A pair of spins proved costly for the TF Sport pairing of Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz on the Blancpain Endurance Series debut at Silverstone.
The duo, who are also in their first season in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, entered a Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in the Gentlemen Trophy class of the three hour race on the Northamptonshire Grand Prix track and showed promising pace in the wet weather practice sessions on the Saturday before qualifying fourth for the main race on Sunday afternoon.
However, while Andy Schulz started well, starting to make up places almost instantly after the pack took the rolling start a tap on entry to the fast sweep at Maggotts pitched the car into a slide that ended in the gravel trap on the outside of the corner. Fortunately the marshals were able to pull the car from the gravel to continue in the race, though the five laps lost ended any chance of the calibre of race result their practice pace deserved.
The team continued, Bailey gaining more valuable experience at the wheel of the car while the team gathered data for potential use at this weekend’s British GT race on the same track.
While again showing good pace Schulz was forced wide exiting Chapel, dipping wheels onto the still wet grass sending the car spinning across the track, backing into the wall on the Hanger Straight where the team’s race came to an end.
“What happened wasn’t ideal and I truly believe Andy and Paul had class-winning pace,” said team boss Tom Ferrier. “We opted to carry on after losing so much time due to the incident at the start, as you never know what will happen. It was a recce for the drivers ahead of this weekend’s British GT round and I think it was a good experience for them, despite not completely as many laps as we would have liked. Still, it’s just the way it goes in motorsport sometimes.”
“It was a raceday to forget!” said Schulz.
“Paul and I went very well in the wet earlier in the weekend, but we didn’t seem to have as much pace as expected in the dry, having completed no testing miles on the Pirelli slick tyres that would have allowed us to find a decent dry setup. As a result, we didn’t qualify as well as we would have liked and that left us vulnerable at the start, where I was punted into the gravel. When you’re five laps down in a championship as competitive as Blancpain, you have to wonder whether or not to call it a day, but the decision was taken to carry on and our pace was good enough for a podium finish in the Gentleman Trophy.”
He continued; “Nevertheless, there is some data we can carry through to next weekend’s British GT round and both of us are fresh and familiar with the circuit, so I think we can crack on with new chassis and try to nail the dry setup. Although it could potentially help us if it was wet.”