TF Fan files: Spa 24 h (part 1)

PUBLISHED 11/08/2017

We welcomed AMR fans extraordinaire Sarah and Martyn to our garage during the Total Spa 24H. Read all about their amazing experience with the team as we wrapped up the Blancpain Endurance Cup and her thoughts on the ever-impressive Spa Francorchamps circuit.

Aston Martin Racing and TF Sport

We are just two passionate motorsport fans, we have followed AMR for many years & just love their passion for racing. 

TF Sport has been a huge part of GT racing. We have always admired TF Sports eye-catching liveries. They have always made fans feel very welcome. The team’s driver line ups have always been very impressive & they have nurtured talented drives & helped them further their careers.

My favourite memory with TF Sport comes from the BGT final at Donington last year, where Derek & Jonny had just won the GT3 Championship Title! Martyn & I were waiting in the paddock near the steps which led to the podium for Jonny & Derek to return. We were chatting to a friend whilst taking photos of Jonny with his trophy when Derek suddenly spotted me in the crowd & shouted to me to go over to him. I was totally surprised by this & even more so when Derek insisted that I went over to him so I could have a photo taken with him, whilst I held his British GT GT3 Championship trophy!! Derek also made sure that Martyn came over so he could take photos of us!

A race in Spa

Martyn & I try to attend as many races as possible.  We always like to attend the first round of the British GT held at Oulton Park, as it is our local circuit. This year we all were at Silverstone for the opening round of WEC, Martyn & I were cheering for TF Sport in the ELMS & were delighted when you won the race!

We planned the Road Trip to Spa ourselves & booked the tickets. With Martyn not ever driven abroad before we drove through the night as there would be less traffic and less distraction.

We arrived at the hotel early Wednesday morning in time for a quick nap & then freshen up before going down to the Parade.

We could hear the noise of the circuit as we approached it for the very first time on Thursday morning. Martyn & I were very grateful to our friend Betty, who very kindly drove us to the circuit & back on the first couple of days. We knew that the circuit was on different levels but it was good to see it in person. I have to admit I cried when I first glimpsed in the distance Eau Rouge for the first time. I think it was the realisation that Martyn & I were finally at the circuit after all the months of planning the trip!

The parade

What a fantastic atmosphere at the Driver’s Parade which is held on the streets of Spa town. Seeing is believing – the streets echo & vibrate with the sounds of the GT cars as they roar making their way into the square. The pavements are full of fans poised with their cameras & phones ... some recorded the cars as they roared past. There is a great party atmosphere with music playing, bars dotted about in the streets. Drivers are interviewed on the stage in front of the crowds whilst the cars are parked up along the streets. The driver’s Parade gives everybody there the chance to take photos of their favourite cars, drivers and the chance to chat with them & get their signatures.

Martyn & I met up with two other very good friends during the Parade and we kept bumping into them as we wandered round. We spent a bit of time chatting to the TF Sport drivers & admired #97 as she basked in the sun, with her golden detailing glinting. We sadly were not able to see the cars drive back to the circuit but we certainly heard them!! Once again, the buildings vibrated with the roar of the engines.

Close to the action

During the weekend, we divided our time between walking round the circuit, watching the race from various locations & spending time with the team in the garage.  We wanted to take in as much of the race as possible, photograph from different parts of the circuit & observe how a team works during a race weekend in the garage – both prepping the car & working on set up/data at “mission control”.

Martyn & I popped into the garage during FP on Thursday, to speak to the team & confirm with them that we would be taking photos when the opportunity arose, so they could be posted on social media. Everyone was very encouraging, Jonny was really chuffed that we had been offered this great opportunity to share TF Sport’s race weekend with fellow fans. We photographed the driver change when Euan Hankey pitted & Salih Yoluc jumped into the driver’s seat – every team member knew exactly where to stand & where to work from and it ran like clockwork.

We watched Qualifying/Night Qualifying from the Pit Bar terrace and overlooking the Teams garage – as they were good vantage spots (if you will pardon the pun!) We got a different perspective of a pit stop whilst watching it from above. As night fell, we found it easier for our cameras to focus on the cars in the pit lane under the brighter lights. Seeing the cars for the first time out on track in the dark, was very magical.

Martyn & I were over the moon when Jonny Adam claimed Pro- Am Pole which was #P6 overall – putting him in a very good position for Friday evening’s Super Pole. We thought we would watch Super Pole from above the pit lane entry – being on the Pit Bar Terrace offered us a great view of the circuit. 

Behind the scenes

One of the highlights of the race weekends for us is the pit walk and driver’s autograph session. We photographed the teams table all set up with the posters & drivers cards waiting to be besieged by eager fans. I took some photos of the team signing & chatting to fans. We had to call Jonny away from polishing the car so he could take his seat at the table by his team mates!

The Grid Walk was quite different from the ones we are used to attending at Silverstone. It took a quite a while for the cars to get in position. The Grid is very narrow making a physical job for the team to get the car into position, pushing & pulling the car up a steep incline. 

Part 2 can be found here.