The 17-year old McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner and BRDC SuperStar produced a great lap in qualifying to line up fifth in the Silver Cup class, 13th overall, and fastest of the four Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entries.
However, torrential rain before the first race of the weekend made conditions difficult, with the grid starting behind the Safety Car in the opening stages. Once racing laps got underway, Tom swiftly made his way through the field, but was hampered when he was given a ten-second penalty for causing a collision.
“It was tough,” he said. “In qualifying I didn’t produce a perfect lap, but we had a decent position for race one. The rain played into our favour and we managed to get up quite high in the first half but then we got a penalty at our pit stop for a move which I don’t think was my fault. I think it was harsh but at the end of the day that’s the decision they came to so it is what it is, but it ruined what could have been a good result.”
That was compounded further when team-mate Shae Davies was given a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release in the pits, dropping the Australian down the order, meaning the pair were eventually classified sixth in class.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s race was tougher for the pair as they lined up at the back of the field, eventually fighting through to another sixth-place Silver Cup class finish. “Shae started on the back row and being handed the car as far back as we were it was hard to come through, especially as everyone was spread out,” said Tom.
“It’s not the way we wanted to end the season, but we had decent pace at times and being the highest placed WRT car in qualifying was good as well. It’s another track learnt for me which is good experience for the future, and it was a fun weekend, just a shame about the results.”
Reflecting on his first year in endurance racing after success in single-seaters, Tom remains pragmatic about his performance and opportunities for the future. “It’s been a frustrating year,” he said. “I’d like to have done better in terms of results, but it is a hard championship, so you have to look at the positives.
“At some rounds we have had good pace, but every time we’ve been on for a good result, we’ve had a penalty, but hopefully we can get something good next year. I’d like to do more driving because we only signed with WRT at the last minute, so I didn’t get any testing. That is hard for me as some of the other drivers are doing the Endurance Cup and ADAC GT Masters, so it is difficult to compete with them.”
He was also full of praise for the team and its drivers, making the most of the opportunities provided to him across the season. “WRT is a really professional outfit, so it’s been great to work with them and learn from the drivers in the team,” he said. “It’s brought me on a lot as a driver, I’ve learned some things and a year of GT racing under my belt has been great. I still have a lot to learn but I’ve picked up lots and hopefully I can carry that over into next year.”
Tom will now focus on his plans for the 2020 season as he continues to make a name for himself on the international stage.