23 November, 2008
CRS’ 2008 FIA GT Championship campaign came to a close today with a fourth place finish for Andrew Kirkaldy and Rob Bell and ninth for Chris Niarchos and Tim Mullen.
The race took place in San Luis, Argentina, at a brand new race track; a track that immediately got the thumbs up from all the CRS drivers, not least for its magnificent location. Tim Mullen qualified the no.55 CRS Ferrari for the race and Andrew Kirkaldy followed up in fifth in no.56 after getting a fly in his eye on his out lap!
Both Mullen and Kirkaldy got away well at the start of the two-hour race but, as has happened too many times now, the no.56 Ferrari was tipped into a spin at the first corner leaving Andrew with a lot to do from the back of the field.
As Kirkaldy began the fight back, Mullen was up in second place but as the minutes ticked by he began to mysteriously lose positions until he was right back in eighth place. He clearly had a problem and as soon as he had completed the minimum time in the car he pitted to hand over to Chris Niarchos and allow the team to make the necessary repairs.
“The throttle cable came loose,” explained Niarchos after his run. “This left us with about 50% power during Tim’s stint. We fixed it but it became a bit academic after that as we were three laps down and at that pace you just have to stay out of everyone’s way and end up picking up all sorts of rubbish on your tyres.”
Rob Bell jumped into the no.56 Ferrari for the middle stint of the race to continue the comeback drive. He soon passed Biagi for fifth, then Ruberti for fourth, and Forsten for third, before finding himself in the middle of a three-car battle for second place. It was Bell who broke ranks first, pitting to hand back over to Kirkaldy for the final stint, closely followed by Ruberti who had also become frustrated by the traffic.
The closing stages of the race saw Mullen make his way up to ninth and Kirkaldy running in third on the last lap, preparing to take the last podium spot of the race. Unfortunately the driver of the no.60 Porsche had other ideas and fired Andrew off on the very last lap, leaving him to recover as best he could and take fourth at the finish.
“Yet again we were quick enough but we still seem to have that big target painted on the rear of our car,” said Kirkaldy. “That is four times in four races now but what can you do? I was very surprised when the Porsche hit me at the end. I turned in and ‘bang’ he hit me.”
That’s the end of the 2008 season for the CRS team and what a year i! t has been: Championship wins in British GT and Formula Renault topped off with race wins in FIA GT have combined to make 2008 one hell of a debut season!