Team Turkey is expecting to face a “difficult” challenge as it attempts to defend its FIA GT Nations Cup title in the Vallelunga FIA Motorsport Games this weekend.
The Turkish driver lineup of Ayhancan Guven and Salih Yoluc is unchanged from last year, when it won the nation-based competition in Bahrain.
However, the pair are in a different car having switched from a Mercedes-AMG GT3 prepared by Ram Racing to an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 run by TF Sport.
Yoluc put the Aston second on the grid for Saturday afternoon’s first qualifying race, while Guven qualified 16th for the second race of the weekend on Sunday.
These two races will then determine the grid for the medal-paying main event on Sunday afternoon.
“This year we have more teams and a higher competition level,” Guven told Sportscar365. “Japan looks strong this year. Last year, France and Russia were strong too.
“We are strong again, so I think we have a good chance, but it will be a really difficult weekend in the tough conditions.
“On Sunday, we have a lot of rain coming, so we don’t know what’s going to happen there.
“The balance of the car is really good, but we were struggling with the tire temperatures. We can’t keep the tire temperature high.
“I think today we can adapt the car for other tire pressures, but it will be a hard fight.”
TF Sport team principal Tom Ferrier said that while he hopes the Aston can challenge for medals, he doesn’t think the 2.5-mile Vallelunga circuit is the best track for the car.
“It’s is a funny little track,” suggested Ferrier. “I’d say it’s a Porsche circuit, if anything, with all the hairpins near the end of the lap.
“We tested here in the middle of August. It helped in terms of the drivers, knowing where the circuit goes.
“We’re quite a long way away from the setup that we tested here with earlier in the year. Typically, if you do a test day and put the same settings back on the car, it rarely works in the race weekend. But I think we’ll be fine here.”
Guven explained that last year’s FIA GT Nations Cup victory was well-received in Turkey and that it has helped build a following back home for the expanded FIA Motorsport Games format.
“This year, we have much more interest heading into the event,” he said. “The race will be live-streamed in Turkey tomorrow, so it is getting better.
“Now, in Turkey, we are improving and are producing a good generation of drivers. People are starting to watch races because they recognize some of the people racing in GT series.
“For them, it’s nice to watch some Turkish drivers. Normally they follow F1, but there aren’t any Turkish drivers or teams. Now, there are some Turkish guys in motorsport.
“For us, it’s also good because we have some strong support from home, and I think [Turkey] now has a strong future in racing.”