A frustrating weekend for TF Sport in Spa

Monday, May 23, 2016

Riding high on the crest of the wave that was the teams victory at Imola last weekend, TF Sport arrived at the Belgium Spa Francorchamps circuit with high expectation for what was the second round of the International GT Open Series.

Featuring a fifteen car grid drivers Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey also needed a good haul of points on the board after having to withdraw from both races at round one in Estoril due to accident damage in April.

Early indications were good with the #34 car posted the quickest time (by nearly half a second) from the chasing pack in the first of the Free Practice session's -  then in FP2, and despite the car dropping down to third overall, the cars pace had improved by over a second since the morning.

However, qualifying for Race 1 was another story and despite posting a similar time to that in FP2 the best the car could achieve for the race on Saturday was starting from P9 and a whole three seconds off the pole setting pace of one of the Teo Martin BMW M6's!!

With clear blue skies and high track temperatures the field undertook their rolling start followed the expected bumping and rubbing into La Source that allowed starting driver Salih Yoluc to pick up a few easy places only to loose half of them again down the Kemmel Straight. After only five minutes of racing the top six had already broken away from the pack but a mistake from the leading BMW put himself off and heavily into the tyre wall at Pouhon, damage that would see the Safety car neutralise and control the field for the next twenty minutes. By the time the green flags were shown the pit window had opened and Yoluc pitted.

Exiting the pits back in ninth it was time for the teams Pro driver Euan Hankey to push but the cars apparent lack of straight line speed and twitchiness in the corners was apparent and despite everyones best efforts a finishing position of P6 was the best the team could muster.

Post race inspection found that a failing bearing in the cars suspension was the route cause of the car's chronic understeer although the lack of terminal speed was down to an 'unfavourable' Balance of Power.

Qualifying for Sunday's Race 2 was better with the team finishing in P4, this time just half a second down to the pole McLaren but with this time weather looked like it would have an impact on the racing later that day. Indeed, by the time Race 2 came about the heavens had opened and the circuit was awash with rain to such degree that the race had to be started behind the Safety Car.

With Hankey at the wheel for the start of Race 2 each lap behind the Safety Car would be a waste of his talent as others around him had their Gentleman driver at the wheel for the start. After more than twenty minutes had elapsed behind the Safety Car Hankeys remaining time would prove insufficient for him to allow Yoluc to defend the cars track position against Pro drivers once the compulsory stops had been made.

Just five minutes after pitting the chasing pack had caught and passed the beleaguered Yoluc who quickly had to realise that P6 was the best that was available to them again and would drive a defensive and percentage race for the final twenty minutes.

A disappointing end to a weekend that started so well for the team. The team will now continue its hectic european adventure at next race in the GT Open series at Paul Ricard, France over the 5 and 6th June. With the car presently blighted with a lower than preferred straight line speed that could be another difficult weekend too.

Photo credits - Fotospeedy

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