A flawless performance by British team TF Sport, saw them crowned GTE Am winners at the most iconic endurance race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, last weekend. Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam started the day-long battle in fifth position and took the flag to claim the win after a faultless, incident-free 24 hours.
Following a tough time at the previous WEC race at Spa Francorchamps, where the car struggled for overall race pace, the team completely stripped the #90 to a bare shell to diagnose the issue. Confident that all had been done to prepare for ‘the big one’, the crew were ready for the toughest week of their season.
Strong pace was shown early on from the #90 entry, and Eastwood set the second-fastest time in the GTE Am class during qualifying, to secure a spot in the first-ever Le Mans Hyperpole session. With 22 cars entered in class and only the top six going into the shootout, it was a tremendous achievement by the TF Pro to give the team the best possible start to the endurance race.
The team lined up P5 for the start of the 88th Edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Eastwood at the wheel. The Northern Irish youngster wasted no time in getting the Vantage to the sharp end and was up to P2 within the first few corners of the opening lap. Salih took to the wheel and drove faultlessly throughout, before handing back over to Charlie and Jonny, who split the night shifts between them.
A combination of impeccable driving by all three racers, and inch-perfect pitstops by the crew saw the TF Aston Martin drop no lower than fifth throughout the entire race. Some great battles for position were had between the #90 and the Aston Martin Racing GTE Am entry, until the #98 had to box due to a mechanical failure.
Once the TF GTE had taken back the lead in the latter half of the race, there was no letting it slip. With every stint and every pit stop, the gap to P2 grew and at one point they had a five minute race lead. But, after what seemed like the longest stint of his, and the team’s, life, Eastwood crossed the line 49 seconds ahead of Campbell in the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche, to take TF Sport’s first-ever Le Mans victory.
The result was filled with ‘first time’ achievements for the team. Salih Yoluc became the first ever Turkish driver to win Le Mans and Jonny Adam became the first WEC driver to take both GTE PRO and GTE Am honours. It was the first time an Aston Martin customer team had ever won the Le Mans 24H and it was the first European GTE Am win for the Vantage AMR.
TF Sport’s victory, alongside the first and third place finishes from Aston Martin Racing, has secured the Manufacturers’ title for Aston Martin with a race remaining in the season.
GTE Am Championship honours will be decided in Bahrain, the final round of the 2019/2020 season. The team have an eight-point lead ahead of the #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Perrodo, Collard and Nielsen and with x1.5 points to be won at the eight-hour finale, it’s going to be a close fight to the flag.
World Endurance Championship finale at Bahrain – 14 November.
Tom Ferrier – “Everything we have done since the inception of TF Sport has led to this. I truly am surrounded by the best team possible and to build a Le Mans winning car, from a bare shell, in a couple of weeks, is nothing short of amazing! The drivers’ performance all week was second to none and they drove the perfect race. I couldn’t ask for any more and although I don’t think it has properly sunk in yet, it’s a race I will remember for a very long time.”
Salih Yoluc – “We’ve had pretty bad luck over the last three years, so we were determined to turn that around this time. A lot of hard work went into preparing for the race and I’m thrilled that we have won here as a team!”
Charlie Eastwood – “It’s amazing! It was a great race and the last two and half hours of driving to the finish were probably the longest of my life! Seeing the flag drop was a huge relief! To win Le Mans is the goal for almost every driver in the world and I’m so happy to have done it with Salih, Jonny and all at TF Sport.”
Jonny Adam – “The team have done such a great job in preparing the car to the finest detail and perfecting their pit stops and it’s elements like that which lead to winning Le Mans. Salih and Charlie drove so well throughout the whole race, neither put a foot wrong! To stand on the podium once again is a great feeling, but to stand there with those guys and Tom (Ferrier) is extra special!”