A weekend of extremes for TF Sport in GT Open at Monza

Monday, October 03, 2016

What a difference a day makes!

That was the unfortunate situation faced by the Surrey based TF Sport team and their drivers Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey after last weekends penultimate round of the 2016 International GT Open season.

Friday Free Practice sessions saw the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 Pro/Am driver line up dominate the timing screens for both sessions prior to Saturday's Qualifying for Race 1. The teams early pace then transferred into Hankey's first pole position of the season, beating both of the Teo Martin BMW's by just 0.051 of a second!!

Race 1 was equally thrilling with Hankey capitalising on his prominent track position and establishing an early lead over the rest of the fifteen car entry. With no distractions in front and immediately behind, Hankey continued to put in constant lap times and whilst those playing catch up behind squabbled and slowed each other down he eventually pitted, just beyond the half way point of the race, to hand Yoluc a twenty second lead by the time he exited the pit lane.

A twenty second lead with just twenty eight minutes of the race remaining may seem a safe prospect to some but with Fabrizio Crestani now in the championship leading Orange1 Team Lazarus Lamborghini Hurac├ín it was now anything but……..!!

For lap after lap Crestani took chunks of time out of Yoluc's lead - with the passing of each and every lap came a reduced deficit until Crestani had his one and only opportunity to attack coming into the Parabolica on the final lap. Clever car positioning and watchful on his mirrors fortunately allowed Yoluc to block the first attempt forcing Crestani to go the long way around but with too much entry speed forcing the #27 wide and slow.

It was win number two of the season for Hankey, Yoluc and TF Sport.

Sunday was however a different story. Gone had the morning sun and warmth of an autumnal Monza with rain taking over the proceedings and the change in track conditions obviously proved challenging for Yoluc who was, at one point in the qualifying period, seven seconds off the lead pace of the Garage 59 McLaren. He would however recover on a drying track to qualify in P8 by the end of session but with all of their championship rivals ahead of them.

The slow but continually improving weather conditions at least allowed Race 2 on Sunday to start on a borderline dry to damp track but that wasn't enough to improve the days fortunes for the #34 car! Quickly loosing ground to those ahead of him, Yoluc was obviously struggling either with himself or with the performance of the car itself. Confirmation of his predicament was obvious when he suddenly slowed and pulled off the circuit just prior to the start of the Variante Ascari chicane. Bitter disappointment especially after Saturday's successes.

It was later confirmed that a gearbox issue was the cause of their retirement and their non score in Race two ends any hope of the team winning the 2016 championship.

Photo credits - Fotospeedy

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