19 October, 2008
The CRS Ferrari of Andrew Kirkaldy and Rob Bell failed to finish round nine of the FIA GT Championship at Zolder today after being taken off at the start of the two-hour race. Tim Mullen and James Sutton, in the sister CRS Ferrari salvaged sixth place after yesterday’s qualifying disasters which saw them start in ninth place today. The team is now in fourth place in the Championship and is left with a lot of work to do at the season finale in Argentina.
Andrew Kirkaldy’s pole position advantage was wiped out when Rob Bell was taken out at the first corner of the race. As he came into the first turn he received a tap from behind and then a big hit that sent him off the track and into retirement. When the car was returned after the race the team could clearly see it had been hit on all four corners so Rob hadn’t stood a chance.
“It’s a massive disappointment as Andrew and I were on for a win today,” said Rob. “The car has been fantastic all weekend and we had the right strategy for the race. There was nothing I could do at the first corner. The first hit spun me around and the next one fired me off.”
Tim Mullen made a good start in no.55 but fell back a few laps in when he outbraked himself at the end of the lap and had to drive through the pit-lane. He handed over to James Sutton around 50 minutes into the race who went out and did a professional job on his first outing for the FIA GT arm of the CRS team.
“There was a lot of pushing and shoving at the start,” said Tim. “I got hit so hard from behind I thought I’d get whiplash! The car was running well today but I outbraked myself when the tyres weren’t quite up to temperature and had no choice but to head into the pit lane. After that we were playing catch-up. This hasn’t been one of my favourite weekends and I’m not happy to have to settle for sixth but hopefully our luck will change in Argentina.”
CRS Team Director and pole position man Andrew Kirkaldy was philosophical after the race.
“We’re still waiting for the luck to go our way in this Championship,” he said. “It seems that someone else is getting our share. This result pretty much ruins our hopes of second place in the Championship which is pretty hard to swallow when we have had such good pace all weekend. We’ll go to Argentina now and hope we can turn it all around and end our FIA GT year on a high note.”
There is only one more race to go in the 2008 FIA GT Championship; this takes place in San Luis, Argentina, in five weeks time.