25 October, 2009
Andrew Kirkaldy and Rob Bell rounded off the 2009 FIA GT Championship season with a podium finish at Zolder in Belgium today.
The two CRS Ferraris started the FIA GT race from sixth and seventh on the grid, with Antonio Garcia in No.55 and Rob Bell in No.56. Bell got the jump on Garcia as the race went green and both drivers then settled into a very good race pace. Garcia was the first to stop, handing over to Tim Mullen after 45 minutes. Bell then pitted in No.56 and Andrew Kirkaldy took to the track.
The race was looking good at half-distance with both Kirkaldy and Mullen on maximum attack. After making light work of passing another Ferrari, Mullen was chasing down a Porsche when he radioed in to say his water temperatures were rapidly rising.
“I had a bit of contact with another car and that loosened my door,” said Mullen. “I had to keep trying to close it as I went along the straights, which I managed to do eventually but it knocked me out of my rhythm a bit. I then caught a Porsche but as we went through the first chicane I was unsighted and clobbered the kerb.”
Unfortunately the kerb damaged Tim’s radiator and all he could do was come back to the pits and retire.
At this point in the race there was an information blackout when the timing screens froze and then went off completely. Kirkaldy in the meantime was pressing on and running very strongly in second place. After the final run of pit-stops Bell was back in the car and running in third place behind Westbrook’s Porsche and Ruberti’s Ferrari. The positions held until the end of the race so Bell and Kirkaldy took their third podium finish of the season.
“It has been a very hard season for us for many reasons,” said Bell in the post-race press conference. “This was actually a very quiet race for us. We started well, passed a few cars and rounded the season off the season on a high so we can’t really ask for more than that.”
Andrew Kirkaldy continued: “The pit crew did a great job today and our strategy worked very well. Porsche were very clever this weekend with their ‘getting rid of weight’ strategy so we were pretty handicapped from that perspective. In spite of all that we were almost in contention for the win. If the race had gone on any longer who knows what might have happened?”