STRONG SHOWING FROM TF SPORT DUO IN 2021 ASIAN LE MANS SERIES
TF Sport has returned to the UK from the UAE, following their battle in what turned out to be, the most competitive Asian Le Mans Series grid of all time. The #97 Oman Racing by TF Sport Vantage GT3 finished eighth in the standings, as drivers Ahmad Al Harthy, Jonny Adam and Tom Canning were the innocent victims in a competitors incident, which denied them an almost certain victory and then narrowly missed out on a podium at the season finale. TF’s sister car, the #95 of John Hartshorne, Charlie Eastwood and Ollie Hancock, succeeded in a clean sweep of race finishes and scored their best finish at the last race of the ultra-compact two-week championship.
A single qualifying session for the first two rounds at the Dubai Autodrome saw Eastwood place the #95 Vantage as not only the fastest Aston Martin, but also the fastest non- Porsche qualifier for the first round and Adam fought hard for two top-10 starting positions.
The season opener proved just how competitive it was going to be for the British team, and an unfortunately-timed full course yellow period, cost #97 50 seconds, denying the Oman Racing by TF Sport crew a better result than P7. #95 had a tough start to the four- hour battle, but between the driver trio, they managed to fight back into contention and crossed the line in tenth.
A great strategy executed, but an unlucky penalty made the difference for #97 in the second round. Nevertheless, Oman Racing by TF Sport's bronze-graded driver Ahmad Al Harthy, drove an impressive stint and made it tough work for the pro drivers around him. Canning and Adam had some hard-fought battles and their recovery drivers saw #97 cross the line in seventh.
John Hartshorne in the #95 Vantage posted his fastest lap of the week during his stint and handed the car over to his pro drivers in a strong position. Progress by Hancock and Eastwood saw them take the flag in P11.
The competition became even more fierce, as the series moved to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Qualifying saw Adam qualify ninth and eighth for the double-header and Hancock peddled #97 to P15 for both races - a mere second off pole position and 0.5s from the sister car.
Disaster struck for the Oman Racing by TF Sport Vantage in round 3, after it became the innocent victim and was caught up in a fellow competitors incident, costing the #97 crew a top step finish. Nevertheless, Adam propelled the GT3 to the top three in the opening stages of the race, Al Harthy drove the stint of his life and Canning battled hard with the higher-graded pros. Unfortunately, the retirement meant that the #97 was taken out of contention for a Le Mans entry-winning spot.
The #95 crew recorded another finish, adding to their points tally. Qualifier Hancock took the start and managed to keep out of trouble during the opening lap mania. Bronze driver Hartshorne was next in the seat and continued to improve around the extremely technical track and pro Eastwood completed the race with a double stint and brought the #95 Vantage over the line in P16.
Following on from their heartbreaking bad luck in round three, the Oman Racing by TF Sport crew made an incredibly strong start in the Asian Le Mans Series finale. Youngster Canning and super-Am, Al Harthy, fought their way up to the lead of the GT class before handing over to Adam for a double-stint to the finish. Once all mandatory stops had been completed across the field, it was an intensely close battle to the flag and Adam brought the #97 Vantage over the line in P4.
TF Sport debutants Hartshorne and Hancock, recorded their best finish of the championship. Alongside Eastwood, the #95 GT3 took sixth position in the last race of the compact series. It was a steep learning curve for Am-driver John, but he made vast improvements throughout the two weeks, in preparation for his European Le Mans Series programme.
The TF crew now turn their attention to the first round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship in Portimão, April 4.
Tom Ferrier, Team Manager - “We knew it was going to be a challenge, but the grid was the closest we had ever seen it! Despite Ahmad driving the best he ever has, in the end it came down to bad luck for the Oman Racing crew, as a penalty and getting caught up in someone else’s accident cost them a shot a the Le Mans Entry. John made some massive improvements throughout the last two weeks and that is exactly what we set out to do for him.”
Ollie Hancock, #95 - “Racing with TF in the Asian Le Mans Series was a real delight. It’s great to be back with familiar faces and friends from the past, but also to be racing an Aston Martin. Using the series as a training ground for our up coming season in ELMS, it proved hugely competitive, with some of the best GT drivers in the world and some mega racing. Team mate John made significant steps forward, in terms of pace but also traffic management, we hope to hit the ground running when we get to Barcelona in April in the GTE car. We can’t wait to get the European season started with TF!”
Jonny Adam, #97 - “It was nice to end the final race with a solid top four result in Asian Le Mans. Overall we had just bad luck in three of the four races and if they had gone to plan, I think a top three in the championship would have been possible for the #97 Oman Racing team. Ahmad and Tom showed great speed over the four races in some of the best Pro Am competition I have seen in GT racing. Massive thank you to everyone at TF Sport, for yet again providing us all with a fast and reliable Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and to Asian Le Mans Series for making this championship come together in difficult times.”