I covered the whole series for Salih Yoluc, a Turkish driver new to the GT Open series and the majority of the circuits we would visit over the season. Salih raced in TF Sport's #34 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 car alongside Euan Hankey, an established pairing with a great rapport.
Estoril is a tricky circuit to master, especially on your first visit. The front engined Aston makes things even more difficult as the tendency to understeer with the engine's weight at the front pulling it forward under braking makes the twisty circuit a bit more challenging.
The weather was fantastic on day one, lovely dry conditions saw the #34 car improve lap after lap after lap with times tumbling as the team found the speed and set up that worked around the Portuguese circuit.
Free practice 2 saw the car dialled in even more and the times were quick enough to threaten the fastest cars on the grid. This was no mean feat considering the quality and experience Salih was competing against including the likes of Tappy, Keen, Parente and Ramos to name a few.
At the end of day one, the team and drivers were in buoyant mood, looking forward to day two that would bring Qualifying 1 and Race 1. A few more set up tweeaks and the car would be good to go.
Through the night the mountains insisted that the water in the air became water on the track and the day started with a very greasy circuit. Earlier sessions created a dry line but the painted lines and rumble strips were not to be trifled with.
One the third lap, and last one before new rubber went on, Salih exited the long hairpin (Turn 6) carrying fantastic speed. His right rear touched the paint, losing traction. This slid the back of the car out onto the soaking astroturf spinning the rear wheels up. When the car regained grip, it was immediate and unforgiving. The car catapulted itself into the armco with incredible speed. The result was un-repairable damage to the chassis and engine bringing a promising opening weekend to a premature end.