Tom Canning takes first British GT victory at Spa!

July 24, 2019

British GT

It was a memorable weekend for Tom Canning and the TF Sport team as they charged to victory in the GT4 class at the British GT annual visit to Spa-Francorchamps.Tom and teammate, Ash Hand, gave the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 its first win and they couldn’t have picked a better place to do it! The result boosts them up to third in both the drivers’ and teams standings whilst the pair now also lead the Silver class.

Spa has always treated the Aston Martin well with the manufacturer picking up lots of wins in the FIA World Endurance Championship there over the years. With that in mind Tom and the team came in very confident and it looked possible after qualifying that we could see an Aston Martin on the top step in both the GT3 and GT4 classes.

Standing in their way would be a gruelling two-hour race around one of the most difficult circuits in the World and a grid of over forty cars! Qualifying went well for the team with Tom and Ash putting the car on the outside of row three for the start of the race. However, with the BMW on pole almost two seconds clear from the field, winning the race was going to be a very difficult task.

With a best result of second this season and a slightly difficult last round the goal was to get back into the fight for the GT4 drivers title and the team did just that!  Ash would start the race and after a late switch of the lights at the start, the field were quickly bunched up going into ‘La Source’. Ash took advantage making a brave move around the outside to go up to fourth before making an even braver move at ‘Eau Rouge’ to slot into third behind the other TF Sport Aston Martin. 

As the cars made their way into ‘Les Combes’ an incident in the GT3 class ahead had everyone taking avoiding action, but Ash read the situation perfectly to move up to second. The first phase of the race would see Ash under huge pressure from the second TF Sport car as well as the Tolman Motorsport McLaren and it would eventually see Tolman pass leaving Ash in third.

But as the Tolman cars started to battle Ash closed back in and it was not long after that we saw the pit stops taking place which left the number four Tolman car racing against Tom for the race win. Going into the final thirty minutes Tom was harrying the McLaren, but whilst he was on the attack he also had to keep in mind tyre wear which would come into effect later in the race. 

With both drivers making no mistakes it would all come down to a last lap showdown. Going into the final chicane for the penultimate time Tom dived to the outside as Josh Smith ahead went defensive drawing alongside under braking. Tom saw his chance to take the lead as he bravely held on around the outside through the right hander giving him the inside going into the left.

But as Smith cut across there was slight contact which immediately damaged the left rear of the McLaren forcing it to retire at the next corner. Thankfully the Aston Martin was unscathed and all Tom had to do now was keep it on track for one more lap and it would give TF Sport their first win in GT4 since 2014!

The last lap seemed to go on forever but he would bring the Aston Martin home to take its first win of the season winning by a comfortable margin! It was a huge day fort he team as they are just five points off the top of the standings in the Drivers’ Championship having moved up to third and are within twenty points of the leaders in the Teams Championship. Tom and Ash now also lead the GT4 Silver class by just 1.5 points with two rounds remaining at Brands Hatch and Donington Park.

Tom Canning: “We did it, we won British GT4 at Spa. A great result, not only for Ash and I, but also for Aston Martin achieving the first British GT win for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4. An amazing achievement for its debut season! We have put in so much hard work to get to where we are - it is such a special feeling”.

It was a win that had been a long time coming for the team and the Aston Martin Vantage and it seems Tom has now turned a corner in British GT. He made no mistakes on arguably the toughest track on the calendar and kept constant pressure on the leaders before making his move going onto the final lap. It was a deserved win after a cool performance which showed experience beyond his years! It certainly would have impressed not only the team but Aston Martin as well.

From being out of contention for the title all of a sudden they now have a big chance to win and will be pushing to take the lead of the standings next time out at Brands Hatch on the 4th August.