It may be British GT’s most successful team so far this season, but TF Sport has still had a mixed year, and the Kent-based squad is heading into the last rounds of the year hoping to build on early-season success.
Tom Ferrier’s outfit won the first two rounds with Jonny Adam and Derek Johnston in the No. 17 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, giving the pair an as-yet-insurmountable lead in the championship standings.
“We’ve won three out of the six races so far, and have had some good points finishes in other races,” team owner Ferrier told Sportscar365.
“We’re leading the championship with the No. 17 car and we’re just leading the teams’ championship now by a few points over Barwell Motorsport, so it’s been very good.”
Johnston and reigning champion Adam have been able to hold onto the top spot even with a series of challenges in the mid-season, including a DNF at Silverstone and a rush to fix the damaged car prior to Spa-Francorchamps qualifying.
“It was a great start to the year, with a different team but same car, pretty much,” Adam told Sportscar365. “I’m driving the GT3 [Aston] for my fifth or sixth year now.
“I knew the car would be very good; TF always runs a good car. To get two victories at the start of the year was mega.
“With Derek, I knew straight away that he would be a fast Am, but he shocked not only me but the team with his speed at the start of the year.
“After that, we got a bit of rotten luck. At Oulton Park we got a bit of weight thrown at us through Balance of Performance, which really did penalize us.”
“We had the disappointment of a crash while leading at Silverstone, which was a real shame because that would have put us in a strong position,” Ferrier added.
Johnston crashed into the barrier at Spa in Free Practice 1 when he ran over some oil left on the track. This put the team in a race against time to carry out repairs ahead of qualifying.
“The boys at TF did a mega job to turn the car around,” Adam continued.
“With any other car, it would have been a case of putting it in the truck for the weekend, but with the way the Aston is designed at the front, it’s pretty much bolt-on, bolt-off parts all the way to the chassis.
“We managed to turn it around, which was a task in itself.”
However, while Adam and Johnston struggled at Spa, the sister No. 11 car took its first victory of the year.
In fact, not only was it Mark Farmer’s first series win, it was also Jon Barnes’ first win in eight years.
“We jumped in with TF this year and got our first win as a pairing, and my first win in eight years, which was obviously a big thing at Spa,” Barnes told Sportscar365.
“It wasn’t a fluke win, because there was nothing to do with pit strategy or safety cars. Mark got into the car and did a good first stint and then I managed to finish it off in the second half of the race.
“That was the most pleasing thing about it from our point of view, because it was a genuine race victory.”
It had been a difficult season until then for the No. 11 car, but the Spa victory promoted the pair to fifth in the standings.
“From mine and Mark’s point of view, the start of the season didn’t go according to plan,” Barnes said. “Mark had a couple of mistakes in the opening stint at the races, and an engine failure at Rockingham.
“It put us on the back foot and meant that when we had the chance to get a podium result, we didn’t quite manage it.
“But then we had a good couple of tests at Spa, and a really nice, clean race weekend with no mistakes at all. That shows what you can do when you have a race weekend when you’re both on your game, you can go out there and get a really good result like we did.”
Ferrier says the aim for both cars is to get back onto the podium, with three races left in the season. With the remaining races at tracks the team was successful at last year, he has high hopes.
“If you look at the end of last year, we had a podium at each of the last three rounds, with a double podium at Snetterton and then a 1-2 at the last round at Donington,” Ferrier said.
TF Sport’s main rival for the championship is Barwell Motorsport, and Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw are only a few points behind Adam and Johnston at the moment.
Barwell runs a pair of Lamborghini Huracán GT3s, but Ferrier is still happy with the competition between the new Lamborghinis and the ageing Aston Martins.
“If you look at all the qualifying performances over the year, it’s only ever been a couple of tenths either way in their favor or ours,” he said.
“I’d say they’ve done a good job with BoP between those two cars and I think Barwell is a strong team that’s doing very [well].
“Their driving pairings are very strong as well. I think we always knew they were going to be probably the toughest team to beat.”
The upcoming double-header at Snetterton sets the series up for its finale next month at Donington. Ferrier has his goals clear for this weekend.
“We’d like to see the No. 17 car back on the podium, as a minimum, and it would nice to be lead [the championship] going into Donington.”