Euan Hankey says that TF Sport’s narrow second-place class finish at the Total Six Hours of Spa was a “fantastic” result for the team on its full-season FIA World Endurance Championship debut.
Hankey, driving the British outfit’s No. 90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE shared with Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood, finished 0.221 seconds behind Pedro Lamy in the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing entry after a tense final-stint battle between the pair.
The AMR car, which Lamy drove with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda, was around 30 seconds in front with 1 hour to go when its advantage over the TF Sport car was reduced significantly by the third and final safety car period.
Despite catching Lamy and almost seizing victory with an attempted lunge at the Bus Stop, Hankey was forced to settle for second but was nonetheless delighted by his team’s showing against the more experienced Aston crew.
“It’s fantastic because we had a really bad qualifying where the tire pressures cost us our true pace,” Hankey told Sportscar365.
“He was certainly struggling, as was I, towards the end. I would catch him but then I’d get some traffic and it would push me back.
“Every time I got close to him I would lose downforce. It was so difficult to follow. We don’t have much downforce on our car, so whenever you get close it really is difficult.
“I just found it super hard and he wasn’t really making any mistakes. But we got a podium around a track that shouldn’t really suit our car. At Le Mans, it’s going to be lovely for us with the long straights, so it should suit us more.”
Hankey admitted he could have been more aggressive in going for the win, as Lamy delivered a record fourth Spa victory for the No. 98 crew to kick off its WEC title defense.
“I went for the move and he closed the door quite aggressively last minute so I just had to avoid him,” said Hankey.
“I went over the Bus Stop when in hindsight I should have just rubbed him and taken the space, but I was a bit too nice.
“There was no damage, no contact. In hindsight, I probably should have got my elbows a bit more but I was trying to be respectful.”
Lamy: Porsche Would Have Been Harder To Hold Back
After winning, Lamy said that he would have struggled to hold back one of the Porsche 911 RSR entries had they been present in the battle for the win.
All four Porsche GTE-Am cars encountered trouble at Spa having occupied four of the top five places in qualifying.
The two Dempsey-Proton Racing entries forfeited significant time with the No. 88 hitting the barriers at the esses and the pole-sitting No. 77 losing two laps with a fuel pump problem.
The Gulf Racing and Team Project 1 cars also had accidents, with the latter hitting the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE in the pitlane.
“A Porsche would have been harder to hold back,” Lamy told Sportscar365. “I knew the car behind was really similar – he had a different setup but not anything huge – so that helped.
“To overtake he would have needed to make a good maneuver to do it. The Aston was coming back all the time as I had traffic so it was close stuff.”
Hankey added that the pace of the Porsches meant an Aston Martin 1-2 was a “lucky” result.
“The Porsches were super fast, too fast really,” Hankey said. “They need to be pegged back a little bit on the BoP side, so we were lucky they had problems today and we just capitalized on them.”