TF Sport battles to double six at Spa as International GT Open goes south to Paul Ricard
Battling performances in Round 2 of the 2016 International GT Open at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (21-22 May) saw TF Sport achieve a brace of sixth place finishes, but the team hopes for more going into the next instalment at Circuit Paul Ricard (4-5 June).
An inter-round shift in the GT Open’s Balance of Performance (BoP) placed the TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage on the back foot in qualifying, but solid stints by both Euan Hankey and Salih Yoluc the first of two races saw them climb as high as fourth.
Sadly, their charge stalled when an unprecedented suspension issue developed with approximately eight laps remaining, understeer causing a loss in pace and resigning TF Sport to an unrepresentative sixth place result.
The team hoped for better in race two, but Spa, which is perched in Belgium's beautiful Ardennes Forest, is renowned for its wild weather and a heavy downpour saturated the circuit just prior to the start on Sunday (22 May) afternoon.
The rapidly deteriorating conditions prompted officials to commence the hour-long race behind the Safety Car and it was some 20 minutes before the field was set loose.
The delay ultimately prevented TF Sport from maximising a strategy that went against the grain. The plan was to utilise Hankey’s supreme speed to build a healthy advantage over his Am counterparts in the opening stint, but the British Pro was shackled by the Safety Car and the lead he held at the stops wasn;t sufficient for Yoluc to maintain.
Having clocked up very few wet miles in the Aston Martin, Yoluc was powerless to defend against far more experienced drivers and tentatively circulated the sopping Spa circuit to once again take the chequered flag in sixth.
TF Sport Director, Tom Ferrier, said: “A pair of sixth places is probably as much as we could have expected. Qualifying was average because we were a bit disadvantaged with the Balance of Performance, and we would have finished fourth in race one, had it not been for the strange and unprecedented suspension issue. Spending 20 minutes behind the Safety Car really didn’t help our cause in race two and, with hindsight it would have been better to start Salih (Yoluc) and run Euan (Hankey) in the final stint.”
The International GT Open picks up at Circuit Paul Ricard (4-5 June), which sits on France’s Mediterranean coast in Le Castellet, and there’s hope that a clean, problem-free weekend will yield results that are truly representative of TF Sport’s speed and ability.
Ferrier said: “I don’t think the results we achieved at Spa are representative of our pace, the team’s ability and our setup. It was more down to circumstance and that’s why I’m pleased with the outcome and confident moving forwards to the next round at Circuit Paul Ricard.”