24 April, 2009
The long off-season is finally over as the FIA GT and FIA GT3 Championships race into action next weekend at Silverstone. It is going to be a busy weekend for CRS Racing, with many new challenges to face as the team adapts to running in two series in one race weekend.
In GT2 little has changed, apart from the level of ambition. Chris Niarchos and Tim Mullen team up again in GT2 Ferrari No.55, while Andrew Kirkaldy and Rob Bell are together in No.56. In terms of success, 2008 produced some top results for the fledgling CRS team, but in 2009 the team has its sights firmly set on the championship title.
“We want to win the FIA GT title this year,” said CRS Team Director, Andrew Kirkaldy. “We have as good a chance as anyone. The opposition are hard to read at the moment as we haven’t done much testing alongside them but judging by our performance towards the end of last season we are as quic! k as anybody!”
Kirkaldy also has a personal target at Silverstone: to get his fourth GT2 pole position in a row at this event. A stunning lap last year gave the Scot the hat trick but can he make it four-in-a-row next weekend?
The FIA GT3 Championship is new to CRS but the GT3 category isn’t. As the current British GT Team Champions, CRS knows a thing or two about GT3 racing. The team is thrilled to be running the brand new Ferrari 430 Scuderia, and with a top driver line-up has high expectations for some good results this year.
The pair of Scuderias will only arrive next week so the team will have to learn fast, but luckily Andrew Kirkaldy has some insider knowledge as he tested the car at Imola a few weeks ago.
CRS GT3 Ferrari No.56 will be raced by Robert Hissom and Phil Quaife; both drivers who know the GT3 Championship well. No.55’s line-up is Klaas Hummel and Chris Goodwin. Unfortunately Klaas has clashi! ng commitments during the Silverstone weekend so the team has made a substitution: Chris Niarchos! Chris is pretty handy in a Ferrari so it made sense for him to step in, although this means the CRS Team Principal is going to have a very busy weekend.
“It was a great privilege when Klaas (Hummel) asked me to take his GT3 seat for this race,” said Chris. “GT3 is incredibly competitive but usually, the more I drive the better I get, so this could be really good. I think Chris (Goodwin) and I will make a strong pairing.”
As Team Principal at CRS, Chris has seen his team grow over the last 12 months, not in terms of size, but in level of performance, and he’s confident that 2009 will be a vintage year for the team.
“This year our expectations are higher but so is our confidence level,” he said. “We know where we made mistakes last year but we have made changes and are now stronger than ! ever. Now we are into year two, the team infrastructure is all f ully set-up and running smoothly. It has certainly been good to go off and do our pre-season testing without having to worry about whether or not the walls are up in the workshop or the desks have arrived!”
The FIA GT race takes place on Sunday 3 May at 1415hrs. The GT3 racing season starts earlier though on Saturday with race one at 1430hrs. Race two is on Sunday at 1130hrs.