TF Sport’s efforts to repair their British GT Championship-leading Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 in time for qualifying earned them the PMW Expo Team of the Weekend Award at Spa-Francorchamps.
The #17 car sustained heavy front-end damage at the fastest part of the circuit during Friday’s first free practice session when Derek Johnston hit a patch of oil and was pitched sideways into the Kemmel Straight barriers. But while the accident brought an end to the #24 Team Parker Racing Bentley’s weekend after it suffered an identical crash, TF Sport’s crew worked tirelessly to patch up its Aston.
That owed much to the V12 Vantage’s ‘bolt on/bolt off’ front chassis element, without which it’s unlikely the car would have raced on Saturday, let alone been ready for qualifying that same afternoon.
Indeed, an entirely new front-end was assembled just in time for Johnston and Jonny Adam to qualify a highly creditable seventh after barely completing a lap in anger, while the latter also underlined his and the car’s potential by setting the third fastest Pro time.
Team Principal Tom Ferrier takes up the story:
“I guess you could say the Aston’s designed well for crashing!” he chuckled. “The front half is designed to break away but we still had to replace the sub-frame, taking the engine out and then putting it back in again, too. The guys had some prior experience of doing that over the winter so weren’t fazed by it.
“We started by assessing the damage but couldn’t commit to rebuilding the car before pooling spare parts. Fortunately we managed to come up with everything after speaking to Prodrive, Beechdean AMR and Motorbase, as well as using what we had in the truck. The job took about five hours from the Aston coming back on the flat-bed to us being ready in time for Derek’s qualifying run. We actually ran the #11 car with just two crew members in FP2 as everyone else was busy rebuilding the #17!
“The best bit was seeing Jonny set third fastest time in qualifying. That’s not only testament to how hard the boys worked but also the quality of their finished product. It was quite emotional seeing the car go back together, actually.”
Contact with a GT4 car, which knocked the #17 Aston’s steering out of alignment, might have restricted Johnston and Adam to seventh in the race, but TF Sport’s hard work at least gave them a chance to score the nine points required to maintain their GT3 drivers’ championship lead.
Rounds seven and eight of this year’s British GT Championship take place at Snetterton on August 6/7.