MONZA PODIUM KEEPS TF SPORT WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL GT OPEN TITLE FIGHT
An impressive charge to the second step of the podium was the highlight of TF Sport’s weekend at Monza, as avoidable contact from a competitor in the second race heavily reduced the crew’s point-scoring potential. Round four of the International GT Open proved to be the team’s most challenging yet, however, the 2020 championship honours are still well within their reach.
Coming off the back of their 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and the TF Sport crew were hungry for more success. However, it became apparent early on in the weekend that the long straights of Monza were much more suited to the Aston Martin GT3’s rivals. All the #34 team could do, was to focus on maximising the potential of their Vantage.
Salih took the first of the weekend’s qualifying sessions and managed to claim P6, behind a cohort of McLarens. A great race start by the Turk and despite slight contact, which dropped him down to seventh as the GT Open field navigated their way though to Rettifilo chicane on the opening lap, Yoluc made his Vantage as wide as possible throughout his stint to hold position until the stop.
A 15-second handicap had to be served for winning the previous race at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, yet Eastwood still managed to return to the track in seventh, and wasted no time in working his way up the order. With less than 15 minutes remaining, some rather impressive manoeuvres saw the TF pro pass rivals #17, #7 and #57 in just a few corners, including a hero move around the outside at Parabolica. It was a drag race to the line with the #72 McLaren and despite Charlie finishing P3 on the road, 0.013s behind the Optimum machine, Nick Moss was handed a post-race penalty which promoted #34 to second place.
Eastwood’s qualifying session was a close contest for the top two rows and he fought to place the TF Vantage in P4, a mere 0.001s behind third position. Once again, a clean start was made and with the 25-second handicap in mind, Charlie gave it his all to work his way forward. Unfortunately, the performance of the #26 Bentley down the straights just couldn’t be matched and fourth was where Eastwood stayed until it was time to hand over to Salih.
Yoluc rejoined the race in sixth position, post-success penalty, and was doing well to fend off the pack behind. Unfortunately, hard contact from the #57 Teo Martin Motorsport McLaren in the latter half of the race, turned Salih around and dropped the TF Aston down the order. #57 was handed a drive through penalty for the incident and Salih took the flag in tenth place.
Minimal points awarded means #34 has remained third in the championship standings, 15 points behind championship leaders Chaves/Ramos in the #59 Teo Martin Motorsport McLaren.
The penultimate round of the International GT Open takes place at Spa-Francorchamps on 17-18 October.
Tom Ferrier, Team Owner - “It is disappointing to come away from a weekend knowing we could have scored more points, however it was completely out of our hands and that is just the way racing goes sometimes. You can’t win them all, no matter how hard we try! We shouldn’t let the frustration of race two overshadow the great podium result. It’s tough to overcome any handicap, and a second place finish was more that we’d hoped for, so that was good for our points haul. Hopefully we can get back to our winning ways at Spa!”
Charlie Eastwood, #34 - “Overall, it was a fairly difficult weekend for the whole team. Race one was really good, coming from seventh to second in my stint and with a lot of close battles throughout! It was more than we could've asked for considering we had to serve a success penalty in the stop. We were looking for a good result in qualifying on Sunday, but I ended up P4. It was very close between second, third and fourth, only 0.04s between us, but unfortunately I was on the wrong side of that 0.04s! Because of the success penalty, 25 seconds was going to be hard to overcome in the second race, and then Salih was spun round early on in his stint. Fingers crossed Spa goes well, as the Aston is usually strong around there!”