No longer the bridesmaid, TF Sport today (Sunday October 6, 2019) recorded their first win since joining the FIA World Endurance Championship last season. A dominant display in the second round of the championship at Fuji Speedway in Japan saw the team finish a lap ahead of their LMGTE Am rivals to claim a memorable and long overdue first victory.
After a strong showing at Silverstone that ultimately yielded little, and multiple runner-up positions throughout their debut season, todays’ result had been long expected by the team and drivers Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam. Ultimately, it was a dominant display from the British-based squad, very much riding the summer momentum following championship success in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and the British GT Championship.
As a portent of things to come, TF Sport topped the timesheets throughout practice in the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE and come qualifying, Salih and Jonny took the pole position – the team’s third on the trot – with a lap two-tenth clear of the class rivals.
Having claimed the Blancpain title the week before in Barcelona, Salih entered the weekend carrying that momentum of success. The race started dry before some light drizzle began to fall, but the Turkish racer made a great getaway from the rolling start before the inevitable lap one Safety Car was deployed.
Another excellent start in lap five saw Salih pull a two-second margin on the restart and so the race began as he continued to pull out the margin at the head of the field. The first stop came at the one-hour mark with the margin up to 22-seconds, with Salih opting to double-stint and resuming in sixth position.
As the stops shook out, and after a brief battle with the #57 Project One car, Salih returned to the head of the field before pitting on lap 65 with his mandatory drive time complete. Charlie took up the battle against the Porsche with rain in the air before pitting at the three-hour mark.
The race played out with Charlie leading from the front before a full course yellow saw others gain a strategic advantage. Ultimately however, the team were able to neutralise this at the second FCY, before handing over to Jonny for the final double-stint. From this point, it was a case of bringing the car home and with an initial gap of 60-seconds over the #83 AF Corse, this is exactly what the newly crowned British GT Championship winning driver did.
The team now begin preparations for the forthcoming third round of the championship next month in Shanghai.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“I am both happy and relieved, it has been a long time coming after all of the second places and pole positions – today it went perfectly. Salih did an amazing job at the start of the race and the team were flawless in the pitstops. It was a close at one point when a couple of our rivals gained the advantage under full course yellows and we couldn’t stop at that point, but it all worked out and we brought it home for our first WEC win.”
“The first WEC win feels pretty good! My stint was good and the car felt great, very easy to drive, so for me I was able to pull out the gap so that my teammates could be in a good position to manage the race afterwards, a great result.”
“It’s been a long time coming and we have been so close, but it’s great to get the win today. The team did an excellent job with perfect pit stops and my teammates drove extremely well. All of the hard work in terms of setting the car up for the race has certainly paid off. We’re right back in the championship hunt and now we have the momentum heading to the next race in Shanghai.”
“The first win in WEC is an amazing feeling, specially having come so close before. A few things have always seemed to knock us off the top step, so it has been a long time coming! We got pole, Salih did a mega job at the start of the race and then really for me and Jonny it was about managing the advantage. The team did everything perfectly and the car was as perfect I have ever felt during a two-hour stint and that’s what you need to win at the World Championship level.”