Red Bull Ring sets an unlevel race playing field for TF Sport in GT Open

Monday, September 12, 2016

TF Sport’s Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey battled to a pair of sixth place finishes in Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2016 International GT Open at the beautiful Red Bull Ring (10-11 September).

Whilst the British GT side TF Sport were preoccupied at the Donington finale, Yoluc and Hankey were busy representing the team on the European continent at the picturesque Red Bull Ring in Austria’s Styrian Alps.

The weekend began with free practice and the ES Motor-liveried Aston Martin lapped the 4.32km circuit competitively on worn tyres, although it was immediately obvious that the turbocharged BMW M6s had a distinct power advantage over the naturally-aspirated competition at high altitude.

Nevertheless, Yoluc went fastest in the Bronze session and followed that up by placing his TF Sport-prepared V12 Vantage in sixth despite running on a single set of tyres for the duration.

The Turkish gent then fought his way up to third as others faltered or served penalties in the opening phase of Saturday’s (10 September) race, but TF Sport carried a success penalty from winning last time out at Silverstone and lost ground while stationary for an additional 15 seconds during the compulsory driver-change.

Hankey was sent on his way without fresh tyres and the Briton’s pace was strong enough right through to the chequered flag to secure a solid sixth on rubber that had completed in excess of 250km in qualifying and over the course of the 70-minute race.

The TF Sport pairing went on to qualify fourth for the second race on Sunday (11 September) and, while the BMWs were clearly untouchable, the McLarens, Ferraris and Lamborghinis were seen as realistic targets.

Hankey took the start, but blocked in behind Fernando Monje who was slow to react, he lost positions and found himself in P6 with an Aston Martin that lacked pace on full fuel at the completion of the opening lap.

Yoluc found himself locked in a close three-way battle for fourth, fifth and sixth that was led by the #22 McLaren 650S of Shaun Balfe and involved the #1 BMW of Pieter Schothorst.

The brawling trio closed in on the McLaren of Alexander West in the final podium place during the dying embers of the race and Yoluc managed to find his way into fifth before a fast-approaching Duncan Tappy got the upper hand on the final lap, demoting him back down to sixth.

Hankey said: “We arrived at the Red Bull Ring knowing it wouldn’t be a good track for us and, given the quality of the International GT Open entry, I’m really pleased Salih (Yoluc) and I managed to take a pair of sixths from the weekend. It was always going to be tough against the BMWs, but we thought we could fight well inside the top six. Salih did a great job to go fastest in the Bronze test and then translate his pace into sixth and fourth place qualifying positions. We did a decent job in relative terms, but we weren’t helped by the Balance of Performance.”

Rounds 11 and 12 of the 2016 International GT Open are scheduled to take place at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy on 1-2 October.

Source material - TF Sport
Photo credits - GT Open (Fotospeedy)
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