12 September, 2010
CRS Racing wrapped up the 2010 Le Mans Series with a fourth place finish at Silverstone today for Andrew Kirkaldy and Tim Mullen. The No.90 CRS Ferrari of Pierre Ehret, Phil Quaife and Pierre Kaffer came home in 13th place after an extended mid-race stop due to a rear suspension problem.
Yesterday’s qualifying session didn’t go according to plan for CRS when the thermostat in the team’s tyre heater failed. This meant that when the tyres were bolted on for Kirkaldy and Kaffer’s qualifying runs they were too hot and there was no time to do anything about it. Both drivers did the best they could but overcooked tyres render a car practically undriveable. With the Stewards consent the team were permitted to scrap those tyres and start the race from the back of the grid on new rubber. The true pace of the CRS cars was shown during this morning’s warm up session when both Ferraris, complete with fresh tyres, topped the timesheets in GT2.
Starting duties were down to Mullen and Kaffer this afternoon. They both had good starts: Mullen moving up to tenth, closely followed by Kaffer in 11th place. By the end of their stints they had moved right up to seventh and ninth places respectively, demonstrating some textbook overtaking manoeuvres.
Kirkaldy and Quaife took over for the second stint and, as the race settled down, they both ran strongly in seventh and ninth places. During the third stint for the No.90 car, Pierre Ehret reported a problem with the left rear corner of the car. He pitted and the team diagnosed a rear suspension problem that required a new upright and driveshaft. The team turned it around in under 20 minutes and the car was immediately back on the pace, albeit further down the order.
At the three-hour mark Mullen was running in fifth, with Ehret in 13th place. An off for a BMW promoted Mullen to fourth just before he handed the car over to Kirkaldy for his final run. The positions remained the same until the end of the race and CRS wrapped up its first season of racing in the Le Mans Series.
“My first stint was okay but I had a lot of traffic, especially on the first five or six laps,” said Quaife. “The middle part of the stint was all good but then towards the end I got stuck behind Coronel who was defending quite aggressively and I didn’t want to risk any damage to the car. My second stint was also good and I was able to put in times on a par with the top cars throughout the run. It’s a shame we didn’t get a result in our home race but overall I’ve had a good first year in the Le Mans Series. I’ve learnt so much by doing a full season of GT2 and I would really like to have a second bash at it next year. In the meantime I’m looking forward to heading off to Zhuhai for the race in November.”
“We were as q uick as ever in the race,” said CRS Team Principal Andrew Kirkaldy. “To come from the back and finish fourth amongst such a high level of competition is good. I think we would have been pleased to hear we would be fourth if someone had said that at the start of the race. Ultimately though we had a couple of problems in the pits, which cost us third place today so we have finished the weekend frustrated. That has been the story of our season really. We have been in a podium position at every race but for one reason or another we have only finished on the podium once.”
Kirkaldy will get another shot at a GT2 podium in November when, along with Pierre Ehret and Phil Quaife, he competes at the Zhuhai 1000kms. Before then though the CRS Racing team is off to Brands Hatch for the next round of the International GT Open next weekend.