In Race Reports

In a welcome addition to their 2023 campaign, the crew of Ben Tuck’s bright red and white #95 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE continued their solid and successful partnership into early 2024, by entering the Asian Le Mans Series. After 5 thrilling rounds, steadily improving results, a fastest lap and a podium finish at the finale, it was clearly a fruitful decision that served as a fitting conclusion to Ben Tuck’s current stint with TF Sport and the Aston Martin Brand.

The Asian Le Mans Series is the follow-on Championship to the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), in which the TF Sport trio competed during 2023. Run to the same regulations as ELMS, it races twice at Sepang in Malaysia before stopping off in Dubai and then finishing up at the sparkling Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit in Abu Dhabi for a stunning day/night double header under the bright lights of the harbour. Straddling the winter break across Christmas and the new year, the Asian Le Mans Series is now a key component in the GT racing year, allowing teams and drivers alike to maintain their skills in the warmth of the Asian and Middle Eastern climates between the traditional European and American seasons.

By the time of the first round of the Asian Le Mans Series in December, the #95 crew consisting of Bronze driver John Hartshorne, Silver rated Ben Tuck and Aston Martin Factory driver, Jonny Adam together with the team, TF Sport, were a well-oiled squad. Their 2023 ELMS season had already netted a podium, at round 2 in Le Castellet, so the decision to maintain their momentum together before TF Sport switched to Corvette Racing in 2024, was a logical extension and one that allowed Ben Tuck to get more international circuits under his belt.

Image: Sergey Sarasov

The Malaysian double header weekend at Sepang got the team off to a solid start, but it was monsoon rain that was to throw Race 1 into chaos after Hartshorne qualified the car in 20th position. Tuck handled the final stint during which during which the downpour caused an early finish to the race. However, before the rain hit, he put in a stunning performance, registering 6th fastest average lap time and fastest of the Aston Martin drivers, bringing the car home in 15th position.

In Race 2, Ben improved still further, taking the final stint and what followed was a mesmerising performance that he later described as the best GT laps of his life. Climbing several positions after making a number of bold overtaking moves, Ben drove the car to the flag in 9th place after logging outright GT3 Fastest Lap, 5th fastest average GT3 lap, and fastest GT3 sectors in Sectors 1 and 2. There could hardly have been a more convincing statement of his maturity and talent as a pro driver.

Image: Sergey Sarasov

Into early February 2024, and Round 3 in Dubai beckoned. Under desert skies, Ben and the #95 crew tackled the dusty track from a qualifying position of 19th. Negotiating an early puncture, they were able to take advantage of a safety car to steadily push forward through the field, with Ben taking a long final stint to bring the car home in 10th place.

Just a week later, the team lined up on the grid of the stunning Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. Testing had revealed yet another leap forward in pace and John Hartshorne claimed his best ever Bronze Qualifying result of 15th. Again, Ben took the final stint to take the best result of the Asian season so far, a fantastic 6th place in the desert dusk.

Image: Sergey Sarasov

The following day, the season finale was set up as a day / night race and under the harbour circuit lights. The race was again interrupted by a red flag period for barrier repairs, which the team used to their benefit. With reduced drive time due to the delay, Ben took the middle stint, whilst Jonny Adam drove a longer final stint.

This time the #95 crew were able to benefit from Safety Cars and steadily began to move up the order with Ben climbing from 17th to 5th place, allowing Jonny to maintain the momentum, finding a season best finish of 4th by the flag. But there was more good news to come when the team were informed that due to a post-race penalty, they had been promoted to secure 3rd place.

Image: Sergey Sarasov

As Ben prepares to move on to the next challenge, the Asian series summed up a highly successful stint of international GT racing throughout 2023 and into 2024 with TF Sport. With more experience across new tracks, Ben has again established himself as one of the fastest drivers in the GT world today.

As he eyes new opportunities in 2024, Ben looked back on his time with TF Sport and the dependable Aston Martin Vantage:

“It’s been an amazing time with TF and Aston” he said. “It was clear from the first test that we had a solid partnership in the making. TF have been fantastic, and the car has been mega everywhere we’ve been. We all made some great progress and of course I’m happy to have put in some decent performances especially at Indianapolis and Sepang and comparing well with the Aston Pro drivers. That was my aim – come to a new team, new crew, new car and show what I can do.”

Looking back on his highlights, Ben remarked “Obviously sticking it P2 in Indi was a big one, just a hundredth [of a second] off [ex Mercedes & BMW Factory driver] Marciello, happy with that. But Sepang race 2 was the best for me, for sure. I had some great battles, the car felt great, and I really felt like I could attack, I actually felt my stint in that race was one of the best I’ve ever driven. I really enjoyed making some moves and battling, taking fastest lap was quite sweet!”.

Clearly the future is bright for Ben Tuck, and his 2024 programme will be announced very soon.

Recent Posts