Tom Canning’s journey to the British GT title

October 9, 2019

British GT

It has only been a few weeks since Tom Canning wrapped up the British GT title in both the overall GT4 Driver’s Championship and Silver Cup! Driving the brand new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 alongside Ash Hand, a strong end to the season would see the team (TF Sport) win the title by just 7.5 points.

Oulton Park – A false start

The 2019 season would see a new start for Tom, now teamed up with TF Sport and with the support of the Aston Martin Racing Driver Academy Tom came in to each round fully prepared.  He was able to work with the AMR Driver Academy in the simulator and fitness sessions which is a huge asset required in endurance racing.

However, despite showing such promise in practice Tom got off to a slow start in terms of points. Tom was quickest in practice and reflected that pace in qualifying finishing second in class. Podiums now became the minimum with expectations quickly rising, but it unfortunately would become a round to forget after incidents in both races would see a retirement in race one before a strong comeback would see the team leave with ninth in race two.

Overall there were only positives to take away from Outlon Park, Tom and Ash had shown the car can be competitive and fight for race wins in both races.

Snetterton – Back with a bang

With all the bad luck now seemingly out the way the team reflected their impressive pace from the opening round and got off to a solid start finishing sixth in the opening race.

Things would only improve in race two with that podium pace finally getting it’s just reward with Tom and Ash driving the car to the second place! It was a brilliant result which had boosted them to tenth in the drivers’ championship and fourth in the teams standings. Tom’s efforts on track were also being recognised off it as he was selected as one of sixteen drivers to join the Motorsport UK Academy Squad.

Silverstone 500 – Breakthrough victory!

The first taste of victory for Tom would come at the Silverstone 500. A gruelling race which sees the car go 500km around the Silverstone GP circuit is a tough test for any racing driver. The task of a podium was made even tougher with Tom ninth on the grid and carrying a success penalty of 15 seconds from Snetterton.

Tom would have to call upon his experiences from the Gulf 12 Hour and 24 Hour of Dubai as he fought his way through the order and after a brilliant drive from himself and teammate Ash they would bring the car home to win the Silver Cup class and finish third overall in the GT4 class.

Donington Park – Points make prizes

Having gained a good haul of points over the championship leaders in the last two rounds, confidence was really starting to grow in the TF Sport camp with Tom and Ash working really well together both on and off track. They would be faced with a test here though, from ninth on the grid they would have a tough time passing the BMW’s who had a clear pace advantage down the straights.

But it was a challenge that Tom accepted and after fighting hard to get passed the BMW’s he began to set fastest laps! It was impressive pace and was signs that he was now very comfortable with the car, which was a worrying sign for the rest of the GT4 field. By the flag Tom would help bring the car home to fourth place in the GT4 class.

Spa – A dream win

The highlight on the British GT calendar is no doubt the two-hour race around Spa-Franchorchamps. A place that has seen lots of success for the Aston Martin in the past and Tom was keen to continue that trend! Once again though the BMW’s would big the biggest challenge with the nature of the circuit lending itself to them with the two second advantage in qualifying only highlighting that.

Ash would take on the first stint and kept a clean pair of heels running second in the early stages, before pitting from third. Ash had stayed right in contention for the win before handing to Tom who would fight with the McLaren for victory right to the death! After a thrilling contest Tom, would eventually seal victory with a brave move around the outside at the chicane on the penultimate lap to take his first victory in the GT4 class overall.

The result had brought the team up to third in the GT4 Driver’s standings and put them to the top in the Silver Cup.

Brands Hatch – Top of the table

Now right in the fight for the championship Brands gave Tom and Ash a chance to take the lead in the standings. But getting a result alone was going to be difficult with a 20 second success penalty being enforced after victory at Spa.

However, the penalty seemed to spur them on even more and with confidence booming Tom put in what was arguably his most impressive performance. Fighting through the field on a track that is difficult to overtake on Tom would eventually finish third place which would be enough to take the lead in the standings with just one round to go.

Donington Park – A historic day

For the first time this season Tom was now faced with the challenge of holding onto the lead of the championship. Dealing with that pressure, particularly at the last round of the season, is far from easy and with an advantage of just 8.5 points finishing as high as second would see them risk losing it all.

It was a situation that would get anyone nervous, but Tom showed nerves of steel and kept cool under pressure making no mistakes to help bring the car home to a crucial podium finish and seal both the GT4 Driver’s Championship and Silver Cup! It helped form a memorable day for Aston Martin who also took the GT3 Driver’s Championship. The result would also help TF Sport clinch the GT4 Team’s title by just one point in a race that will certainly go down in the history books for the drivers, team and manufacturer!

What next?

The future is certainly bright for Tom Canning. Plans for 2020 are yet to be revealed but he has created a hugely impressive CV for himself in such a short space of time and it will be exciting to see what happens next.

Thoughts from the team

Tom Canning: “For TF Sport to get the win in their debut season with the new GT4 is fantastic. It’s been a faultless year and the team have done an incredible job. It’s been a massive effort between me, Ash, TF Sport and Aston Martin, so I’m honored and delighted. I’d like to say a huge thank you to my family and friends for their support this year and now I look forward to the next chapter!”
TF Sport Director, Tom Ferrier: “They are very young and super-aggressive and yet make very few mistakes. A flawless performance from the pair of them today and I’m delighted for both -  superstars of the future. Congratulations.”