TF SPORT CLAIMS DOMINANT VICTORY AT THE FIA WEC SIX HOURS OF BAHRAIN
TF Sport’s #33 Aston Martin Vantage entry of Ben Keating, Dylan Pereira and Felipe Fraga stormed to a long-awaited GTE AM win, at the penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Bapco 6 Hours of Bahrain.
After claiming two second-place finishes, at the season opener in Spa and the WEC’s blue ribband event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the crew were hungry at take top-step honours.
Starting mid-pack, in sixth, after a tricky qualifying session, the #33 bronze driver Keating wasted no time in picking off the competition and over his two one-hour stints, climbed to the class lead.
After handing over to silver-graded Pereira, bad luck struck when a full course yellow period was called, giving an advantage to the Aston’s competitors and the #33 GTE fell to P3. However, it didn’t take long for Pereira to reclaim first in class and from there, he began to build a gap before the end of his run.
Fraga took the wheel for the final two hours, but it was by no-means easy, as his Porsche rivals found phenomenal pace towards the closing stages.
Nevertheless, Brazilian Fraga held his ground and crossed the line to take the win with a 5.5 second lead. This victory was not only the first for an Aston Martin in the 2021 season, but also saw Dylan Pereira become the first ever Luxembourgish driver to claim victory in the WEC.
TF Sport’s #33 entry remains second in the GTE AM Championship, but the points gap has reduced to 21.5 behind the #83 AF Corse Ferrari. With 39 points up for grabs next week, it’s all to play for at the last race of the season.
It was a tough battle for the D’station Racing crew. Despite the #777 Vantage getting into the lead of the race at the hands of Tomonobu Fujii, various issues including a drive-through penalty for a full course yellow infringement and a stop in the box for damage repairs, Fujii alongside Satoshi Hoshino and Andrew Watson maximised their potential, but had to settle for P11. The Japanese entry showed great pace and will be back next week to fight for a better result.
The FIA World Endurance Championship finale, the Bapco 8 Hours of Bahrain, takes place on November 6.
Tom Ferrier, Team Owner - “Great come back and effort by the #33 car after qualifying, we always knew we had some more pace in the car. Brilliant two stints by Ben, unfortunately lucking out by missing being able to take advantage of the first full course yellow period, which probably lost us 35 seconds. But, because he had done so well, he’d keep us in the game. As always, excellent driving by Dylan and Felipe. The Porsche was worryingly fast at the end, but we just had enough in the bag, so we’re back in the Championship fight. Little bit of homework to do in the next few days before the next one!”
Ben Keating , Bronze Driver - “Excited to have the win! For me personally, I felt much more comfortable in the car today, than I did in free practice and qualifying and I felt like my speed would be good over the two stints. We knew we had a good race car over the long-haul! I was able to keep the lead during my second stint which was a lot of fun! Dylan and Felipe did a great job in the car. We got a little bit unlucky with the first full course yellow, but then we got lucky, versus the #83 car, during Dylan’s stint. I don’t know how the Porsches found their pace, man they were quick. Strategy will come into it a lot more during the eight-hour race, as it’ll be a totally different situation with the minimum driver times. Dylan and I just need to make sure we build up a big gap for Felipe, to have a chance against those Porsches. I think it’s time for TF Sport to have the luck this year!"
Dylan Pereira, Silver Driver - “Ben wasn’t very happy with qualifying, but we knew our race pace would be quite good. He did a great job at the beginning and put us right up front. Unfortunately we lost a few positions due to the full course yellow being called shortly after I got in the car, so I knew I had to push hard, but try to save the tyres whilst being as fast as I could. After my second stint, we were leading again, so I pushed for a gap to make Felipe’s life a little easier. Felipe’s final stint was really good, especially with the pace of the Porsches and he made no mistakes to bring home the win.”
Felipe Fraga, Gold Driver - “The whole year we’ve been really close to a race win, we’ve always had the pace, so I’m really happy that today we managed to take the victory. The aim for this week was to try and take away some of the #83 Ferrari’s advantage and to still be alive for the championship, so we now need to focus on getting the car a little quicker. The Porsches were really fast towards the end of the race, but we still managed to come out on top. Next week the race is an extra two hours, but I’m really confident, we just need to focus on us and hope for a little bit of luck! For sure we will be fighting for the win!”