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TF Sport Set for European Return Despite Brexit Backdrop

TF Sport likely to continue in World Challenge next year with Oman Racing and Ahmad Al-Harthy…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

TF Sport is set to defend its GT World Challenge Endurance Cup class title and could even run multiple cars in Europe next year despite Brexit uncertainties, according to team principal Tom Ferrier.

The team that won the 2019 Pro-Am Cup with an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is also expected to defend both of its British GT Championship titles in the GT3 and GT4 ranks.

Ferrier said that Ahmad Al Harthy, who clinched the Pro-Am title with Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc, is set to be back next year with his Oman Racing concern.

“In GT World Challenge Europe, I’m sure we’ll go back with Ahmad, and then maybe a Silver lineup in that as well but it’s more of a long shot,” he told Sportscar365.

“I think it’ll just be endurance. They’ve released Pro-Am into the Intercontinental [GT Challenge] as well now, but it’s a big budget because it’s all very long races.

“It’s something we’re looking at with him, and we’ll get to a figure [and decide] but I think, more than likely, we will do Pro-Am again in GT World Challenge Europe.

“The driver lineup will be similar, I think. We’re not sure on the second Bronze driver. We’ll definitely have Ahmad and probably Charlie, and maybe Salih. We’ll see.

“I don’t know if Salih will go on with WEC or not [after the 2019-20 season]. I think it depends on how he does. If he suddenly wins it and wins Le Mans, he might move on because he’s still got other things to achieve.”

TF Sport’s plans to continue in both British GT and World Challenge Europe come against a backdrop of uncertainty for teams competing on both sides of the English Channel.

Ferrier admitted that the United Kingdom’s delayed withdrawal from the European Union, which has been pushed back to Jan. 31., has made it tough to prepare for 2020.

He expressed concern at the impact additional border checks will have on packed schedules for British teams wanting to compete both at home and on the continent.

Other high-profile British GT3 outfits that also compete on mainland Europe and within the EU include Optimum Motorsport, Barwell Motorsport and Team Parker Racing.

“I think the only real sticking point is the back-to-back races you have,” said Ferrier.

“We’d love to do British GT the week after Blancpain but, I don’t know, are we suddenly going to have a problem where it takes a week to get a truck back?

“We can always get out and come back again, but it’s just the uncertainty of how long that process takes. Whether or not we use a workshop in the south of France for the European car or leave it there for the season…

“Whether or not you can just do a carnet per truck and you always load the truck the same, and it’s just one bit of paperwork… we don’t know. That’s the thought of what it would be.

“But the time delay is the question mark. If you’ve got Monza and then Oulton Park the weekend after, it’s hard enough to get there anyway, let alone if you’re stuck at the docks for two days being checked.

“But it’s all problem-solving. It’s what we do.”

Ferrier suggested that the lengthy Brexit negotiations and lack of definitive action are making Am drivers more cautious about committing to race programs for 2020.

“A lot of the Ams are very wealthy businessmen and I think a lot of them are sat on the sideline at the moment because they don’t know what it means for their businesses,” he said.

“They don’t know the effect of if they spend half a million pounds. You want to know that it’s going to be there and that your business isn’t going to have a downturn.”

Despite the uncertainty, TF Sport is also understood to be talking to a potential European Le Mans Series customer for next year, which would mean running a GTE car.

However, Ferrier doesn’t expect a decision to be made on this until after the New Year.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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