Having scaled the podium last time out in Shanghai, Red River Sport by TF Sport knew that they had made best of the strategy to gain the position and that the second round of the Asian Le Mans Series at Fuji Speedway would be a tougher challenge. Despite the atrocious weather conditions, the team took the chequered flag in fifth position on a trying day with all three drivers relatively content with performance and the overall outcome.
“We can be happy with the weekend,” stated TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “We couldn’t expect a repeat of the first round in terms of result, so in such cold and damp conditions, all three drivers put in strong performances and it was good to see Ivor make his debut with the team, albeit in we had hoped for more favourable conditions.
“We don’t get too excited by a P5, but it was a good performance and it is part of a larger picture with Red River Sport. The car and team performed flawlessly and it was a good learning experience for the two Gentlemen drivers. All in all a good day at the track.”
Having missed the opening round, Ivor Dunbar made his series debut for the Red River squad this weekend. The programme, headed by Johnny Mowlem, aims at providing his two Gentlemen drivers – Ivor and Bonamy Grimes – as much GT3 experience as possible ahead of a larger project to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The team opted to give Ivor a bulk of the running in the first free practice session. The Bronze driver completed 23 of the 44 laps in total in the session, with the team finishing Friday fourth fastest. Following the second free practice session where the team completed 34 laps of the Fuji circuit, Ivor was offered the chance to qualify the #5 Aston and he duly recorded the fifth fastest time in the GT class ahead of Sunday’s Asian Le Mans Series 4H race.
Ivor was understandably cautious as the race got underway in near freezing conditions and with rain in the air. The British racer briefly took fourth position as Francesco Piovanetti got caught out in the tricky conditions and spun out of the GT class lead, while tyre issues for the #11 Car Guy entry helped Ivor maintain the position for much of his stint.
The main objective for Ivor was to hand over the #5 Aston Martin Vantage undamaged to Johnny for a long two-hour stint in the middle of the race. Despite his considerable efforts behind the wheel, a drive through penalty for speeding exiting the pits hampered Johnny’s stint as he circulated in fourth position.
The recovering #51 Spirit of race demoted Johnny and the team to fifth with Johnny pushing on in the slippery conditions before handing over to Bonamy for the final run to the chequered flag. Bonamy didn’t put a foot wrong and like teammate Ivor, gained valuable experience on the international stage.
Oman Racing with TF Sport now prepare for the challenge of the Gulf 12 Hours next week as the team run the new generation Aston Martin Vantage GT3 for the first time. Ahmad Al Harthy teams up with Jonny Adam and Darren Turner in a bid to win overall honours in the Pro class.