TF SPORT MAKES IT TWO WITH SUR­PRISE GT WIN AT ROCK­ING­HAM

John­ston and Adam defy the odds to score vic­tory...again.

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By Rob Lad­brook

D

erek John­ston and Jonathan Adam ar­rived at Rock­ing­ham with hum­ble am­bi­tions to just fin­ish in­side the top five. A few hours later the TF Sport As­ton Martin had se­cured its sec­ond win in a row this term, and the driv­ers were in dream­land.

There was an air of good for­tune about TF’S win, which also rep­re­sented both the team and John­ston’s third in a row in Bri­tish GT if you count last year’s Don­ing­ton Park fi­nale. The ma­jor­ity of ri­vals suf­fered ei­ther me­chan­i­cal or ju­di­cial trou­bles in a race lit­tered with in­ci­dent, but re­gard­less all oth­ers had their work cut out try­ing to stop the rapid TF Van­tage GT3.

John­ston is very much the form man of the cham­pi­onship, and his re­mark­able first stint set up the chance for vic­tory. The car car­ried an ad­di­tional 20-sec­ond pit­stop penalty into Corby by dint of its win last time out, but John­ston man­aged to erase much of that deficit dur­ing a dom­i­nant first 50-min­utes of rac­ing.

The big­gest op­po­si­tion all week­end came from the twin Bar­well Lam­borgh­i­nis, which should have se­cured a two-three fin­ish were it not for a late penalty for Pro driver Adam Car­roll.

The Van­tage was the car to beat all week­end, ex­celling in straight­line pace on the long straights of Rock­ing­ham. In con­trast, the Lam­borgh­ini Hu­ra­cans were the ma­chine of choice when things got twisty on the in­field.

“We’re run­ning a 38mm [en­gine] re­stric­tor, which re­ally lim­its us in a straight line,” said Bar­well head Mark Lem­mer. “All of the pace of the Hu­ra­can is in the chas­sis as we run low ride height and high down­force. When we’re in the fast cor­ners we’re on top and, be­ing mid-en­gined, we have good grip off the slow stuff so the speed trap fig­ures are OK, but we tend to run out of puff later on the straights against the As­ton.”

In truth, the dif­fer­en­tia­tor be­tween the As­ton and the Lambo came in Ge­ordie form, as John­ston proved unstoppable in both qual­i­fy­ing and the race. His Q1 time put the car on pro­vi­sional pole and was only just shy of Adam’s best in prac­tice. Adam ce­mented the pole by do­ing enough to en­sure the As­ton was fastest over­all.

“Derek’s pace is bril­liant this week­end,” said Adam. “He’s in a lit­tle bub­ble of con­fi­dence and has re­ally clicked with the car. I still think the 20s pit penalty will be a big bar­rier to us win­ning though so we’re not get­ting too ex­cited.”

But the mood in the garage grad­u­ally changed from quiet ex­pec­ta­tion to sheer eu­pho­ria over the course of an event­ful two-hours.

The two Hu­ra­cans lined up fourth and fifth, with Liam Grif­fin start­ing the car he shared with Car­roll ahead of the sis­ter en­try of Jon Min­shaw and Phil Keen. The Hu­ra­can proved trick­ier for the am­a­teur driv­ers to get a time out of with its aerode­pen­dency, but the Pros’ times told a dif­fer­ent story with Keen fastest of all in the ses­sion. The fight was on for the race.

Start­ing be­hind the TF As­ton was the Ecurie Ecosse Mclaren 650S GT3 of Alasdair Mc­caig and Rob Bell. That car should have been a fac­tor for the win, had tech­ni­cal trou­ble not robbed it of the chance.

When the lights went out, Mc­caig got an early run on John­ston but was wide into Turn 1 and had to set­tle for sec­ond ahead of Grif­fin, who had vaulted into third as the pack ran through Deene. Min­shaw soon fol­lowed to com­plete the top-four train. Grif­fin knew he had to get by the Mclaren to stand any chance of catch­ing John­ston, who had got the bit be­tween his teeth up front and be­gan to pull a gap.

Grif­fin dived for sec­ond at Deene and made it stick, and that was where the race be­gan to fall apart for the Mclaren. Mc­caig held firm in third un­til the car be­gan to stut­ter shortly be­fore the pit win­dow opened.

“I have no idea what the is­sue was but sud­denly the en­gine started los­ing power and we couldn’t change gears, then it would clear and be fine, then come back,” said Mc­caig, who tum­bled down the or­der. He stayed out, hop­ing to make a soli­tary stop when the win­dow opened and swap for Bell at the same time as re­set­ting the car’s sys­tems. But, by then, the dam­age was done.

John­ston was metro­nomic up front, and was the best part of 10 sec­onds clear when he stopped to hand over to Adam. With Grif­fin hav­ing to serve 10s for his third place at Brands Hatch, it was all TF needed to elim­i­nate the hand­i­cap.

Adam took over, as did Car­roll in the Lambo, and the two re­joined to­gether. Bar­well edged in front when the cars re­joined, but Adam slipped ahead on the out lap.

Things looked set as Adam steadily edged away from Car­roll, who had the sis­ter car of Keen be­hind him af­ter it re­tained third dur­ing the stops de­spite Min­shaw over­shoot­ing badly at Deene while bat­tling with Rick Parfitt’s seem­ingly cursed Bent­ley in his stint. Hav­ing been re­paired af­ter a free prac­tice ac­ci­dent, the Bent­ley strug­gled as Parfitt was tipped into a spin early on and then had to serve a stop-go for a clash with a GT4 car af­ter a de­ter­mined fight back up the or­der. The ex­tra stop con­signed him and Seb Mor­ris to 10th.

With a pay­ing driver on each side of the garage, team or­ders weren’t an op­tion for Bar­well and Car­roll’s de­fend­ing from Min­shaw only aided Adam’s es­cape.

Things were shaken up when the safety car was called twice, but Adam con­trolled both restarts as the trac­tion-heavy

John­ston led Mc­caig Mclaren early in race BRI­TISH GT

Two Bar­well Lam­borgh­i­nis starred

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