In Race Reports

The legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, cutting deep through the Belgian Ardennes Forest, lived up to its reputation despite the beautiful race day weather last weekend for Round 4 of the European Le Mans Series (ELMS). Ben Tuck and his fellow crew of the TF Sport run #95 Aston Martin Vantage successfully negotiated a chaotic and incident filled race, coming through unscathed to finish 9th in the LMGTE class.

Image: Andrew Lofthouse

In a race with no less than 5 Safety Car periods and numerous other incidents, they only suffered one mishap with a Drive Through penalty early on in a race in which they could have easily been caught up in one of the incidents. However, the afternoons turmoil still affected their results, as for the second race running, the team were unlucky when the timing of the each of the Safety Cars prohibited them from being able to un-lap themselves.

Despite the fractured nature of the race, TF Sport and Bens crew had reason to remain positive. “The car has been excellent all weekend,” said Ben. “We made a lot of improvements through practice and the team did a great job to give me, John and Jonny a great car”.

After a solid couple of days practice, the crews Bronze rated driver, John Hartshorne, got the 4-hour race underway from 12th position on the Sunday morning. Almost immediately, John had to call upon his wealth of racing experience to pick his way past a crash at turn one, the La Source hairpin, in which 5 cars from the faster LMP2 classes collided resulting in the first of the afternoons safety cars. 20 minutes later the cars were released to race once again. A busy stint subsequently saw Hartshorne deal with a Full Course Yellow flag period, a drive through penalty and a pitstop to refuel before finally stopping after 35 laps to hand over the car to Platinum rated Aston Martin Factory driver, Jonny Adam.

Image: Andrew Lofthouse

Almost immediately Adam encountered a Safety Car period, taking 8 laps to clear before he could unleash the #95 Aston Martin.  After another Safety Car, Adam had a solid stint, pitting on lap 60 in 10th position to hand over the car to Ben Tuck for the final run to the flag.

With the gap to the car ahead now too large to make any gains in position, all that was left was for Tuck was to put in a solid and consistent drive, which is exactly what he delivered. In amongst another two Safety Car periods, a Full Course Yellow period and a brief stop for fuel, Ben was able to stretch the legs of his Vantage GTE to capture the teams quickest lap so far. After 85 laps run, Ben safely brought the car home in 9th place.

Ben was positive overall about the potential going into the final two rounds. “Not the result we hoped for, but the positives are that we can dial in the car to the conditions really well and we can have a good car for the final 2 races at Portimão”.

Ben next races at Portimão, Portugal on 20th and 22nd October.  

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