When P3 feels like a win in ELMS Austria for TF Sport!Back
With the Balance of Performance hardly aiding their quest for victory, TF Sport pulled off a fantastic third place result in an epic battle Sunday (23 July, 2017) at the Red Bull Ring, very much against the odds to retain a six-point advantage in the European Le Mans Championship heading to Paul Ricard next month.
The #90 Aston Martin Vantage V8 was again in the very capable hands of Salih Yoluc, Euan Hanley and Nicki Thiim, the former completing a bulk of the running, recording the second-best time in FP1, only for a minor suspension issue to curtail the second practice session early. Qualifying saw Thiim push to the maximum, but whilst super-happy with the balance of the car, had to be content with fifth position on the grid.
Race day was nothing if an epic battle, where every tenth of a second counted. Yoluc duly lined up fifth, initially gaining ground in the frenetic first lap activity, only to run fifth again. Chasing the #77 car, Yoluc battled turn in understeer but was able to keep his rivals in range before handing over to Hankey for what would become a two-hour double stint.
Hankey quickly closed the 13-second deficit and passed the #77 car and set about cars ahead. Under sustained pressure from the #99 Aston, Hanley kept position before the recovering #51 gained position, making best use of traffic.
With 60-minutes of the four-hour race remaining, Thiim took over for the final stint, in what would be a fantastic battle for the final podium position.
The Aston Martin works driver made use of the fresh Dunlop rubber to dispatch of the #90 to move fourth and set about challenging the #51 of Roda ahead. After a fantastic and close battle, Thiim made the pass after a great dummy into turn three and despite sustained pressure from the Ferrari driver, held on to ensure a podium for TF Sport.
“That was intense, we didn’t have the pace for the victory. We had good top speed, but starting P5 was always going to be difficult at this short circuit. The BoP wasn’t great, but I don’t want to complain, as we had a great result and we’re still leading the championship heading to ‘Ricard.”
“That was an epic race, it literally felt like a win. Every tenth counted, it was so difficult for us, but we came through and a podium was just a dream result here in Austria.”
“The start was insane, I took my chances and a couple of times I closed my eyes as well! My stint was okay, but as we know the BoP isn’t on our side at all, so I pushed hard and then it was a down to Euan and Nicki. A great result for the team.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“We really didn’t expect a whole lot from the weekend with the BoP we have had to take. The car was heavy, and while top speed was okay, it really hurt us out of the corners. That said, to take P3 and retain the championship lead is exactly what we needed heading to France next month. The team did a great job, as did the drivers and I think we put on a good show for the GT3 class in what was a fantastic battle for the final podium position.”