Surrey based Avon Tyres British GT Championship contenders TF Sport are looking to ‘continue on an upward curve’ when the series heads to Northamptonshire for the annual Silverstone 500 blue riband event this weekend. The two class challenge, spearheaded by series newcomers Horsepower Racing in the Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3, netted its first double points at Rockingham last month after the GT3 machine took 9th place and the TF Sport entered Aston Martin GT4 Challenge nabbed third in class.
Paul Bailey and Andy Schultz in the GT3 Vantage are making their Avon shod debut at Silverstone but have experience of the track after racing not only in the Britcar Endurance Championship on Dunlops but in the Blancpain Endurance Series last weekend with Pirellis. Their target is yet more points, which is likely to be a challenge in the heat of the day and a hectic start with over 40 GT3 and GT4 cars on the grid.
Schultz is optimistic ahead of the weekend saying, “Historically, Aston Martin has always performed well around the fast and flowing Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, so fingers crossed we can continue that legacy! I’ve always performed well there, but while the latest GP layout is very good and is more challenging for drivers, I do have a soft spot for the old Bridge corner. I do miss it.
“This being a three-hour endurance race, it will get very hot inside the car, which will make the race physically demanding; I would prefer two one-hour sprints, rather than a single two-hour stint, but we will discuss strategies nearer the time. I’m anticipating a great event and, having collated a huge amount of data and experience at Rockingham, we have some momentum going forwards. We’ve got to keep our heads down and hold it together and I’m sure we’ll have a fantastic race!”
Paul Bailey is also a fan of the circuit at Silverstone. He added, “Silverstone is an absolutely fantastic circuit. What makes it particularly demanding is its high-speed, flat layout, as it becomes increasingly difficult to judge your speed and braking points accurately over the course of a three-hour race. However, it’s exceptionally safe and anybody who gets to race on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit is a very lucky person.
“I think the TF Sport with Horsepower Racing Aston Martin V12 Vantage will be well suited to Silverstone’s demands, as the track’s long straights and quick corners appear to favour the more powerful cars like the Aston and I think the Bentleys. This will undoubtedly be a very competitive race with a large and exciting grid of cars, but I have some great memories of the circuit and I hope to make some more this weekend.”
There isn’t just the GT3 battle to look at though as TF Sport also run Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4 Challenge. The duo are looking to build on their third place finish in the two hour race at Rockingham, leapfrogging their brand and GT4 class rivals Beechdean AMR. Only 1.5 points split the TF Sport machine from the equally new to the series GT4 Beechdean car at the top of the GT4 championship table.
Modell said he is looking forward to the weekend having never raced on the Grand Prix layout at Silverstone before. “The characteristics of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage should suit Silverstone more than Rockingham,” he explained, “as it’s full of long straights and fast, sweeping bends. It’s also quite a wide track, which will help make allowing the quicker GT3 cars past less frantic for us GT4 drivers.
“Other than a few test days, I haven’t had much experience of Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit, so it will be a new and exciting challenge for me. It’s certainly an opportunity I’m relishing! This will also be the first time I’ve run in all sessions, so I will be able to get a better understanding of the car and its setup. Having said that, I can’t complain about how my season has gone so far. It was a bit disappointing to lose the championship lead at Rockingham, but another podium finish at Silverstone would be fantastic. Of course, the main aim is always to finish first”
Jarman added: “I’ve not raced in an endurance race like this before and there will be some added factors, but it is certainly something I am looking forward to as it gives every driver the chance to spend more time behind the wheel and hone their skills.
“Rockingham wasn’t ideal, but had we qualified well, there is no reason why we couldn’t have won that race. It shows that Devon and I have the pace and are closely matched, which will help over the longer endurance races.”
TF Sport’s GT4 effort holds second place in the class heading into the weekend with 62.5 points while the GT3 campaign with Horsepower Racing sits 12th in the higher class. Bailey and Schultz are split from the Generation Bentley Racing pairing of James Appleby and Steve Tandy by just 1 point after three races.