SRT opens with sixth place in FIA GT Silverstone
SILVERSTONE. The opening round of the prestigious FIA GT Championship took place at Silverstone this weekend. SRT is taking part in the championship for the third consecutive season. Bert Longin and James Ruffier took sixth place in the opening race, "the highest possible for us", a humble Patrick Selleslagh admitted after the race. SRT is facing a really busy month of May, with races in Dijon and Magny-Cours for the FFSA GT Championship and of course the second race of the FIA in Adria, Italy.
The FIA GT season kicked off on Friday. The competitors in the prestigious GT championship had their first 80 minute long free practice session on the Silverstone circuit and Bert Longin and James Ruffier ended the session in a decent fifth place in their SRT Corvette.
"But regardless of the result the most important thing was to drive trouble- free for 80 minutes and find a good set-up", explained Bert Longin. "Things went well for me, even though we still have to search for a good seating position considering the difference in length between me and James, as the seat comfort is important for both drivers." For James Ruffier it was a real baptism of fire, as the French European GT3 champion had never been in a Corvette. "Super..." was his comment after his first stint. Bert Longin posted a strong 1:46.9 in the final minutes of the session, which meant SRT was in the top 5 straight away.
On Saturday morning the second free practice took place, but the most important mission on Saturday was the qualifying session that decided the starting order for the race. Bert Longin took the SRT Corvette to seventh place in the session. "But I made a really rookie error", admitted the driver from Leuven. "I spun on my first flying lap and blew my chances to improve. Position five would have been a real possibility."
Patrick Selleslagh: "The car is very good, we have worked hard and I'm quite positive about our chances for the race. We are where we hoped to be and our two drivers are equally matched, so fingers crossed for tomorrow."
The race itself went smoothly for SRT. Bert Longin had a great start, "and I was able to catch up with the Corvettes of Moreau and Hezemans", Longin looks back at his stint. "My rhythm was good right from the start and the car felt fine as well. But what happened then was really appalling. We had just completed the driver change and the safety car came out on the track. Instead of the cars lining up behind it, lots of bizarre things happened and all of a sudden we were more than 20 seconds behind the cars ahead of us. Incomprehensible for a series on the level of the FIA GT...For James there was nothing more to do than to make no mistakes and secure sixth place."
Patrick Selleslagh: "My drivers really did well and considering the circumstances and the safety car chaos I think we can be satisfied with the outcome of this race. The new technical regulations also mean each team has to use the same rubber, but the tyres on the Corvette seem to have had the best quite fast. It is not an ideal situation, but we expect it will be better in the next races."