TF Sport battle to second position at ELMS Paul Ricard
TF Sport faced a tough challenge this weekend as the European Le Mans Series visited Paul Ricard for the fourth round of the championship (25-27 August, 2017). Despite one or two minor setbacks, the team performed flawlessly and departed from the south of France with an extended nine-point championship lead and the runner-up LMGTE position.
The race weekend got off to a good start with the team topping the first free practice session with Nicki Thiim completing simulated qualifying runs. When it counted though the team was left somewhat disappointed with fifth position on the grid. However, race day dawned hotter than ever and with tyre wear a factor at Paul Ricard, the team was confident they could make a move towards the front.
Salih Yoluc started the race but was almost immediately in trouble as a rival LMP2 car made contact with the #90 Aston Martin, spinning Yoluc around and dropping him some distance to the back of the field. Frustrated, Yoluc battled on and closed down the deficit to those ahead.
Euan Hankey took over for the second stint and despite damage to the front end of the car, made inroads on those ahead, pitting and handing over to Thiim. Thiim was quickly up to speed, passing the Beechdean Aston Martin for third position and then set about closing the gap to the car ahead. Hankey took over for the final run to the flag and made short work of passing the #69 entry with an aggressive pass into the chicane.
With 30 minutes remaining, it was just a case of bringing the car home in a fine second position and in doing so, extending the championship lead with just two rounds left.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“That was another very tough race. We seem to be having quite a few of those recently but again we worked well and hard as a team and we got a good result from the weekend. Salih, Euan and Nicki all drove well again and the team are really working well to get the best from the package we can run.”
Salih Yoluc, driver #90 B
"It was a difficult stint for me as I got turned around by an LMP2 car at turn five – the same place as (a similar situation) in the Blancpain race here, so that was frustrating and really compromised my stint. The guys did a good job after that and I’m delighted we finished ahead of the #66 car as we take some points from them in the championship. It’s not the result we wanted but it’s still good for the championship points."
Euan Hankey, driver #90 S
“The car had some front-end damage which I didn’t know about in my first stint and I got stuck behind an LMP3 car and I destroyed the front tyres. In the second stint, I could manage my tyre wear so much better, I didn’t get stuck behind anyone other than the battle with the #66 car and when I had the opportunity I just went for it! Good job.”
Nicki Thiim, driver #90 P
“It was a nice comeback I must say. Salih had some problems but that’s how it is in multi-class racing, that’s why we love it. We then lost half a minute in the first yellow and from there it was just catching up. Euan did a good stint and got us up to P3 and then again in the last stint to get us P2. We had a really hard broken lady in the Aston, missing all of the dive planes which wasn’t ideal as the GT cars use a lot of aero. P2 was really good and we extend the championship lead. The next one at Spa will be even tougher and I hope there will be some changes (Balance of Performance) there.”