TF Sport show winning pace again and take the British GT teams’ championship
TF Sport were on target for a dominant victory Sunday afternoon (23 September) as the British GT Championship made its end-of-season appearance at Donington Park. While the victory was taken away for alleged track limits infringements, second position was enough for the team to claim the teams’ championship for the second time in three seasons.
Round nine of the championship was significant in many ways. It marked a number of ‘lasts’ including the final race for the first-generation Aston Martin Vantage GT3 as well as the last race for 2016 champion Derek Johnston.
Mark Farmer and Derek lined up fifth and sixth on the grid, both determined to end the season on a high. Mark made a good start, fending off the advances of Derek at the first turn, and was soon pressuring Flick Haigh for position. He duly moved third just ahead of a safety car period on lap 16.
Derek was next to pass Haigh and set about passing the #69 Barwell entry. Sadly, his hopes of a fairy-tale finale were about to be dashed. The #1 Team Parker car out-braked himself and hit the back of Derek’s Aston Martin at the Melbourne Hairpin, which in turn pushed him into the Lamborghini ahead. With damage to the #17 Aston Martin, Derek was forced to pull off and retire the car less than a lap later with a gearbox failure.
This left Mark to carry the TF Sport flag in second position, 14-seconds behind the #33 Lamborghini. It was an impressive sting as he more than halved the deficit before pitting and handing over to teammate Nicki Thiim.
Following the additional ten seconds success penalty in the stop, Nicki emerged in second position, 15 seconds behind. It was another sensation run from the Dane as he caught and passed Phil Keen for the lead with a great pass exiting turn one on lap 58. Nicki extended the advantage and took the chequered flag only for an additional 30-second to be added to his race result, dropping him to second.
The team claim the championship with 249 points, 8.5 clear of their nearest rival and begin preparations for the 2019 season with the all-new GT3 and GT4 Aston Martin Vantage.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“It was a shame to lose it at the end like that as both Mark and Nicki drove so well. I’m also gutted for Derek as he was going so well and probably would have won the race if they hadn’t had that contact, but he enjoyed his final race. Mark was impressive and Nicki was out-of-this-world good
“The teams’ championship is great. I will be happy about that later when I’m not thinking about the race win. We knew the drivers’ championship would be a long shot, but another championship success is a good achievement for the team.”
“It became apparent early in the race that we had a lot of work to do as the pink Lambo (#69 Barwell) was doing a very good job of holding everyone up and allowing (teammate) Jon Minshaw to get away. There was a lot of scrapping behind and it was pretty obvious something bad was going to happen, so I bided my time and them got Derek and then Flick and then there was a safety car. Then I got De Hann pretty easily actually into Redgate and cleared off. I then closed the gap to Minshaw in the lead. Nicki then did an awesome job, reeled in 15-seconds on Keen. On Phil Keen… what’s that all about?
“So, we won on the track and then got the 30-second penalty. It shows how good we were to get that time penalty and still finish P2. We were gone. There’s the performance and then there’s the result. The performance was epic.”
“For me that will always stand as a P1, no matter what happens. It’s been such an amazing weekend and what a way to end the weekend. It’s been so much fun, a new challenge as a driver, working with a new teammate, new tracks, new series. I want to say thank you to the British fans, the whole team, Mark, and all the way down the paddock as they have all been so welcoming to us Aston drivers.
“It’s been an up and down season, but that’s the way it is in most championships. It would have been nice to end it on the top step – even though we won it – and send off the ‘old lady’ with an official win.”
“I enjoyed the start, I so-so tried to get the pass on Mark into turn one, but I just didn’t have the grip on the outside. He used my car to help him on the exit and maintain the position. We could have won this race and it’s sad that it ended this way.
“While it’s disappointing to be hit and taken out of the race, it was an emotional and sad day as it’s the final race. It was tough because of that.
“I woke up Monday and knew I had made the right decision to retire from racing. Sunday was very difficult and I could easily have been talked back into racing. But I’m very happy with the decision and it’s been a privilege to drive these GT3 cars and make the friends I have made.”