I don't think I could have asked for more from the weekend - a win and a second place was a fantastic result for all concerned. Several people had worked hard to put the necessary pieces in place for this weekend and it came together quite late, but it was a great opportunity for me. I have known the guys from TF Sport for a while now and have a lot of respect for them, so was looking forward to working with them.
Qualifying was on Saturday morning and Darren put the car on pole for race one in wet conditions. My qualifying was a couple of hours later and it had stopped raining as the session for GTS cars started. We were in the Super GT class which went out 15 minutes after them. I was just starting my first flying lap when the red flag came out, resulting in a delay which meant that the track had turned greasy by the time we went out. The result was that the first three cars were from the first GTS class session and I was fifth, 0.1 off the championship leading Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari which was quickest in Super GT.
In Race one, Darren took the lead from pole and continued to build a gap which had grown to over 40 seconds by the pitstop. We had an additional 15 second pit stop penalty due to it being a one off entry into the championship, so the lead was reduced after the stops but I had it back up to 44 seconds when a safety car was deployed, wiping out the advantage. I had been cruising along in the lead, just being consistent and making sure we got the car to the flag. The safety car meant I had to get the restart spot on to ensure we won the race. There was a lapped Porsche between me and the second placed Corvette of Francesco Pastorelli. Coming down the Wellington Straight I let the safety car go ahead and timed the restart in the hope that I could get away while the rest took a few corners to get past the Porsche. The plan worked and the gap had stretched to 4 seconds by the end of the lap and was over 8 seconds by the flag. It was a fantastic feeling to be winning again!
Sunday afternoon’s race was always going to be a lot tougher, due to the additional 15 second pit stop penalty which we had been given after the win the previous day - making the total penalty 30 seconds.
Race 2 started well from fifth on the grid. I was up to fourth place by the end of the first lap - the number 55 Ferrari then ran wide on lap 2, so I moved up to third. The car had been mega quick through Copse all weekend and on lap 6 I got a run on the Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari into Maggots/ Becketts and was through and up to second. I then set off after the leading Porsche, setting the fastest lap of the race to that point, and made a move up the inside into Stowe, into the lead on lap 7. I managed to stretch a gap to the now second place Ferrari of Daniel Zampieri, which stabilised at around the one second mark. With 25 minutes on the clock, the team called me in to hand over to Darren, the gap having reduced to almost nothing by a back marker holding me up through Stowe Corner. After the stop, Darren was in seventh place and picked off several cars ahead with a few quick laps and was up to second place with seven laps to go. The gap to the lead Ferrari was over fifteen seconds, and with time running out, he backed off and brought the car home second which was another great result.
Thanks to John Gaw from Aston Martin Racing and Tom Ferrier from TF Sport for working so hard to put this all together and also to Tim Nadin from IWI Watches for coming on board. The guys did a fantastic job with the car all weekend , I really enjoyed working with Darren and hope to have another outing in an Aston Martin before too long!
Aston Martin Racing ace Darren Turner and young GT star Jody Fannin complete an exciting and formidable driver line-up for TF Sport’s International GT Open assault on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit (19-20 July).
The International GT Open has enjoyed a rapid expansion in its short nine-year history, growing in success in terms of quality of entries, exposure and its global reach, with a philosophy for simplicity and stability that continues to attract many of the world’s greatest teams and drivers.
Instrumental in reviving the traditional Pro-Am spirit of GT racing, a bumper field of GT2 and GT3-spec machines from some of the world’s most prestigious sportscar manufacturers is expected to turn out for the fifth round of the 2014 season at the home of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix, Silverstone, this weekend (19-20 July).
TF Sport has been selected to represent Aston Martin Racing (AMR) at the event and will field a sole GT3-spec V12 Vantage for AMR regular Turner and young, up-and-coming GT star Fannin.
The Tom Ferrier-led squad from Redhill, Surrey is a full-time contender in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship but is known for undertaking successful exploratory outings in other high-profile GT racing contests, such as the Blancpain Endurance Series and Dutch Supercar Challenge.
With high-calibre drivers such as Turner and Fannin joining the fold, TF Sport’s short and long-term ambitions are clear.
Turner – a McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award winner – is one of the most successful and experienced British racing drivers on the current circuit.
The Banbury racer has been a key member of Aston Martin Racing since 2005 and, having won the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours French endurance classic twice, is currently taking on the FIA World Endurance Championship in an Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
“I’m looking forward to racing with TF Sport this weekend,” said Turner. “It’s a fairly late addition to my race programme but I know the car and I know the track so we just need to make sure we spend time during the practice sessions to learn about the tyres. TF Sport is a young team but it has experienced people behind it, so there’s no reason why we can’t have a good race meeting. I’m racing with Jody Fannin, an upcoming GT driver who I have heard a lot about, so It’ll be good to see what he’s got too.”
Fannin, aged 20 from Surrey, was crowned British GT4 Champion in 2012 after notching up several race wins, pole positions and fastest laps, and was then nominated as a BRDC (British Racing Drivers’ Club) Rising Star as he took the step up to the world stage in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
“I’ve known the guys at TF Sport for a while now and have a lot of respect for them, so I’m looking forward to working with the team,” said Fannin. “At the beginning of the year, I tested the Aston Martin GT3 car at Portimao. It went very well and we have been working hard ever since to get the right opportunity to race the car. I raced mainly in Europe last year, so to compete at Silverstone again in 2014 with Darren Turner is fantastic and I can’t wait. In addition, the car should be very competitive at Silverstone, so we’re naturally hoping to mix it at the front of the field.”
Aston Martin Racing Managing Director, John Gaw, said: “TF Sport is a team Aston Martin Racing wants to work with for a very long time and we all have a lot of respect for Tom (Ferrier) in terms of what he has achieved as a racing driver, engineer and Team Manager. We wanted a top-level team to represent us in the International GT Open at Silverstone and all of the ducks fell into line with TF Sport, Darren (Turner) and Jody (Fannin.
"We’re very familiar with the International GT Open and like the package, and the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 is a proven winner on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. With such a formidable driver line-up – Darren knows the car really well, while Jody is a hugely talented young racer – I believe TF Sport has a great shot at victory.”