TF Sport retain British GT lead despite disappointing Silverstone 500

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Pirelli British GT Championship Silverstone 500 promised so much, but TF Sport left Northamptonshire disappointed with a eighth place and a DNF, despite showing race-winning pace once again (11-12 July).

The #11 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes recovered from an early spin in treacherous conditions to finish inside the top ten, while a collision with the barriers led to a retirement for title combatants, Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam.

That free practice was spent experimenting with setups was symbolic of TF Sport’s confidence, but it also showed the championship-leading team’s unwillingness to relent in its pursuit of pace and consistency, and the British GT title.

TF Sport’s push for the smallest of gains was wise, as the top eight runners were covered by less than one second in first practice, with the #17 V12 Vantage of Johnston and Adam in fourth and the #11 car of Farmer and Barnes seventh.

However, Adam raised the bar on his final lap of FP2; a 2m01.330s was the quickest free practice time overall by nearly four tenths of a second, but six different marques filled the top six positions and the sister TF Sport Aston Martin was only a short way back in ninth, therefore nothing was assured heading into qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Ultimately, Adam and Johnston were happy to take the #17 entry to third overall in qualifying, but there was less satisfaction on the other side of the garage after Farmer and Barnes placed ninth, having not completed qualifying simulations earlier in the weekend.

However, qualifying positions count for little in endurance races and, with heavy rain battering Silverstone, Johnston powered into the lead on the Hanger Straight on lap three, soon after the field was released from behind the Safety Car.

The #17 Aston Martin GT3 showed its winning pedigree once again, pulling out a 13-second lead over the 51-car field before disaster struck.

Running offline on lap 11 to pass slower traffic, Johnston lost control and clipped the wall at the Maggotts-Becketts complex, and TF Sport deemed the damage to the car's front-left to be too great to continue.

Over in the sister #11 TF Sport Aston Martin, Farmer took the first stint from ninth on the grid, gaining four positions by lap six before being caught out by the tricky wet conditions, and spinning at the exit of Woodcote.

Having lost time after being forced to wait for the field to stream through, TF Sport battled back to eighth position and. Team Director, Tom Ferrier, said: “With the #17 car of Jonny (Adam) and Derek (Johnston), we’re fortunate to still be leading the championship. We didn’t finish, obviously, so we had a bit of good fortune there but it’s just a shame we’ve lost the opportunity to gain points.

“With the #11 car we made mistakes, so P8 is as good as we can expect really. It’s a bit sad but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We’re aiming for a clean weekend with no mistakes at Spa and we’ll be ready wet or dry!”

TF Sport leaves Silverstone disappointed, but content in the knowledge that it retains its championship lead heading into the Pirelli British GT Championship’s ‘flyaway’ at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium’s Ardennes Forest (8-9 July).

Source material - TF Sport
Photo credits - Jacob Ebrey
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