TF Sport overcomes torrential rain to claim GT Cup silverware

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Apologies for being missed as was at Le Mans!
Despite suffering from damage to their Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, TF Sport’s driver pairing of Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz concluded a trying GT Cup weekend at Silverstone still in the lead of the GTO category (12-14 June).  
A torrential downpour during Saturday’s (13 June) qualifying session saw Bailey and Schulz position their Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 third in the GTO category, albeit down in ninth overall ahead of the pit stop compulsory 50-minute race.

With heavy rain continuing to fall over the Northampton circuit, poor visibility caused Bailey to make contact with a rival and drop to the very rear of the 29-car field, losing several seconds when his car would not re-start.

As the race progressed, Bailey, who was now only able to use first, second and third gear, scythed his way back up the leaderboard, climbing seven places before handing the reins over to teammate and pro driver, Schulz.

A well-timed pit stop from the TF Sport team saw Schulz re-join the race towards the sharp end of the field, and the experienced racer continued to circulate, using low revs to engage higher gears, before a red flag brought the session to an end with just three minutes to run, Schulz sixth in class and 15th overall.

Bailey contested the following day’s (Sunday 14 June) two sprint races and the Rutland-based driver swapped times with Jim Geddie and Phil Burgan throughout the morning’s 30-minute qualifying session, en route to setting the third fastest time (2m07.204s).

Battling with main title protagonist, Darren Nelson, during the early stages of the race, Bailey positioned his Aston Martin perfectly to halt the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3’s charge, despite suffering from substantial wheel and aerodynamic damage, to greet the chequered flag in third position and claim his first piece of silverware of the weekend.

Lining-up 15th following a ten-place grid penalty for what was thought to be a racing incident in the earlier race, Bailey was quick to climb back up the timing screens as the field tussled for position, trading paint on several occasions in the knowledge that there were no further races to contend.

Once the field began to settle down, Bailey began an impressive charge and had climbed seven positions by the close of the second lap to sit comfortably within the top ten, before setting his sights on reclaiming his original starting position.

With each and every passing lap, Bailey negotiated his way through the field, before crossing the line a respectable fifth position, less than half a second behind fourth placed, Nelson.

“We had a lot of issues we weren’t expecting, but we were still able to perform. We have dropped only the one point in the GTO class standings over the whole weekend, so it could have been a lot worse,” said Bailey. “I came off holiday early on Friday morning and had one quick session to get warmed up before going out in qualifying the following day. I felt as though I set a good time, but, in the race there was so much spray, you simply couldn’t see anything. The car in front of me braked late going into Turn 1, but by that time it was too late for me and we made contact, which spun me round. I completed my stint having climbed nine places with only three gears, before handing over to Andy (Schulz), who found a way to engage more gears. But with no power and gears, I am happy with the result.

“In the second race, I suffered severe contact, which buckled my wheels so much that the alloys were essentially a write-off. Even the end plate of my spoiler was taken off. Nonetheless, I carried on and finished third, which I am very happy about under the circumstances. To then finish fifth after a ten-place grid penalty in race three was also a good result. You are going to have a bad weekend, but we certainly never gave up and showed that we can still be competitive even with damage.”

Continuing to improve in the team’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 was AllFloors Express Managing Director, Martin Johnston, was able to put himself in the mix with his rivals, coming out on top on several occasions to further refine his race craft.

Having tested at Silverstone prior to the weekend with a pro driver alongside him, Johnston was able to then extract the best out of himself and the car to not only qualify well, but hold some of his rivals at bay during the course of the weekend’s three races.

TF Sport will return to action in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship’s flyaway round at Belgium’s iconic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps next month (10-11 July).

Source material - TF Sport
Photo credits - GT Cup
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