PODIUM HONOURS AT HUNGARORING FOR TF SPORT’S GT OPEN RETURN
TF Sport, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood scored a third place overall at the first round of the 2020 International GT Open season, at the Hungaroring last weekend. The TF crew and Yoluc made their return to the championship, bringing back the #34, mirroring their striking red WEC livery on the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in the PRO class and this time, enlisting the expertise of Pro driver, Charlie Eastwood from their multiple race-winning WEC roster.
Being the only Aston Martin in the 18-strong grid, it was tricky to preempt where they would fare amongst their competitors, so the crew took full advantage of the three free practice sessions, leading up to qualifying, to get both driver’s familiar with the new Vantage GT3 on the new Michelin tyre. A huge boost of confidence came in the second session, when the #34 topped the time sheets with a very impressive lap from GT Open debutant, Charlie Eastwood.
The format of GT Open sees each driver complete an individual qualifying session, which in turn, determines which race they start. An impressive lap by Salih saw him 0.4s shy of the second place Pro in his class, but with the competition being ultra close throughout the grid, Yoluc had to settle for P10 overall. The Turkish driver made a very impressive start to the Hungarian opener, however, this unfortunately went unrewarded as Yoluc had to run wide at turn one to avoid an accident up front. Salih then did a great job to fight back to P8, around a circuit that is well known for being challenging to overtake on, and was lapping quicker than many rivals ahead, before handing over to Charlie. Eastwood wasted no time in making his way up the order, but with two safety car periods in quick succession, towards the closing stages of the race, Charlie's progress was halted and he brought the #34 Vantage over the line in P3 in class and sixth overall.
A very close second qualifying session saw Charlie set a time good enough for P5, a mere 0.24s from the pole sitter. The Northern Irishman impressed in his debut GT Open race start, as he dived down the inside of the #47 Mercedes at turn one to claim fourth position. For the remainder of his stint, Eastwood did a superb job in fending off the pack behind, whilst closing the gap to the #17 Ferrari in third. The #34 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 was brought into the pits in P4, to hand over to Salih. A super slick stop by the TF crew meant Yoluc rejoined the race in second position. It was here Yoluc stayed until a last lap lunge from the #11 Mercedes saw Salih take rapid action to avoid contact, subsequently slipping down to third. An excellent result and a strong start to the team's 2020 GT Open campaign.
TF Sport, Yoluc and Eastwood leave Hungaroring fifth in both the driver's and team's championship standings.
Paul Ricard hosts round two of the International GT Open on August 22-23
Tom Ferrier - Team Owner - “It was a good first weekend back in the International GT Open. We went to Hungary with an open mind, being the only Aston Martin on the grid and learning the set up on the new tyre, we utilised each session and learnt a lot that we can carry with us throughout the remainder of the season. Luck wasn’t on our side in the first race, with Salih having to take the long way round to avoid the accident at turn one, and the multiple safety cars, the chance of a better result was lost. We maximised the result in the second race and it was great to have Salih and Charlie back on the podium.”
Charlie Eastwood #34 PRO - “All in all a good weekend. It was great to get everything together for the second race and it was a learning experience for us all. It was the first time for us in the new GT3 on this Michelin tyre and we learnt a lot over Friday and Saturday. We had a really good first round when we knew Hungaroring was going to be one of the more challenging races for us. Now looking forward to heading to Paul Ricard, where we should hopefully be a lot stronger!”