TF Sport extend points advantage with Brands Hatch win

Monday, August 17, 2015

Victory for Paul Bailey was the highlight of another stellar GT Cup outing for the championship leading TF Sport team on the world-famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (15-16 August).

Qualifying for Saturday’s sprint race – Round 16 of the 2015 season – was a close-fought affair, only two tenths of a second separating eventual pole-sitter Richard Chamberlain and Bailey at the conclusion of the session.
Nevertheless, Bailey’s grid position was in line with TF Sport’s ambitions to consolidate its title bid with podium finishes, and the first of two races ‘down the Hatch’ would see the Redhill, Surrey-based team surpass its aspirations.

Pole man Chamberlain duly led the way as the field dipped down Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, but was hotly pursued by Phil Burgan’s Audi R8 LMS and Bailey’s Horsepower Racing Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 when, on lap three, an over-exuberant lunge by Burgan resulted in contact between the leading pair.

Chamberlain’s orange Porsche 935 sustained race-ending front-end damage in the contact and Burgan was later forced to make an unscheduled stop to replace a punctured tyre, therefore Bailey was left to run a controlled, untroubled race out front and pick up the fastest lap en route to victory.

“The race started with the Audi getting past but we’d agreed we were looking for a top three finish,” said Bailey. “So when the top two took each other out it was great for me. Maximum points, maximum enjoyment. I’m really, really chuffed.”

For Round 17 on Sunday, Bailey secured pole position and looked on for a clean sweep of wins during the initial stages of the race, only to find himself on the receiving end of another carelessly executed overtaking attempt by Burgan.

The duelling pair collided at Westfield and Bailey suffered a severe delay as the Brands Hatch marshals worked hard to extricate him from the gravel bed, allowing the Rutland racer to receive the chequered flag third in class.

As a result, TF Sport has stretched its advantage at the top of the GT Cup standings from 56 to 110 points and the team theoretically requires only eight more to seal the overall championship title, with 50 standing between it and top honours in the headlining GTO division.

“I should be feeling better than I am, given that we’re in a very strong position and can potentially wrap up the overall GT Cup title in the next round at Donington Park,” said Bailey. “I thought Paul Burgan’s moves on Richard Chamberlain and myself were foolish and I’m disappointed the clerk of the course didn’t take a harder line because we sustained severe damage to the Horsepower Racing Aston Martin. The marshals did a fantastic job to get me out of the gravel. I was over the moon with the win on Saturday and then sealing pole position for the next race on Sunday. I drove like a demon and I intend to do the same at Donington!”

In the GTA class, Martin Johnston secured a brace of top five finishes to bolster his position on the points table.

There was a notable improvement in Johnston’s lap times compared with the GT Cup’s previous visit to Brands Hatch in May, therefore his main focus was solely on beating the only other Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 in the field.

The drama-filled pit stop compulsory race on Sunday (16 August) saw Johnston yoyo up and down the order, as the AllFloors Express Managing Director surged from seventh to fifth prior to being spun out by a faster GTO contender, to then doggedly recover back up the leaderboard into fifth position.

“I was satisfied with the way Saturday went, because I qualified well and my race pace was strong too,” said Johnston. “My first aim was to better my lap times from earlier this year and I was 2.5s quicker straight out of the blocks, which was very pleasing. I was then concerned with beating the rival Aston Martin GT4 and, while I managed to do that in the first race, I was tipped into a spin and had to recover in the second race, which had some really manic moments. TF Sport was once again fantastic and the car ran faultlessly throughout. I’m there or thereabouts and competing with the best of them in class, so I’m happy.”

Source material - TF Sport
Photo credits - GT Cup
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