Green shoots of recovery for TF Sport at British GT heads to Brands Hatch
A clean, unimpeded race still eludes TF Sport and there’s a keen desire to turn the tide in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship’s second consecutive points-and-a-half race on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (1-2 August).
There were green shoots of recovery for TF Sport in the sole British GT ‘flyaway’ race at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, deep in Belgium’s beautiful Ardennes forest.
Jody Fannin and Milton Keynes teammate, Andrew Jarman, have been unable to showcase their talents in what has so far been a character building season, but came out punching at Spa by threatening for the podium until a race-ending collision dashed TF Sport’s hopes of an unimpeded, uneventful run to the finish.
The sixth round of the 2015 British GT season will be staged on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, which is home territory for both TF Sport and Surrey-based racer, Fannin, who is one of only ten drivers to be selected for Aston Martin Racing’s Evolution Academy.
With race opportunities and test days strictly limited due to local noise constraints, prior experience of the fast, nine-turn 2.34mile former Formula 1 British Grand Prix venue can make a significant difference and Fannin says: “I’m really encouraged after Spa because we had good pace there. From my point of view, simply having time in the Aston Martin V12 Vantage has helped and I believe Andrew (Jarman) and I can have another strong run at Brands Hatch, which is my favourite UK circuit.
"I haven’t raced on the Grand Prix loop since 2012 when I won in the GT4 class. Circuit time counts for a lot there given that testing opportunities are few and far between, but everybody is in the same boat and I’m sure we’ll get up to speed quickly. I think the Aston Martin will be strong on the GP circuit where qualifying will be critical because overtaking is quite difficult - the target is to have a clean run to the chequered flag and to bring home as many points as possible.”
Spa’s points-and-a-half race yielded a seventh place result for Geordie duo, Derek Johnston and Matt Bell, the latter also a participant in AMR’s exclusive Evolution Academy programme, and there’s a buoyancy to the driver pairing as the championship returns to UK shores for a second consecutive two-hour points-and-a-half affair.
“We’re overdue some good fortune and Spa was certainly a much stronger showing,” said Bell. “TF Sport worked to its usual high-standards but, most importantly, Derek (Johnston) and I had podium worthy pace, which is encouraging going into Brands Hatch. My main aim is to do a better job in qualifying to take us out of the ‘carbon fibre zone’ and be at the sharp end come the pit stops, so we can take advantage of the success penalties imposed on some of the established leaders. I know we have all the ingredients to push for a podium and I have a lot of experience to draw on, having raced there every year since 2011 and coached at the circuit prior to that.”
TF Sport Director, Tom Ferrier, said: “More than anything, I want some good fortune to come our way before the end of the year and Spa was shaping up to be a turning point for TF Sport, with both Aston Martins in the top seven until the final throes of the race. Sadly, a smooth, uneventful race still eludes the team with four of nine races remaining, but there is an air of positivity following a post-Spa test day for Derek (Johnston) and Matt (Bell). We have seen significant improvements in Jody (Fannin) and Andrew (Jarman) in recent rounds and the fact they ran inside the top four at Spa validates my belief that they will be there or thereabouts when things start to go our way. We’re a happy camp with the potential to deliver strong results at Brands Hatch.”