First International Podium of the Year
Sunday 3rd May 2009
CRS Racing leaves Silverstone tonight with the first GT silverware of 2009 after Andrew Kirkaldy and Rob Bell finished today’s FIA GT race in third position. Chris Niarchos and Tim Mullen finished in ninth place, which was no reflection of the great pace they showed in both the race and yesterday’s qualifying session.
Tim Mullen started the race in the No.55 Ferrari from third on the grid but the Ulsterman soon took second place, with Rob Bell not far behind in the No.56 CRS car, in fourth place. The positions remained unchanged for most of the first stint, until Tim radioed in just over half an hour into the race to say he had a problem with his power steering. He pitted soon after to hand over to Chris and the power-steering was reset before Niarchos took to the track.
Just before the halfway point of the race Bell pitted from third to hand over to Kirkaldy. Just as the Scot joined the race the safety car came out while a stricken car was cleared from the track. At this point Kirkaldy was fourth and Niarchos was 10th. With the safety car picking up the GT1 race leader, the GT2 field was split up and both CRS Ferraris lost out on time.
After the final pit-stops Bell was back out in No.56 and Mullen was running in No.55. An off for GT2 race leader Gianmaria Bruni boosted the positions of both CRS Ferraris with Bell taking the flag in third place and Mullen in ninth.
At the post-race press conference, Andrew Kirkaldy said: “This is going to be a tough year. Qualifying was incredibly close and a tiny amount of time made a big difference to grid positions. Having said that we made some good improvements to the car over the weekend. The! guys did some great work for us and we’ve proved we are competitive. We definitely have a tough year ahead but it will be a great fight.”
Over in GT3, CRS finished the day as top Ferrari team when Phil Quaife and Robert Hissom brought their Ferrari 430 Scuderia home in 12th place. Chris Goodwin and Chris Niarchos also had a good run but their final result was scuppered by a seat-belt problem. The belts came loose at the end of Goodwin’s run so he pitted early and Niarchos headed out. Unfortunately Niarchos had to then pit again to fix the belts and too much time was lost to challenge for any results.
The CRS GT team will be back on track in two weeks’ time at Adria Raceway in Italy.