04 October, 2009
Chris Niarchos won the 2009 Citation Cup at Paul Ricard today. The hotly-contested award for non-professional racing drivers is a fantastic achievement for Niarchos who combines his racing with running a multi-national company and, of course, a racing team.
Niarchos and his team-mate Tim Mullen finished this afternoon’s two-hour FIA GT race in fifth place. The racing was incredibly close today, illustrated by the fact that the No.55 Ferrari crossed the line only three seconds behind second place. The sister car of Andrew Kirkaldy and Rob Bell had no luck though when a troublesome wheel-nut sent them tumbling down the rankings during the second round of pit-stops.
Mullen and Bell both had clean starts from their second and ninth place grid spots, maintaining position into the first corner. After a good first stint, Bell came in from eighth place to hand over to Kirkaldy, just 35 minutes into the race. Cho! osing not to take new rubber at this point, Kirkaldy had a tough job in the No.56 Ferrari but the strategy worked and he moved up to fifth place due to the fast stop.
Tim Mullen meanwhile was still going great guns in second place. He came in just before the halfway mark to hand over to Chris Niarchos and pick up a fresh set of tyres for the No.55 Ferrari. Niarchos was then out on track fighting with the professionals.
Kirkaldy completed his run but when he pitted to hand back over to Bell there was a problem with the front left wheel change; the wheel-nut refusing to do it’s job for an excruciating two minutes. Once the wheel was on Bell resumed racing but this delay put No.56 right down the field.
The final pit-stop for the CRS boys came when Niarchos came in from fifth place with just under half an hour to go. Tim Mullen then took the No.55 Ferrari to the chequered flag, finishing just three seconds behind second place.
“I had a great race today,” said Niarchos. “I got swamped by a few pros at one point but I stayed right with them s! o that was a lot of fun. It’s a good feeling to win the Citation Cup; a bit of silverware never goes astray. It means a lot to me as any championship is hard to win. It’s satisfying to beat other drivers; of course it is, that’s why we do it!