WEC PODIUM SUCCESS FOR TF SPORT AT SPA
TF Sport kicked off their World Endurance Championship campaign with a second place GTE Am class finish for the #33 Aston Martin Vantage, at the hands of Ben Keating, Dylan Pereira and Felipe Fraga, last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. D’station Racing’s #777 entry scored a strong seventh in their WEC debut, with Satoshi Hoshino, Andrew Watson and Tomonobu Fujii.
Due to the global situation, a change in race dates saw the Prologue move to the start of the race week at Spa-Francorchamps. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the start to the season that the team had hoped. A mistake by Keating and a puncture for Hoshino saw both Bronze drivers have substantial incidents, in the same place at Eau Rouge, within the first test session.
Thankfully both drivers were unharmed, and the crew wasted in no time in beginning to rebuild the #777 Vantage. As Keating’s machine was beyond repair, TF’s European Le Mans Series GTE chassis was driven over from the team’s UK base and adjustments were made to switch the #33 to WEC eligibility.
Less than 24 hours after the incidents, both entries were back on track for day two of the Prologue, with #33 soon sitting at the top of the timesheets. An incredible accomplishment by the TF crew.
The qualifying structure has changed for WEC’s Season 9 and it is now solely the Bronze driver’s responsibility to set the grid spot for each race. The session was marred by red flags, leaving Keating and Hoshino time for just two flying laps. Texan man Keating claimed pole position with an incredibly impressive lap and scored the team’s first point of the year. After having laps deleted for track limit infringements, D’station Racing’s entry would line up P11.
A stellar race start by Keating saw #33 jump ahead of the Pro class Corvette and begin to create a gap to the Am class behind, and held the class lead for the majority of the first hour. Gold-driver Fujii wasted no time in charging #777 through the order, taking the Japanese entry’s Vantage from the last row of the grid, to P2 within his opening stint.
Towards the end of the first hour, Keating became the innocent victim in an LMP2 battle when Dragon Speed’s Montoya drove G-Drive’s prototype into Ben, pushing him onto the grass. Some impressive car control by Keating meant #33 stayed pointing in the right direction and lost as little time as possible.
D’station Racing’s trio battled hard in their WEC debut. Between Hoshino, Fujii and Watson, #777 ran as high as second and a trouble-free race saw the crew take the flag in seventh, scoring valuable points at the season opener.
An unfortunately timed full course yellow period was the second strike of bad luck for TF Sport’s Vantage, meaning the class leader gained an advantage during a pit stop. Despite Pereira and Fraga’s best efforts, they were denied the chance to fight for the win and Fraga brought #33 over the line in second place.
The second round of the 2021 World Endurance Series takes place at Portimão, Portugal on June 13.
Tom Ferrier, Team Owner - “The week went from one extreme to the other! A huge well done to the crew for getting both cars out for the second day of the Prologue, similar to their efforts at the 24 Hours of Spa back in 2019. It was a very positive start to the season with #33’s pole and podium position and D’station had a successful championship debut. We’re set for a strong year with both entries.”
Ben Keating, #33 Bronze - “Our first event with TF has been incredible! Not without it’s challenges, but it was really something special to see what the team are made of! I was very excited to be on the pole position and to be the first Am team to score points this season. Second place is a great performance by the drivers and the team, and I’m really looking forward to Portimão!”
Tomonobu Fujii, #777 Gold - “Although we started in last place, we were able to complete the six-hour race without any mistakes or car issues. We all gained a lot of valuable experience in our stints and we are very thankful for the team for such an awesome job.”