TF SPORT CLAIM VICTORY AND TRIPLE PODIUM AT THE DELAYED BRITISH GT OULTON PARK OPENER
TF Sport took home three out of a potential four podium positions last weekend, during the revised first round of the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Oulton Park. The early season success for the two Aston Martin Vantage GT4s came in the form of a lights to flag victory for the #95 crew of Patrick Kibble and Connor O’Brien, and a double podium result for TF debutants, Jamie Caroline and Dan Vaughan, in the #97. This impressive points haul has placed TF Sport at the top of the GT4 Teams’ standings and joint first (#97) and third (#95) in the Drivers’ rankings.
Despite not being able to commence pre-season testing until June, topping the timesheets in the first free practice session made it evident just how hard the team had worked in preparing for the year, in such a short timeframe. This was carried across to qualifying where the sister cars were placed in the top four for both races, including a pole position for Connor O’Brien.
O’Brien’s first ever start from pole left quite the impression! The youngster pulled a flawless move down the inside of the #55 Lamborghini GT3 at Cascades and from there he began to increase the gap to the rest of the GT4 pack behind. Regardless of the GT3 traffic, O’Brien pulled a 10.6 second lead to the trailing #23 Supra GT4 in P2, before handing over to Kibble at the halfway mark. Kibble held position for the remainder of the race to bring #95 across the line to victory.
Dan Vaughan took his debut British GT rolling start from P4 and despite getting bogged down slightly at the lights, he made a great move on the #61 Mustang down the inside at Island Bend to reclaim fourth position. A slick pit stop from the #97 crew saw Caroline rejoin the circuit to hunt down a podium finish. The single-seater ace is no rookie when it comes to gaining track position and did an immense job in applying enough pressure on the Mustang, forcing Cowley to make a mistake and spin off track unaided at Cascades, promoting the #97 to third place.
A switch of starting driver for race two saw Caroline make short work of pole sitter Hankey, as he took the #97 into the race lead before turn three. It was here he remained until boxing for the stop, where the car had to serve an extra 5 seconds in the pits as a penalty for finishing third in the first race of the day. Unfortunately for Dan Vaughan, the safety car was called before he rejoined the circuit in P2, and stayed out for over 20 minutes until the flag, denying him the chance to race for an almost certain win.
The safety car was a result of contact between O’Brien and the #66 GT3 Bentley of Nick Jones at Denton’s, which ended up with a three-wheeled #95 beached in the gravel. This meant that Kibble’s efforts to bolster the Vantage to third, as he got got the jump on Collard in the #58 HHC McLaren at the lights, were left unrewarded and the #95 crew were frustratingly dealt a non-point scoring finish.
Next Intelligent Money British GT Championship round - 15-16 August, Donington Park
Tom Ferrier - Team Owner - “This weekend has felt generally very positive and encouraging! We were strong from the word go, it was just a shame that the second race ended in the way it did, as we were certainly on for a 1-2 finish had it stayed green, so I’m gutted for Connor and Patrick. Jamie drove a blinder and without a doubt, Dan would have held on to win the race.”
Connor O’Brien #95 - “There was a lot of hard work getting prepared for Oulton, so I felt pretty confident coming into the weekend. Qualifying was mega! I managed to get my sectors hooked together to take my first ever pole. Really pleased with my race one start, managed to get past a GT3 Lamborghini and then pull a gap from the rest of the GT4 pack. I boxed with a very comfortable lead to hand over to Patrick.”
Patrick Kibble #95 - “I was disappointed in my qualifying performance, as I didn’t get the most out of my tyres. But I came into Sunday with a fresh head and I don’t think the first race could have gone any better! Amazing job by Connor, which gave me the easy job of maintaining the lead and increasing the gap without any pressure from behind. So happy to get my first win in British GT! I felt in a good place with my driving towards the end of last season, so I was thrilled to get the win on my first race back. I managed to jump Collard at the lights for race two and then was chasing down Hankey throughout my stint. Looking forward to Donington and we’ll be aiming for another win!”
Jamie Caroline #97 - “We had a strong qualifying session, which could have been pole if I’d hooked my sectors together! Nice comfortable podium in race one but struggled with traffic, otherwise I think we could have finished P2. Real shame about the safety car in race two. I was around the outside of the pole sitter at turn one and then went down the inside at turn two, to lead my entire stint. Dan went back out in second after our success penalty in the stop, but wasn’t given the chance to race. Gutted to have the chance of a win taken away from us because of the prolonged safety car, but winning championships is all about points hauls and I feel we did a great job of that this weekend.”
Dan Vaughan #97 - “I missed the peak of the tyre in my qualifying session. It’s a new compound to me, so I just need to keep learning how to get the best out of it. The rolling start was also another first for me this weekend! Had a bit of a scrappy start to race one, but then got into a rhythm and managed to regain fourth position before Shell Oils Corner. GT3 traffic, yet another first time experience for me, marred my chances of making up any more places before boxing. Jamie did a great job at the start of race two, but unfortunately my entire stint was sat behind the safety car.”