Reigning champions TF Sport will field an unchanged two-car British GT3 entry in 2017 after confirming 2016 drivers’ champions Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam, and race winners Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes are returning to the series.
The deal offers Adam an opportunity to win an unprecedented third consecutive crown after becoming the first driver in British GT history to win two. The Aston Martin V12 Vantage he shares with Johnston, which claimed the opening two races of 2016 before finally sealing the title at Donington’s final round last month, will also be running the #1 panel for the first time.
And the Aston Martin factory ace, who secured the 2015 championship 12 months earlier alongside Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard, confirmed he was as determined as ever to make it three in a row.
“It has been a mega year for TF Sport and I’m already looking forward to spending 2017 with the team and Derek [Johnston],” said Adam. “Consistency is always positive and this should help Derek up his game again, but everybody is trying hard to improve and winter testing will be important for looking at the minor details to find those last few tenths of a second.
“I’ve been in British GT since 2011 and Aston Martin Racing has placed me with several teams in several championships, but I particularly enjoy working with TF Sport. Having raced at a high level himself, Tom Ferrier understands what’s needed. I really like the attention to detail, he has good staff, the cars are always beautifully turned out and it was clear that winning the championship meant a hell of a lot to everybody involved.
“Doing the double with two different teams was great, but winning a third consecutive title and doing it with TF Sport would be very special and I’m hungry to make it happen. TF Sport is a young team and it has come a long way in only a few years, also winning in Europe, which is great from Aston Martin’s perspective. However, we need to move forward from the last round of 2016 and we have a great test structure in place.”
Adam’s title winning co-driver Johnston is also feeling bullish about his chances of defending the crown.
“We learnt an awful lot as a team and as individual drivers in 2016,” he said. “Tom Ferrier’s understanding improved massively and everything came together nicely to ensure we could win the title. I want to be up there again next year and I don’t see any reason why we can’t be. We will be among the favourites for the 2017 titles, but a lot depends on how the Balance of Performance shakes out. I definitely feel confident in my own ability and I now know how to race in British GT.”
Meanwhile, Farmer and Barnes also remain with TF Sport for a second season after claiming their maiden British GT victory together - and the latter’s first since his 2008 championship-winning campaign - at Spa-Francorchamps.
The pair ultimately finished fourth in the standings, which also helped TF Sport edge Barwell Motorsport in the teams’ standings. Channelling that late-season form into the start of 2017 will be crucial to mounting a concerted title attack.
“Mark [Farmer] and I got some really good results at the end of this season and the priority will be to continue that from the start of 2017,” confirmed Barnes. “We ended up in an unexpected position, on the cusp of the championship fight going into the Donington decider and that was mainly due to the improvement Mark made in the latter half of the year.
“If we continue refining our qualifying techniques and find more consistency for the races we should be in contention for the title come the end of the year, and we have a big winter programme of testing, sim work and karting to get our act together.”
“We feel pretty good about 2017 and that’s primarily due to the way we performed at the end of this season,” he added. “Ultimately, it was all about eradicating mistakes and we’ll be going into the new season feeling very positive and excited. We’ll be in a position where the pressure isn’t really on us. We obviously hope to be in the mix and we’re confident we can be, but I’m not thinking about results. I need to focus on preparation and I’ll take it one corner at a time. The results should come.”
This winter’s testing programme will be centred around optimising set-ups and trialling a host of new ideas conceived by TF Sport’s engineers as well as Pro drivers Barnes and Adam. Indeed, it’s evolution rather than revolution that team boss Tom Ferrier believes will be key to TF Sport retaining its titles next season.
“It has been something of a watershed year for TF Sport, as we’ve won races and championship titles on both the British and European stages and I believe consistency will be key to carrying the team’s form over into 2017,” he said.
“This season’s successes prove we have a winning structure and everything we need to defend our British GT Championship crowns, with two quick driver pairings and the support of Aston Martin Racing. We just need to optimise our package in winter testing to ensure we hit the ground running again at Oulton Park in April.”
TF Sport’s announcement comes one week before entries officially open for the 2017 British GT season. It also means both drivers’ championship-winning crews remain unchanged after PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport confirmed in late September that GT4 winners Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson would be returning to defend their class title aboard a Ginetta G55.
The 2017 British GT Championship gets underway at Oulton Park on April 15 & 17.