Tentative steps for Hartshorne in Spain as he looks to the future in GTE class racing

Monday, April 19, 2021

TF Sport’s return to the European Le Mans Series at the weekend marked itself as another new chapter for both the West Sussex based team and their latest Gentleman driver client as each looked to replicate their previous successes in GT racing.

Having raced in the then top-flight of European GT racing nearly two decades earlier, John Hartshorne had his birthday date to mark his return in today’s top-flight of GT racing in Europe with the TF Sport prepared Aston Martin Racing AMR Vantage GTE that he would share with Ollie Hancock and Ross Gunn.

No stranger to racing in modern GT3 machinery with most recent efforts in both the GT Open and the Asian Le Mans Series in a Ferrari 488 GT3 and AMR Vantage GT3 respectively earlier this year, it is still something of a very steep learning curve for the team’s new bronze driver as they only received their factory converted AMR Vantage GT3 from the Prodrive factory in time to conduct a private two day test at the Circuit de Catalunya the week before the Official Prologue Test the week before Sundays opening race.

Whereas AMR factory driver Gunn is obviously well versed with the characteristics of the new turbo charged GTE race car, to have then both your bronze and silver ranked drivers in the same bracket of class/car inexperience was always going to place the #95 crew on the back foot compared with their class opponents and Sunday’s results were a fair reflection of that.

With an entry also already accepted into the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans for the team and crew, what mattered most to them in Spain was to ascertain a progressive learning curve in understanding and performance in time for the revised LM24 date in August that gives the team only the next two rounds of the ELMS at both the Red Bull Ring and at Paul Ricard to finely fettle everything before Hartshorne makes a return to the Circuit de La Sarthe.

Looking at earlier Free Practice session times from Barcelona where Hartshorne was some five seconds a lap slower than his nearest Bronze rival, to then go on to post his fastest lap of the meeting during his actual race stint (effectively halving that gap) proved that his progress has already started with similar lap time improvement seen from Hancock as he too gets to know the ‘feeling’ of the GTE iteration of the AMR platform.

Qualifying P5 in class thanks to Gunn, the #95 car eventually went on to finish P8 overall in class.

The next round of the Series is at the Red Bull Ring, Austria on the 16th May.

Photo credits – ELMS / TF Sport
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