Dramatic Start to GTO Season
Sunday 18th April 2010
The International GT Open season started with a bang for CRS Racing when Chris Niarchos was left with nowhere to go at the first corner of race one. The conditions in Valencia were tricky and the race was to start on a drying track but on the formation lap a few cars, include the pole position car, went off so as the field came through to the start/finish line the start was aborted.
“The guy who started way back in 24th didn’t realised the start had been aborted,” said Niarchos. “He flew past me at full race speed as we were all going steady at about 50kph. He spun going into turn one and as I came around he came right across my path, leaving me with no option other than to T-bone him.”
Klaas Hummel in the No.90 Ferrari managed to avoid the drama and came home in 20th place.
The first corner accident caused significant damage to the front end of the No.91 CRS Ferrari so it was a very late night for the team who worked until 2am to fix it.
Race two took place this afternoon in similar conditions but all the drivers were paying attention today so the start was clean. Tim Mullen started in the No.91 car which had been mended as much as possible but the damage had taken away part of the inside of the front of the car.
“This meant there was a howling gale blowing under the bonnet,” said CRS MD Mark Busfield. “The car was mechanically sound but aerodynamically it was pretty poorly. The net result of this was that the back of the bonnet started to lift, obscuring Tim’s vision.”
“The bonnet came up about six or seven inches,” said Mullen. “And when you sit as low as I do in the car it makes a big difference. I h! ad to try and lift myself up so that I could see. It really wasn’t ideal as being able to see does really help when you’re driving a racing car!”
Between Tim and Chris they pulled in a seventh place finish that was commendable considering that the odds were against them. The sister Ferrari of Chris Goodwin didn’t fare so well. Goodwin lost a few places at the start but soon fought his way back through. Later, with Hummel back behind the wheel, going great guns, he braked a bit late for turn eight and got beached in the gravel, which ended their race.
“All in all it has been an interesting but frustrating first weekend in GT Open,” said Niarchos. “Race two was definitely one of the hardest drives of my life because, in addition to the bonnet obscuring our vision, the damage meant that we had no front end grip. Instead of downforce we had lift! It was good to resurrect some points! and I want to pay a huge credit to the guys as they were the real he roes of the weekend. They really did an exceptional job. It’s annoying that we had the accident in race one but the in race two that same guy was running in fifth place when the guy in sixth fired him off so I guess you can say that what goes around comes around!”
Chris has now left Valencia and is hurtling towards London in his hire car. It’s going to be an epic road trip for Chris, Tim Mullen, Mark Busfield and Chris’ son, Xander. Let’s hope they have a lot of sweets to get them through the journey!