for all of the sponsors, the supporters back in Oman and everyone who is part of what we do.”
TF Sport are next in action in the European Le Mans Series finale held in the Algarve International Circuit in south Portugal on 20-22 October.