TOP SIX FINISH FOR QUAIFE ON SPA 24 HOURS DEBUT Phil Quaife marked his first ever appearance at the Spa 24 Hours with a faultless drive to help the ...
TOP SIX FINISH FOR QUAIFE ON SPA 24 HOURS DEBUT
Phil Quaife marked his first ever appearance at the Spa 24 Hours with a faultless drive to help the #55 CRS Racing Ferrari 430 Scuderia he shared with Chris Niarchos, Tim Mullen and Chris Goodwin to sixth-in-class and ninth overall at the iconic Belgian circuit.
At a race that the Kent-based driver described as the most high-profile he has ever competed in, the 23-year-old produced a mature performance in difficult, changeable conditions to reward the faith the British team had placed in him.
Team-mate Mullen qualified the Ferrari on the front row of the GT2 category in a session which was badly affected by rain, and then made a good start to the race on Saturday. He was unable to stay with the class leaders after tyre problems, but he and then Niarchos, negotiated the dry/wet conditions with little trouble in the opening hours of the race.
A problem restarting the car at the beginning of Goodwin's first stint then cost the team eleven minutes and saw them drop down the order, despite the CRS mechanics doing a sterling job to replace the starter motor in such a short space of time.
The rain had ceased by the time of Quaife's first stint and the team were now running on slick tyres. As darkness fell and with temperatures having dropped, there was just a single dry line on track, with the rest of the circuit remaining extremely wet, and the BRDC Rising Star drove a fast, consistent, error-free stint in tricky conditions.
After Quaife's strong double-stint, the team continued to climb back through the field throughout the night and Phil was back in the car at day-break on Sunday morning. Another strong spell helped the squad back into the top six, but trouble struck at lunchtime as Phil's final stint saw him develop an engine misfire.
Again the CRS pit crew did an excellent job to solve the problem in the garage, losing just a handful of laps, and although a less severe version of the problem re-occurred in the closing stages of the race, the team opted to continue on track to ensure a top ten overall finish and a fine sixth place in the highly-competitive GT2 category.
"The race was a superb experience for me and I think we all did a good job throughout the weekend," said Quaife. "There wasn't a single spin, off or contact from any of the drivers, which was no mean feat in the conditions, and when we had a couple of technical problems the boys in the pits reacted brilliantly.
"I'd like to thank the team and especially Chris Niarchos, Andrew Kirkaldy and Malcolm Swetnam for putting their faith in me and giving me this opportunity. I've done several 24-hour races before, but this is certainly the most high profile event I've ever competed in and this weekend has really whetted my appetite to come back again next year and try to do even better."