LE CASTELLET VICTORY FOR RACING TEAM TURKEY AT ELMS SEASON OPENER
The highs and lows of motorsport truly hit the TF Sport crew at the 4 Hours of Le Castellet last weekend. The Racing Team Turkey LMP2 outfit took an impressive Pro Am victory at the first round of the 2022 European Le Mans Series and one of two Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTEs scored a solid top-six finish, but the second suffered race-ending damage on the opening lap.
Racing Team Turkey returned to the ELMS with the same striking livery, but a revised driver line-up for 2022, as regular pairing Salih Yoluç and Charlie Eastwood were joined by ELMS and LMP2 debutante Jack Aitken.
Following positive running during the Prologue and free practice, the crew were confident for a strong qualifying result. However, Aitken’s run was marred by a red flag during Saturday’s session.
After setting two purple sectors, Aitken approached the finish line to complete a lap with potential for pole position, when the session was brought to a halt due to a stationary car on track, leaving #34 to line up P4 overall and P2 in class.
A solid stint by Yoluç positioned the TF-run LMP2 well for his Pro teammates, Aitken and Eastwood, to take #34 further up the order. The #34 Turkish entry comfortably claimed the Pro Am victory by 38 seconds from their AF Corse rivals.
Despite starting on the front row, thanks to a great qualifying run by Ahmad Al Harthy, the #69 Oman Racing with TF Sport entry of Al Harthy, Sam De Haan and factory driver, Marco Sørensen, was denied a complete lap during the race. A superb start by De Haan saw their stealth-like Vantage take the lead of the LMGTE within the first few corners.
A last corner lunge by an LMP3 saw the prototype make heavy contact with the #69 Vantage, breaking the steering which left Sam stranded on track and heartbreakingly taken out of the race.
Hartshorne had made promising improvements throughout the prologue and free practice sessions. The gent racer started the 4 Hours of Le Castellet for the #95 Oman Racing with TF Sport crew and managed to stick to the back of the pack before handing over to teammate Chaves.
Superb stints by silver-graded Chaves, and factory driver Adam, saw the #95 Vantage up the class rankings to take the flag in P6, which marked Hartshorne’s best-ever GTE finish in ELMS.
The European Le Mans Series makes a return to Imola, for the second round of the 2022 season, on May 15.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director - “We certainly had some mixed fortune this weekend. It was great to have #34 back on the LMP2 podium and even fighting for an overall top-three, and there was also really positive progress from John in the Vantage GTE. Equally disappointed for Sam, Ahmad and Marco to not have their hard work throughout the week, rewarded in the race. We know they have the pace and they will now be fighting even harder for the rest of the season.”
Jack Aitken, #34 Racing Team Turkey Gold driver - “It’s been a really nice introduction to ELMS. We were looking really good in the middle of the race, a touch unlucky with the strategy, but very happy to win the Pro Am class. I loved the LMP2! Cutting through all the traffic was something new for me, as I’ve never raced with multiple classes on track, some really good racing!”
Ahmad Al Harthy, #69 Oman Racing with TF Sport Bronze driver - “We had a great start to the weekend at Paul Ricard. Saturday was qualifying and I managed a front row start in P2 0.154 seconds from P1. Sam started the race on Sunday and managed to take the car from P2 to P1 in the opening few corners, on the final corner of the first lap an LMP3 made a very hard contact damaging the steering arm which resulted in our race being over. Big thank you to everyone at Oman Racing by TF for all the amazing work this entire week. Looking forward to our next round at Imola.”
Jonny Adam, #95 Oman Racing with TF Sport Platinum driver - “It was great to move up the order over the four hours, with some good battles to finish P6. It was also the best ELMS GTE finish for John and solid points for our campaign. Great job by the TF Sport crew, as always, and now we focus on round two in Imola next month.”