Pace, promise but little reward for TF Sport at WEC Silverstone season opener
TF Sport have been busy gearing up for its second season in the FIA World Endurance Championship, heading to round one of the 19/20 season quietly confident and armed with the new #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
Unfortunately, the four-hour endurance race at Silverstone – the team’s home event – did not go as well as hoped with the team finishing in seventh position having dominated and claimed the pole in qualifying. While the result was disappointing, to finish less than a minute behind the class leader in the circumstances, was however encouraging.
With a successful test completed at Portimão where the drivers – Salih Yoluç, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam completed well over 1000km of testing, the team arrived at the ‘home of British motorsport’ confident that they had a good baseline setup with the new Vantage. Practice underlined this and qualifying saw Salih and Charlie make best use of the opportunity to claim the pole position by a margin of three tenths of a second.
Under sunny skies the eighth season of the FIA WEC got underway with Salih starting the race from the LMGTE Am pole, 21st overall. It was a clean start with the Turkish racer, immediately pulling a small margin over the #56 Team Project 1 entry before the inevitable first safety car was deployed.
Salih was soon back racing, but unable to shake off Egidio Perfetti and it soon became apparent that he was suffering with a braking issue, something which would hinder the three drivers throughout the race. Taking advantage of a Full Course Yellow at the 30-minute mark, Salih pitted for fuel, tyres and a brake inspection and resumed in sixth position, 20 seconds behind the #77 Porsche.
The issue remained intermittently in his second stint, but Salih was able to close the gap to the car in front and take the position at the one-hour mark. Next ahead was another Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche which he cleared as the #88 was forced to make his first stop.
Salih continued to make progress and was running third when as predicted the rains arrived 90 minutes into the race. It was ideal timing as Salih handed the #90 over to Charlie for the third stint. The second stop however did not go to plan with the #90 Vantage stationary for longer than planned as the team struggled with a refuelling issue.
Running sixth in especially slippery conditions, Charlie set about closing down the cars ahead before opting to pit and take slicks as the circuit dried.
A lengthy safety car followed with Charlie resuming in eighth. A worse was to come as the team – along with three others - were called in for a drive through penalty due to a Full Course Yellow infringement.
38-seconds behind the seventh-placed #62 Red River Sport entry Charlie completed his 85-minute stint, handing over to Jonny at the three-hour mark for the run to the chequered flag – catching and passing the #62 – to take P7.
The team is next out at Donington Park for the season finale of the British GT Championship where the aim is to claim both GT3 and GT4 title honours.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“In a way, it just wasn’t good enough as we had the fastest car and fastest drivers here and started from pole position and finished in seventh. In motorsport, if things go wrong, then things multiply and goes even further wrong. The brake problem was something technical on our side, so we need to look into that and then a fuel flow issue. At the Spa 24 everything went to clockwork, here not much did but that’s the way it is.
“The positive is that we’re really fast so it’s a shame as we should have driven into the distance and won this race. Onwards and upwards, but I feel for Salih as he drove really well.”
“It was a bit of a disappointing result given the speed we showed in qualifying. As a team we need to investigate the issue we had on the brake. We were unlucky with the Safety Car and we could have been on the pack and fighting for a top four in the final laps. There are massive positives in how the car has performed and we’ll aim high in Japan as we expect the car to be very strong around there.”
“A difficult race for us and it seemed that any problem that could hit us did. We all had really good pace and I had the fastest lap of the race, so I’m happy on that side. If you count back with what we had with the brake problem, drive through penalty and fuelling issue – then we’re only a minute behind the lead, so that makes it hard to take. We’re now going into the race with no penalties in terms of success ballast and we know we have plenty of speed in the car and drivers.”