Disruptions and incidents didn’t stop TF Sport victory

Monday, April 18, 2016


Less than one hour of the scheduled two-hour opening round of the British GT Championship season was run under green flag conditions, but good strategy meant the #17 TF Sport entry of Jonny Adam and Derek Johnston wasn’t left short-changed.

At the start of the race at a beautifully sunny Brands Hatch, it was Rick Parfitt Jnr’s Bentley that made a good get away from the rolling start fending off numerous attempts by Johnston to squeeze his V12 Vantage into first place for his starting position of second.

However, the speed of the Crewe machine was too much for an Aston that doesn’t entirely suit the twisty Brands circuit and instead of looking in front of him, Johnston had to gaze behind as Liam Griffin in the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 got ever closer to the back of the TF Sport machine.

It didn’t take long for Johnston to be passed by the Lamborghini and had to settle in for a third place he would be relatively secure in for the time being.

Further behind that battle Andrew Howard, in the Beechdean car that started dead last in class because of his inability to attend qualifying because of his ELMS exploits, found himself slowly picking off cars and 30 minutes in he would lie in eighth place and looking to make a move on those ahead.

A bit further back from even this battle, the GT4 class lead battle was hotting up for Jack Bartholomew in the Baby Beechdean Vantage as he climbed a couple of early positions to find himself second – ahead of pole-sitter Anna Walewska. 

Also going well in GT4 was Jamie Chadwick in the Generation AMR SuperRacing entry, starting from 13th after a pretty ordinary qualifying. She would put the moves on a number of rivals ahead of her to be running within the top six before the race’s biggest incident put pay to her charge.

That incident involved the Motorbase Performance Aston of Phil Dryburgh, the Simpson Motorsport Ginetta and the Generation AMR MacMillan Racing Vantage. They would all tangle out of site of many in the media centre going down Pilgrims Drop and impact the barriers heavily. 

Thankfully all three drivers escaped unharmed from the incident but all three cars would have to retire. It also meant a full course caution period that would eventually last for more than 40 minutes.

It was during that caution TF Sport played their match-winning hand, they would wait a lap or two longer than their rivals before they came into the pits – avoiding all the congestion suffered by others, namely Parfitt, and saw Jonny Adam come in-and-out significantly faster and go straight into the lead.

Once the caution was finally lifted, Joe Osborne in the AmDTuning.com BMW Z4 would start knocking out fast laps in an attempt to close the gap from his second position to race leader Adam. He did it well for a time, but once Adam felt his lead starting to erode, he stepped on the peddle and set the fastest lap of the race, a 1:24.695, to make sure he would stay first.

One loser after the restart was Jordan Albert, who had taken over the GT4 Beechdean, his over-exuberance saw him take a trip through the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend and slip from third to fifth. 

One man on a charge though was Ross Gunn. Showing he had speed throughout the weekend, Gunn would be sat in fifth place - just in front of Jon Barnes in the second TF Sport entry – and would bring the gap down between himself and Fabio Babini in the Barwell Lamborghini down to just 0.077s at points in an attempt at making a pass.

Unfortunately for him, and for Jody Fannin who was charging up the order to 8th place in the PFL Motorsport Aston, a red flag because of the #56 Tolman Ginetta catching fire curtailed proceedings with 22 minutes left to run on the clock and race officials announcing the race wouldn’t restart.

In the post race press conference, Johnston said: “We made a decent start and everything felt good. But half a dozen laps in I lost the rear end and it was really snatchy. I knew it was important to hold on and five or six laps later the car came back to me. We were perhaps fastest on track at that time before the accident happened. But we decided to roll the dice and stay out a bit longer, and it worked. 

“Jonny’s made a massive difference to the team because of his knowledge of the car from working at Beechdean. Everyone’s raised their game as a result, including me.”

Joe Hudson

Photo credits - Jacob Ebrey / British GT
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