Spa: Cirtek Motorsport Thursday report

NEW DRIVERS EXCEL IN RUSSIAN AGE RACING FERRARI AT SPA Nicolas Minassian and Jamie Campbell-Walter had their first taste of Ferrari power at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit as the pair joined the Russian Age Racing team for the 24-hours this ...

NEW DRIVERS EXCEL IN RUSSIAN AGE RACING FERRARI AT SPA

Nicolas Minassian and Jamie Campbell-Walter had their first taste of Ferrari power at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit as the pair joined the Russian Age Racing team for the 24-hours this weekend. The two drivers will share the Care-Racing supplied, Cirtek Motorsport-prepared Ferrari with Russians Nikolay Fomenko and Alexey Vasiliev in this race, which is worth double championship points.

Campbell-Walter set ninth fastest time overall in the first qualifying session, which was hit by rain in the closing stages. The Briton set a time of two minutes 18.693s, and believed that he could have gone much faster. However, the team lost valuable track time when a wheel broke during the second practice session during the afternoon, causing Campbell-Walter to leave the track at high speed. The 2000 FIA GT Champion had light contact with the wall, and damaged the front splitter.

"It is fantastic to be driving the Ferrari this weekend, and to be back in the championship," said Campbell-Walter. "My first race was in 1997 in a TVR Cerbera, when Mercedes CLKs were blasting past me! This championship has been very good for me, and it is nice to be back. The incident this afternoon was surprising. I was doing 262km/h in Blanchiment when the wheel broke. I was so lucky. I saw the wheel in my mirror and dabbed the brakes, trying to shift the weight of the car to the front and get it to turn. I just touched the wall, though didn't damage the car! In qualifying, I think I can do a high 2m16s lap, but we have a bit of understeer. That may be no bad thing, especially if it is raining during the race."

The event will be Minassian's debut in the championship, and he was enjoying himself. "The only difference for me, as a driver, is that there is more movement in the car, it rolls more than a Le Mans prototype," said the Frenchman. "However, I am driving a Ferrari 550 Maranello, one of the best GT cars for a very long time, so it is a very good place for me to start! The Spa 24-hours is the big GT race to win, and I rate it with Sebring, Daytona, Le Mans, the Petit Le Mans and the Nurburgring 24-hours."

Alexey Vasiliev drove the car in the wet second qualifying session, and once again proved his ability in adverse conditions. "The set-up is very good this evening and the car is always good on the Michelin tyres," said the Russian. "I had a problem doing the night running because the right headlight was not pointing in the right direction, so the right side of the track was dark. I only knew there was a corner when a car turned in front of me. Also, in the slow corners, there were a lot of photographers and their flashguns blinded me."

His team-mate in the championship, Nikolay Fomenko, will also drive the Ferrari in the 24-hour race, but says that traffic may be a problem. "I come up on the slower cars, and they act very strangely sometimes," he said. "They see me coming, and indicate, but I don't know whether that is for me to pass on that side, or whether that is where they are planning to go because they use up most of the track!"

The third qualifying session for the race takes place tomorrow, Friday, 29 June.

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Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Nicolas Minassian , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Alexey Vasiliev