Starting fourth and 12th, TF Sport were looking forward to a good strong race today (22 July) at Spa Francorchamps as the British GT Championship travelled to Belgium. For one car it looked to be a good day with a fighting third place finish on the road, but for the other it was disappointment following a first lap retirement.
Heading into the seventh round of the championship, TF Sport were chasing their fourth straight victory. Qualifying proved to be a mixed affair with Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim reasonably content with their fourth fastest time, while Derek Johnston and Marco Sørensen were a frustrated 12th, but much happier with the handing of the #17 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 following a setup change.
For Mark the race over in seconds. He made a good start in the #11 Aston, maintaining position through La Source and found himself on the outside on the run to Euan Rouge. Ahead, there was light contact while alongside Mark, the #30 RAM Racing Mercedes jinked left and into the side of the Aston Martin.
With a damaged front right wheel, Mark found himself pushed hard into the left-hand-side retaining wall and immediately out of the race following a brief oil fire. Derek meanwhile ran in tenth position in the sister car as the safety car was deployed.
It proved to be an especially strong stint for Derek who steered clear of trouble as those around him suffered incidents and received penalties. Having made a setup change ahead of qualifying, he was much happier with the balance of the car and it showed as he moved up to fifth by the end of his one-hour stint.
Marco took over, quickly moving fourth and that became third when the #116 Mercedes ahead spun. Despite his best efforts he was unable to pass the Team Parker Racing Bentley ahead and at the chequered flag, Marco took the final step on the podium, just 0.096s adrift. Following the race, it was determined that Derek had made avoidable contact and a 30 second time penalty was added to the result, dropping him to seventh.
The next round of the British GT championship takes place at Brands Hatch with the team third and fifth in the standings heading to the penultimate round. Ahead of that, the team stay put for next weekend’s Blancpain GT Spa 24.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“A real mix of feelings after that one. I’m gutted for Mark as he did nothing wrong and it was a good result for Derek. We’re second and third in the championship, so it’s not terrible, it just frustrating. If Mark had finished that race, I think he would have been right up there to capitalise with all that went on. On to the next one.”
“I’m obviously delighted to get a third-place finish at Spa as it’s the worst track ever for me. I’ve always had back luck here but today was good, I did my stint, kept it safe and let it all unfold in front of me which is where a bit of experience comes in handy. I just let it come to me, something Jonny (Adam) taught me to do, so a good weekend in Belgium for us.”
“Really good. A good stint from Derek and then it was my turn. I came out behind a Mercedes and he tried to pass the Bentley and they made mistake and didn’t commit to the pass. So, I got a run through Eau Rouge to pass the Mercedes but then I got stuck behind the Bentley. When he (Ryan Ratcliffe) didn’t make mistakes, he was a little quicker, but then he started focusing me in the mirrors and started making those mistakes. That backed me up a bit into Jonny (Adam) and I just wanted the Bentley to GO! Then into the last corner Jonny was in the inside and he was right in behind the Bentley, so I just focused on getting a good exit.”
“Very simply, I didn’t get a brilliant start and we (Remon Vos) were side by side exiting La Source. He got a slightly better exit and was a nose in front and you can see from the onboard that the Aston of Graham Davidson and the Bentley of Ian Loggie had a little bit of contact and Vos saw that as an overtaking opportunity and just pulled left instantly and pushed me into the wall. There were flames coming out of the front, flames coming out of the rear. That was that. Over in an instant.
“We were here to score a lot of points. We had the pace and a starting position that supported that but fortunately our championship rivals didn’t maximise the opportunity. We’ll nail Brands Hatch.”