09 May, 2010
CRS Racing finished a chaotic Spa 1000kms in sixth and 15th positions respectively for Kirkaldy/Mullen and Ehret/Quaife/Kaffer. The No.91 Ferrari of Kirkaldy and Mullen was leading the race when a power cut hit Spa after just one and a half hours of racing. In an event peppered with safety cars, confusion reigned supreme and the final result will be debated for a long time to come.
Tim Mullen and Pierre Kaffer both had good starts when the race got underway at 1130hrs. They ran steadily in third and fourth places while all the early race drama was reserved for the LMP cars that seemed to be going off all over the place. The tricky conditions were down to light rain falling during the opening phase of the race and another LMP car going off just ten minutes shy of the one-hour mark brought the safety car out for a second time. CRS took the opportunity to pit both cars so when the race went green again Andrew Ki! rkaldy was at the wheel of the No.91 Ferrari and Kaffer was still in No.90 to complete a double stint.
“It wasn’t raining too much,” said Mullen. “The unfortunate thing though was that it was wettest at Eau Rouge. Pierre and I were closely matched throughout the stint, with him quicker than me in some parts and me faster than him in others.”
One and a half hours into the race the trouble began for the No.90 Ferrari. Contact with a BMW left Kaffer with a damaged radiator so he had to pit for repairs. Kirkaldy meanwhile was going great guns in No.91 and was leading the race.
At the two-hour mark Kirkaldy was still in the GT2 lead and Pierre Ehret was strapped into the repaired No.90 Ferrari, ready to rejoin the race. Just as he headed out onto the track the race was red-flagged.
A local power cut had disabled the timing systems at Spa a few minutes earlier and it was decided that the race would have to stop until the problem was fixed. Ehret had only just joined so he was okay but Kirkaldy was due for a pit stop as he was almost out of fuel. When the race eventually re-started over 30 minutes later everyone crossed their fingers, hoping that Kirkaldy would have enough fuel to make it around to the pit lane.
“At the restart I could barely get up the hill at Eau Rouge,” he said. “Once I made it to the top I stuck it in sixth gear and cruised around the lap so I used as little fuel as possible.”
Tim Mullen jumped into the No.91 car whilst Pierre Ehret continued his run in No.9o after having to stop briefly again to finish off the repair job.
With three hours of the race left to run, Tim Mullen was running in fourth place, after losing a little time when he got a stop-go penalty for crossing the line at Eau Rouge. At the end of his stint he handed back over to Kirkaldy, who had a good run up to third place before Mullen jumped in again for the final hour.
Phil Quaife meanwhile had a good run on the No.90 Ferrari, although the car was well down the order after its trip to the pits earlier in the race.
“It seems that we also suffered damage to the front splitter so our aero was affec! ted,” explained Quaife. “I was getting more and more unde rsteer as I went on which in turn hurts the tyres so it was quite hard work. I had a few good battles out there but there was no point taking any risks in the position we were in. It was all about getting miles under our belt and bringing it home for the team.”
There will be a lot written about Spa in the days to come and it will be remembered as the race where the lights went out.
“There is still a lot to be debated about this race,” said CRS Managing Director Mark Busfield. “It might be a late night though as every time we go to Race Control there is a very long queue!”
After completing six race weekends on the trot, from Formula Renault to Open GT and the Le Mans Series, the CRS Racing team is heading home for a well-earned weekend off.