TF Sport secure third place in debut FIA World Endurance Championship season
TF Sport rounded out a successful debut FIA World Endurance Championship campaign with a well-fought battle in the 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE AM class to finish the year in third place.
A 12th place finish for the team in class was also enough to see Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood take third spot in the GTE Am Drivers FIA Endurance Trophy. Euan Hankey and Jonny Adam rotated throughout the season leaving them just outside of the top ten.
The famous race started with much promise for the Aston Martin team, who were sporting the older Vantage GTE for the final time. After a measured approach to qualifying the team lined up 12th in class but were soon pushing up the field with the car in the hands of Charlie. An excellent double stint propelled the team up to fifth in class, before the first handover to Euan, who continued the momentum to keep the Aston in the hunt running up to fourth.
Salih took over to complete the first cycle of the drivers through the car, with light rain and the setting sun decorating the French circuit. The Turkish driver put in an excellent stint before his first run came to an end.
Euan and Charlie took the car into the early hours, with Charlie pushing hard and bringing the car up into second position, where the team ran strongly until 5am. An off for Euan at Mulsanne saw the car stuck in the gravel, dropping them down the field into sixth.
Undeterred, the team switched strategy and by the end of his stint, Euan had recovered the Vantage back up to third.
Salih returned to the wheel and later encountered the team’s only major problem of the race. Reporting difficulties with the steering, he pitted early where the team were swiftly able to replace the power-steering pump in less than 20 minutes. Seven laps were unfortunately lost, and the race to the flag then became damage limitation to bring the car home to secure enough points to claim third place in the GTE Am championship.
At the flag, the team were 11th overall in class, but crossed the line as the highest placed Aston Martin, beating the two GTE Pro entries in the process. Despite the issues, the team proudly finished their debut World Endurance Championship campaign, in third place.
*subject to FIA World Endurance Championship official confirmation
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“We’re really happy to have finished third in our first season of WEC, though it wasn’t the ideal race for us. It was running perfect and everyone had done a wonderful job, but in the wonders of Le Mans, sometimes it strikes and other times it doesn’t. It unfortunately struck for us in a couple of ways during the night, which is a big shame because everyone had done a brilliant job. It’s hard to recover when you’re seven laps down. To end up with third at the end of the Super Season is great, now we're really looking forward to next year.”
“Obviously, we could have had a better result as we were in a good spot during the night, but there’s a reason people do it year on year and it doesn’t go their way, because it is so difficult. My stints felt good. The car felt mega from start to finish. The stints always feel a lot shorter when the balance is so perfect. I must give a big credit to TF because we don’t have the newest car or the most-developed car on the grid, but we absolutely maximised what we could get from it. Which to be honest, in these situations that’s all you can do. To start the race was very special and to finish it, doing the last ever lap of the Vantage V8 GTE was amazing. I’m really happy for the team, to be in this position in our first WEC season is an incredible effort.”