03 March, 2010
The CRS Racing LMS squad has been out in full force for two days at Paul Ricard, taking part in the official Le Mans Series pre-season test. Andrew Kirkaldy, Tim Mullen and Nicola Larini drove the 2010-spec No.91 CRS Ferrari 430. Pierre Ehret, Phil Quaife and Pierre Kaffer drove the Michelotto test car and will soon get their hands on the No.90 CRS Ferrari, which is being prepared for the new season.
Despite the bitterly cold weather, the team managed to complete its test programme and is now looking forward to what promises to be a competitive first season in the Le Mans Series.
This test was the first opportunity for CRS to run the Ferrari 430s in the new 2010 specification. Andrew Kirkaldy, who ran in second place for most of the first session on Sunday, explains the changes.
“The 2010 car has bigger tyres, an engine upgrade and a higher weight limit,” he said. “It definitely feels good and now we just need to do some more work on the set-up. Overall this has been a useful test for us. We have quite a few new team members and it has been good to see them all working together well from day one.”
After racing Ferrari 430s for many years Tim Mullen knows the car inside and out so he was keen to try out the new specification Ferrari.
“We had a good day with the new car on Sunday but there is always room for improvement,” said Tim. “The thing we need to work on is getting the right balance but all in all the new spec seems promising. I had some contact from a prototype on Sunday afternoon, which stopped us for a short while but we were back on track pretty quickly and able to complete our programme.”
Nicola Larini was back with CRS after his successful run at Ricard before Christmas in the Sportscar Winter Series.
“I’m here to learn about the Ferrari 430,” said the Italian. “I am spending time gathering as much information as I can so I can get the most out of the car. I am learning so much and making sure I am no trouble for the team. The really new thing for me is having to drive with one eye on the race track and one eye on my mirror as I am not used to sharing the track with cars that are more than 10 seconds a lap quicker.”
For Pierre Ehret this test is the first time he has driven at Paul Ricard.
“I have never raced here before so this is my first visit to Ricard,” he said. “I like the circuit a lot but there is a lot to learn. The track is very wide so you have to be very careful to accurately place the car at all times to make the most of the lap.”
The test gave Phil Quaife his first opportunity to get back behind the wheel of the GT2 Ferrari since the Spa 24 Hours last year.
“The car felt good right away,” said Phil. “I’m happy to be running in the Le Mans Series this year, especially when I look at the GT2 entry list and see the people I am up against. I certainly didn’t expect to be racing against people like Jean Alesi and Giancarlo Fisichella this year! The added element of running with prototypes keeps it interesting too, although I am already in the habit of using my mirrors so they haven’t caught me out.”
Pierre Kaffer has driven for many Ferrari teams and is already feeling at home with CRS Racing.
“It’s good to see that all the Ferrari teams have the same passion,” said Pierre. “I am finding CRS to be a very professional and friendly team that is very focussed, which I like. I have know their Chief Engineer, Chris Gorne, for many years so it is good to work with him again. Unfortunately we don’t have our race car yet so we have had to use the test car here but we have made good progress today. The relationship between Pierre Ehret, Phil Quaife and myself is gelling well and I think it is a very good combination. The new car definitely seems a lot better than the old one; there is more grip overall. It is a fun car to drive and never fails to make me smile.”