Yoluc bags Podium Place at Donington Park
Salih Yoluc continued his rapid progress as a GT driver this weekend by netting his third piece of silverware this season, with a third place in the penultimate round of the GT Cup at Donington Park (September 20-21). Partnered with professional driver Euan Hankey, the pair notched up their third podium in only two rounds as Yoluc’s abilities as a driver continue to develop.
The excitement and anticipation of Qualifying was to be shoe-horned in to an action packed twelve minutes, as the stricken Porsche 997 RSR of Iain Dockerill at Redgate, caused the first eight minutes of the 20-minute session to be undertaken behind the Safety Car.
However, once the Safety Car pulled in and Donington Park went green, the #87 Ginetta G50 of Ian Payne and David Bearman was the first to set the benchmark in GTA with a 1:44.264. Yoluc set his own benchmark shortly after with a 1:42.855 effort, taking provisional pole in the process.
As the circuit warmed and grip increased, the times tumbled, with everyone setting faster laps and sectors. The #10 Lotus Evora of Adrian Lester and Andrew Bentley displaced Yoluc at the top the timesheets, followed by 2013 GTA champion Jeff Wyatt in the #1 BMW M3 GTR.
Yoluc was in good company and as the session neared it’s completion, it became a close fight between himself and the #87 Payne/Bearman Ginetta G50 for top honours. With just two minutes left on the clock, Payne/Bearman laid down a 1:38.326 to snatch top spot, with Yoluc taking a close second place, missing out on pole by a mere 0.103s.
QUALIFYING RESULT: HANKEY / YOLUC - P2 [GTA]
As the lights went green for the start of Race 1, Yoluc consolidated his second position, unable to make a move on the GTA leader due to the GTO class car of Tim Hood and Steve Glynn separating them. An early scuffle between David Walley’s Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car and Graham Davidson’s Noble M400 at the Melbourne hairpin on lap two brought out the Safety Car, and the #10 Lotus Evora of Lester and Bentley also stuck in the gravel on the exit of Coppice.
Once the cars and debris had been cleared, the race went green at the start of lap 4. Yoluc found himself on the back foot at the restart, defending hard from the #15 Porsche 996 of Broster/Clutton. Despite his best efforts, shaking their attention proved difficult and Yoluc had to concede the position towards the end of the lap.With the pit window fast approaching, the first three runners in GTA were nose to tail in a fascinating battle for the class lead. Yoluc chased down Broster/Clutton and the leader, Payne/Bearman, hounding them with his Optimum prepared Ginetta. As the trio rounded Goddards, it was Broster/Clutton who were first to make their mandatory pit stop.
With a clear run now to the leader of GTA, rising Turkish star, Yoluc knew he needed to press on and take advantage of the clear track. However, as a result of his pressing, Yoluc pushed too hard and an unfortunate spin at Redgate beached his G55 in the gravel.
Unable to rejoin the race, Yoluc retired the Ginetta, with Hankey helpless to aid his co-driver.
RACE 1 RESULT: HANKEY / YOLUC - DNF [GTA]
Sunday morning brought cold but bright weather to the East Leicestershire track for Qualifying 2. The competitive GTA field started where it left off the day previous, exchanging times at a rapid rate, with each drive topping the times; it really was anyone’s guess who would come out on top.
Despite setting a blistering provisional pole lap (1:38.081), Yoluc was denied top spot by the #50 BMW M3 of Mark Litherland who’s 1:37.999 lap demoted the Optimum ace to second, which in turn knocked Payne/Bearman onto the second row.
QUALIFYING RESULT: YOLUC - P2 [GTA]
Yoluc made the dream start to Race 2, snatching the lead on the opening lap with an audacious move on Litherland’s BMW into the Fogarty Esses. Almost on cue, the Safety Car would once again feature before the start of the second lap to rescue the stranded Porsche 997 RSR of Iain Dockerill at Redgate.
With the Porsche removed, the race resumed on lap three and the lead group in GTA (Yoluc, Tompkins and Bearman) began a fast paced game of cat and mouse, as each driver traded times and personal best sectors, all within one tenth of one another.
The high speed battle continued all the way through until lap seven, when Yoluc made an unusual error at the Esses, allowing Ben Tompkins’ #88 Ginetta G50 to slip it’s way past at the subsequent Melbourne Hairpin, closely followed by the GTO class Radical of Harry Blazer.
With a lot of work to do, Yoluc put in a dogged display and turned his attention towards the fast-approaching G50 of Bearman. A fantastic battle ensued, with Bearman and Yoluc trading places throughout the remaining laps of the race, until Bearman managed to get the better of the Optimum Ginetta after the lead GTO cars pushed Yoluc wide at Redgate.
The pair then began setting personal bests once again as they worked in tandem to try and catch the leading G50 of Tompkins. However, time would not be on their side and at the flag, the trio were just 2.5s apart, with Yoluc an impressive third.
RACE 2 RESULT: YOLUC - P3 [GTA]
Fastest laps from Race 2 decided the start positions for Race 3 and with Yoluc spending most of the race in the shadow of Bearman’s G50, his best lap would only be sufficient for fifth on the grid.
As with the previous two races, the final race of the weekend was a hard fought affair. Litherland, Payne and Yoluc engaged in a race long battle for the final place on the podium, which kept the attending crowd excited until the midpoint when Yoluc spun on lap nine.
In his eagerness to impress upon his rivals ahead, a slip at the Melbourne Hairpin cost Yoluc 20s and dropped him to seventh. Yoluc kept his head and put in a spirited fight back, getting back on the front-running pace, which allowed him to benefit from a coming together between Bentley and Litherland.
Now fifth, Yoluc pushed on and reeled in the far quicker GTO class Ferrari 430 Scuderia of Peter Parsons. At the flag, Yoluc managed to shave an impressive 8 seconds off the Ferrari, but remained fifth in his GTA class.
RACE 3 RESULT: YOLUC - P5 [GTA]
Shaun Goff – Team Principal
“From the moment he joined the team, Salih has worked very hard with driver coach Euan Hankey and ourselves to get up to speed and achieve better lap times. Initially, he would qualify well, but then go backwards on the first lap, which made it tough to try and gain the places back. However, this weekend he turned a corner in his development, not only qualifying well, but maintaining or moving up the order on the first lap. He has progressed fantastically with this and we now expect him to be starting on the front row at his favourite circuit Oulton Park in a few weeks time. Race craft, on the other hand, has not been quite so easy to master. However, this is something that comes with time and race experience and lets not forget this is only his third race weekend! As a whole, from where we were only a few months ago pace-wise, to now challenging for pole-positions and race wins, is great. More podiums at Oulton Park have to be the minimum goal. We have an ambitious group here and we must always look to win every race, so we will now firmly set our sights on a race win at the final round.”
“I feel like I have made massive improvements since I entered my first ever race at the beginning of summer. Shaun (Goff) and the guys at Optimum have been a huge help and, of course, I owe a lot of this improvement due to the coaching and help I have received from teammate Euan Hankey. I was disappointed to DNF in Race 1. It was a very close battle between P1, P2 and myself for the duration of the race; it was a bit intense, but fun at the same time. I thought I could have managed more than third place this weekend, but being so new to racing, it is all experience for me and we all believe I have learnt and experienced lots in two days, so overall we're happy.”
“I'm really happy with Salih's progress so far. At Silverstone he qualified P2 but was 1.4 seconds off P1. This weekend at Donington, he qualified again in P2, but this time less than a tenth off. We can certainly see that his speed and pace is getting better and better, especially as this is only his third ever race weekend in comparison to his competitors who are far more experienced. I wasn't disappointed at all after Race 1 in terms of not getting a drive, as I'm there to support and help Salih improve. We watched the onboard video together afterwards and discussed what he could of done differently. I have no doubts he will now have the knowledge to know what to do if something similar should happen again. This weekend, was a weekend of 'firsts' for Salih. He learnt how to defend and why you have to and when is the right and wrong time to defend your line. He also learnt how to attack and to be much more comfortable with getting extremely close to other cars under the heat of battle. So I can 100% say he has come away a much better and more experienced driver, even though the results and his feelings may not demonstrate that."
ROUNDS 19 & 20 Oulton Park International Cheshire 25TH OCTOBER 2014