TF Sport competed for the first time in the US this week in what was the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season at Sebring International Raceway. While sixth position in the eight-hour event continued the team’s fantastic finishing record in its debut season at the highest level, a diffuser issue in the final minutes resulted in a loss of at least two positions and the valuable championship points that go with it.
“Everything was going really well at the start of the race, strategy was spot on, but we did struggle a bit for pace all weekend,” said TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “We could have got P4 were it not for the diffuser. It’s a bit frustrating as in other recent rounds we were fast, and strategy didn’t pay off. Today we were perhaps not so fast, and the strategy worked. We start again and look forward to the next one.”
The team ran through the usual long run programme on the Wednesday, using the knowledge gained the previous weekend in testing. Final practice ahead of qualifying however brought a bit of a surprise as while a solid fifth fastest, the extensive running at the circuit over the week, combined with the exceptionally high track temperature, brought a change in the balance of the GTE ahead of the all-important qualifying session.
Qualifying went well though with Jonny Adam and Salih Yoluc both putting in strong performances to record a time that would place them fifth on the grid for Friday’s main event.
Salih took the first stint from fifth position, chasing and keeping the pressure on the Dempsey Porsche ahead before handing over to Charlie Eastwood for his first stint an hour into the race. It was a short stint before Salih took back over under the first Full Course Yellow. He duly completed his mandatory minimum drive time and Charlie was back out at the three-hour mark.
A strong run saw him catch and pass the #54 driven by Thomas Flohr and then the #77 of Christian Reid to move third in the Pro-Am class. Having closed on the Project 1 car for position he pitted, and Jonny had his first run of the race.
It was a tight battle for positions three, four and five with Jonny and then Charlie battling with the #54 Spirit of Race and #86 Gulf Porsche and even some contact with the #7 Toyota in traffic didn’t seem to have a major impact on what looked to be a solid position in the closing stages.
Seven hours into the race and Jonny ran fourth with a small gap to rivals ahead and behind. With 30-minutes remaining Jonny reported a car issue to the team having spun and it quickly became apparent that the diffuser had sustained contact and subsequent failure. This resulted in a stop for repairs dropping the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE to sixth position, just ahead of a heavy downpour that effectively ended the race with 15 minutes remaining.
Ahead of the penultimate round of the Super Season at Spa-Francorchamps, TF Sport are fourth in the GTE Am class with 68 points, just one behind Aston Martin Racing and ten behind the second placed Spirit of Race entry.