Well versed in challenging for victories, the fifth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Shanghai was a disappointing event for TF Sport as they finished in eighth position on a day where track conditions made all the difference.
Two red flags and multiple safety cars indicated the difficulties the competitors had to endure on Sunday (18 November) but unfortunately Salih Yoluc was amongst many who lost control of their racing machines in the opening laps of the six-hour event. As a result, TF Sport resumed the race towards the back of the Pro-Am field, ultimately finishing eighth in the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
Practice saw the team top the opening practice session in wet conditions with Charlie Eastwood opting to run slicks in the closing stages to vault fastest. The team worked through the programme and come qualifying, were somewhat disappointed to be fifth on the grid, while being mindful that six-hour event could – and ultimately was – something of a lottery.
Race day brought no surprises as the heavens opened, meaning that the start of the race would take place behind the Safety Car. Following a red flag period the race resumed, with Salih maintaining position whilst pressuring the #88 entry ahead. Approaching the final corner on lap ten, Salih lost control and slithered into the gravel trap.
Two laps down at that point, it became a race of survival with Salih completing his stint before handing over to Charlie who had a great run from the back, towards the front albeit not for position. Jonny Adam took over for the final run to the chequered flag, playing it safe as conditions deteriorated once again.
With 58 points secured, Salih and Charlie are third in the drivers’ championship, 26 behind the class leaders. TF Sport now prepare for their debut in the Asian Le Mans Series which begins this Friday with the four hour race taking place on Sunday morning.
Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director
“Not the result we wanted, we came into this race thinking about the win, but that’s not the way things have gone. Normally we think ‘what it could have been’ but in all honesty, it was a tough race for us but that’s the way it goes. We lost ground in the championship, so we need to get back to our normal levels of performance at Sebring as we don’t normally struggle to be on the podium.”
“The first stint on the full-wet tyre was a bit difficult but then we swapped to the intermediate and found quite a lot of pace. I started the second stint at the back of the field and moved to the front. Traffic was difficult, I battled with the Porches and when they got within a second, I got the blue flags and had to back out to let them through, whereas normally I would be battling with them, so that was frustrating from that point. Overall it was good, just a shame we were a few laps down. The conditions were so difficult, so to finish the race was a task in itself. On to Sebring.”
“Not the greatest weekend. We came here second in the championship and maybe we missed a trick in quali, especially from my run, but the key thing was that we just didn’t have the pace, Unfortunately Salih’s mistake cost us what could have a top five, but it was such a tricky race with the weather and anyone could have made such a mistake. Salih made it early and it’s all but impossible to recover two laps, let alone one in this championship.”