Dominant win for TF Sport in inaugural GT3 Le Mans Cup race

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Under clear blue skies and with the back drop of the historic Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari,  Surrey based TF Sport looked quietly confident on the grid ready for the first round of the ACO's GT3 Le Mans Cup today.

With the teams 'Gentleman' driver Salih Yoluc starting their vibrantly coloured V12 Vantage GT3 for the two hour race from P3, it didn't exactly take too long or too much effort for the young Turk to assume the race lead from which they would never look back.

Following the customary rolling start associated with GT racing it took the squabbling Menthos Racing Porsche and BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari, who started just ahead of the #34 Aston just one bend and one corner for them to take themselves both out of contention, either via a long journey through the gravel trap or by (in the case of the Porsche) terminal suspension damage.

Having avoided that incident Yoluc was able to concentrate on the clear track ahead of him, taking himself and the #55 FFF Racing McLaren and #26 Classic & Modern Ferrari 458 away from the chasing pack with him. There was however one further heart stopping incident for Yoluc to contend with and again at the Traguardo Chicane where a recovering FF Corse Ferrari 488 unintentionally returned to the circuit straight in front of the leading trio warranting avoiding action from the front pair of cars.

Just before the hour mark the permitted pit window opened but Yoluc elected to stay out slightly longer and was actually one of the last to pit for fuel, tyres and driver change still just ahead of the second placed #55 McLaren.

With Pro driver Euan Hankey now at the wheel the #34 cars lead had now grown to 13 seconds from the chasing pack for the final hour of the race. Indeed, with Pro drivers now in most of the remaining cars everybody knew that it would still be a simple drag race to the end with former AMR WEC driver Francesco Castellacci being constantly the fastest on track in his Ferrrari 488 whilst he tried to close his gap to third.

In the end Hankey was simply able to control the race from the front, regulating his speed relative to those behind him taking the chequered flag on the 68th lap by nearly 17 seconds from the second placed FFF Racing McLaren and by a further 44 seconds ahead of the third placed #26 Classic & Modern Ferrari 458.

The meaning of this result to the team and drivers was obvious to see once Hankey had removed himself from his car in Parc Ferme.

The championship now moves on to its second but 'non championship' round of the series this time in support of the Le Mans 24hr event at La Sarthe on June 18th. Based upon todays performance alone series favourites would have to be spread between the Aston Martin, McLaren and the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 but with more cars due into the series that may just well change!!

Photo credits - Adrenal Media

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