Having taken a victory last time out with Jonny Adam and Derek Johnston, TF Sport were bullish heading into the Silverstone 500 this weekend (10-11 June, 2017) in what is the fourth round of the British GT Championship. Unfortunately, the race weekend turned out to be a disappointing one with power steering issues blunting the challenge, almost from the outset.
Saturday practice saw the team working through setup programmes, adapting to the changing circuit with tyre pressure changes on both the #1 and #11 Aston Martin Vantages. Having set the fourth and ninth best times in GT3 in practice, qualifying saw a similar pattern emerge with Johnston and Adam recording the seventh fastest time overall in GT3.
Race day saw the #1 team lose position almost from the outset as Johnston spun on the opening lap. With it all to do, Johnston carved his way through the field to run ninth before a power steering failure forced him to pit with just under 40 minutes complete.
“I spun on the first lap and then had to wait for the field to pass though,” Johnston said, “I then felt like I had a puncture and pitted immediately, the car just wouldn’t turn all of a sudden. It was of course the steering, it’s was impossible to drive. Looking now at the times Jonny is doing in the race is really impressive with 750 kilo V12 over the front wheels and no power assist.”
Adam took over for the second stint, making ground to close in on the eighth placed #19 of Charlie Robertson. Lapping a second quicker than those ahead, he ran out of time and pitted to hand back to Johnston with 90 minutes remaining before taking the chequered flag in ninth.
Meanwhile, over in the #11 side of the garage, the start of the race proved to be less dramatic with Mark Farmer enjoying a good opening stint, despite pressure from behind to run fourth overall from ninth off the grid before handing over to teammate Jon Barnes.
“It was a good stint even if I had to defend quite a bit from those behind,” said Farmer. “Still, we’re in the mix and let’s see what Jon can do.”
While the #11 crew were able to maintain position, there just wasn’t enough pace to make progress. Farmer lost further time late in the race when the #31 forced him into a high-speed spin, before finishing the race in seventh position.
“We’re a bit lost to be honest,” said TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “We made a lot of changes to the #1 Aston after qualifying and Derek in particular was happy with the gains – not just in lap time – but in ease of achieving those times. It didn’t matter much today in the race though with the steering failure. They pushed on and finished which may not seem much at the moment, but you never know, could matter come the end of the season.
“With the #11, there was the spin, but that didn’t cost us that much but Mark did a great job all weekend as did Jon. It’s just a case of us needing to find more speed from the package – as it has been in recent rounds.”
The next round of the British GT championship takes place at Spa Francorchamps, Belgium on 7-8 July. Before then TF Sport will be in action this week at the Road to Le Mans, as well as the classic 24-Hour event itself.