TF Sport Team Turkey give all, but leave rain-hit Vallelunga FIA Motorsport Games disappointed
TF Sport took part in the FIA Motorsport Games for the first time this weekend, representing Team Turkey in the GT Cup with last year’s inaugural race winners Salih Yoluç and Ayhancan Güven teaming up in the #1 Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Sadly, the rain hit weekend was severely compromised by adverse weather and this, combined with some Stewards’ decisions, meant that the team left the Italian circuit of Vallelunga disappointed with the eventual 12th position finish.
The pivotal moment of the event came in Saturday’s first qualifying race. Salih had again performed superbly in the short 20-minute qualifying session to start the first race for Team Turkey Aston Martin on the front row of the grid alongside Team Japan and ahead of the Portuguese entry.
With light rain falling, Salih made a good start to maintain the position only for Team Kuwait and Belgium to come together and bring out the first of many safety cars that dominated the event. The restart after ten minutes saw Salih chasing eventual champion Hiroshi Hamaguchi for the lead before the rain started to fall harder once again. Salih lost position to Team Russia and then defended from Portugal before the second safety car was deployed.
The series determined it was too wet to race and there was a lengthy red flag period. With eight minutes of the allotted hour of racing remaining, Ayhancan was behind the wheel on wet tyres as the racing resumed.
However, a late call from the series meant that he had the remaining eight minutes of racing to complete plus an additional 21 before the chequered flag. On wet tyres and with the circuit drying, the only way was backwards, and the Turkish racer was powerless to compete with the slick-shod runners as he dropped to 13th at the flag.
The second qualifying race on Sunday morning was similarly as chaotic. Ayhancan started the 60-minute race from 15th position, having made a mistake on his own hot lap in qualification. Rain was falling once again and following ten minutes behind the safety car, racing resumed only for Team Malaysia and Russia to crash out almost immediately. Back under red flag conditions as the rain fell, racing only resumed after a lengthy wait with Salih taking over in what was in effect, just a 22-minute race.
Last year’s Nations Cup winner made progress initially to run in eighth, but with the tyres starting to go away, was unable to maintain his position. Battling hard for position, a last lap clash with China lost him further ground as he took the chequered in 16th position.
The grand finale, the third race of the weekend, was no different from the others with rain and safety cars dominating. Salih started the race from 16th position on wets and was soon pit-bound as the circuit dried. He resumed in 20th position and worked his way up to 15th before pitting with 35-minutes remaining.
With conditions now all but undriveable, Ayhancan resumed before another safety car came out, directly in front of Team Turkey. A lap down, it was all about damage limitation and as racing resumed Ayhancan kept clear of the carnage to run 12th ahead of the final safety car of the race - and ultimately the chequered flag.
On the back foot from race one, combined with the dreadful weather, TF Sport leave Vallelunga disappointed and head straight to Shanghai, China for the third round of the FIA World Championship.