THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YET The CR Scuderia team faces its toughest test yet next week in the shape of the ‘Total 24 Hours of Spa'. The epic race through the Ardennes is a true test of drivers, cars and teams; the combination of one of the...
THE GREATEST CHALLENGE YET
The CR Scuderia team faces its toughest test yet next week in the shape of the ‘Total 24 Hours of Spa'. The epic race through the Ardennes is a true test of drivers, cars and teams; the combination of one of the most daunting racing circuits in the world and rapidly changing weather conditions providing the setting for a classic battle between the FIA GT competitors every year.
The Spa 24 Hours is vitally important to each team's championship campaign as points can be scored at the six, 12 and 24 hour marks. To gain the maximum from this event you have to be at the front all the way.
CR Scuderia has entered a strong driver line-up comprising Chris Niarchos, Tim Mullen, Andrea Piccini and Gordon Shedden in CRS Ferrari no.55.
"We can be as competitive as any other car out there," said Niarchos. "Three of the four drivers in the no.55 car have extensive experience of running successfully in 24 hour races; myself, Tim and Andrea understand the dynamics of it and I'm sure that Gordon will find his place fast and settle in. It's about preservation of equipment, not all out speed, and I think we are all smart enough to do a great job at Spa."
CRS Ferrari no.56 will be raced by Andrew Kirkaldy, Rob Bell and Dirk Mueller, with James Sutton as reserve.
"I think we have a very strong line-up with Rob and Dirk and it's great to have such a strong reserve in James," Kirkaldy commented. "All of us are quick, we all know Spa and we all know the Ferrari 430 so there's no reason why we can't get a good result. As always with these 24-hour events you need things to go your way but we ha ve all the right ingredients so let's see what we can make out of it."
This is the first 24 hour race for CRS but by no means the first for all the experienced personnel on the team. Between them they have competed in and won, both at Spa and in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Chris Niarchos is confident that his team can put on a great show at Spa.
"I have very high expectations for the team," he said. "I'm not saying that to apply pressure; 24 hour races are what they are and of course you need a bit of luck sometimes, but we are more than ready for the challenge. Aside from a top driver line-up, the engineers standing behind the cars all know what's required. As a team we may not have done a 24 hour race before but as individuals we have proven ourselves in this field. The competition is going to be extremely tough - we are up against some of the biggest names in GT2 - but we are going to go out there and do a soli d job, making sure we don't over-drive as it's a long 24 hours."
The Spa event starts next Wednesday with the traditional parade of GT cars from the circuit into Spa town, where the drivers take part in an autograph session before heading off to the Casino for their pre-race briefing. Then it's a quick blast back up to the circuit to give the cars back to the crews who will prepare them for the first day of running on Thursday. Qualifying takes place on Thursday night and Friday morning, with the pole time traditionally being set at night, and then the fun really starts when the big race gets underway at 1600hrs on Saturday.
The FIA GT Championship is broadcast in the UK on Motors TV with highlights programming on Sky Sports and Channel 4. The live coverage of the Spa 24 Hours is intermittent so please check TV listings on the day for up-to-date timings.