TF Sport have announced they will make their debut in the European Le Mans Series in 2017, fielding an Aston Martin Vantage GTE in the GTE Class, with Euan Hankey, Nicki Thiim and Salih Yoluc.
The British GT champions have already accepted an invitation to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2017, and will have a full-on attack on ELMS with a trio of exciting talents.
“TF Sport has had a lot of success in the UK and Europe, but it has a long-held desire to go further and it’s special that I will accompany the team as it heads into this big, new challenge,” said Thiim. “The European Le Mans Series is completely new for me and I’m not familiar with all of the tracks, but I know it is very competitive, with grids full of teams who put everything into winning it for a chance to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It’s a good step towards racing on the international scene in the FIA World Endurance Championship and I’m here to help TF Sport achieve the goals it has placed over the season. I’ll be able to pass on to Salih (Yoluc) and Euan (Hankey) all of my knowledge and experience with the Aston Martin GTE and the tracks I have raced on to ensure we’re successful, because I’m always in it to win it.”
Thiim already has prior commitments for Le Mans with the #95 Aston Martin Racing entry, so Hankey and Yoluc will be joined by Rob Bell, with the trio looking to take class honours in June.
“Racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans has been my biggest dream since I was very young, but it has come sooner than I expected in my partnership with Salih (Yoluc) and TF Sport,” said Hankey. “I’m really interested to see what’s in store for 2017, because Salih repeatedly exceeded my expectations last year, including in the recent GTE test in Bahrain.
“Salih is an eternal optimist – you have to dream of the glory, otherwise there’s no point in racing – but 2017 will be a learning year, in my opinion. Having said that, I’m excited and enthusiastic after seeing in Bahrain that Salih is already on top of the GTE car.
“There’s a lot to learn about the car, procedures and how to manage traffic, but Nicki (Thiim), Rob (Bell) and I are here to make sure he continues to develop and is equipped for every eventuality in a car with more downforce and no ABS that requires a deft touch on the brakes. Being consistent in a racing situation is going to be more difficult.”
Amateur driver Yoluc is hopeful of challenging for honours in both ELMS and Le Mans in 2017, and feels that with someone with the calibre of Thiim on board, it is certainly possible.
“Entering the ELMS and 24 Hours of Le Mans has been my goal since the day I started racing,” said Yoluc. “I feel blessed to have this opportunity so soon and, while we got a small taste of what’s to come when we raced on the Le Mans support package, I don’t think it reflected even half of the excitement and the challenge of actually competing in the 24 Hours.
“The goal in the ELMS is to win both championships and I believe our team is very capable of doing it, especially with a driver of Nicki Thiim’s calibre on-board. Euan and I had a taste of the Aston Martin GTE in Bahrain and we both felt quite good in it. I can’t wait to get started with some proper testing.”