Paul Ricard: Phil Quaife race report

QUAIFE DELIGHTED WITH FOURTH ON LE MANS SERIES DEBUT Phil Quaife made an immediate impression on his debut in the Le Mans Series as he helped CRS Racing clinch a fine fourth place GT2-class finish in the opening round of the 2010 season at Paul...

QUAIFE DELIGHTED WITH FOURTH ON LE MANS SERIES DEBUT

Phil Quaife made an immediate impression on his debut in the Le Mans Series as he helped CRS Racing clinch a fine fourth place GT2-class finish in the opening round of the 2010 season at Paul Ricard.

Recognised as the most competitive GT2 category in the world, Quaife and co-drivers Pierre Ehret and Pierre Kaffer did battle with works drivers from Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Aston Martin and ex-F1 stars such as Giancarlo Fisichella and Jean Alesi, in the 8-hour race, finishing just outside the podium places in the squad's Ferrari F430.

Practice was the first time Quaife had sat in the British team's brand new F430 and all three drivers worked hard throughout Friday's and Saturday's sessions to optimise the car's set-up ahead of qualifying.

With literally tenths of a second separating the top ten GT2 cars on the grid, Kaffer was frustrated that a small mistake in final sector of the 5.8 kilometre French circuit cost the team a front-row start and left the CRS Racing Ferrari in seventh. The German driver made amends on Sunday though with a stellar first stint at the start of the race, which saw him climb the field and fighting with team-mate Andrew Kirkaldy for third as he handed over to Quaife at the end of the first hour.

A problem during the pit stop with a rear wheel gun cost Quaife a few places, but his first stint as a Le Mans Series driver was fast and fault-free, despite the constant traffic around the circuit due to the 41-car entry.

After a solid stint from Ehret, Quaife was back in the car during the third hour and he matched the times of the class leaders, reeling in the Team Felbermayr Porsche of Martin Ragginger to take fourth and cutting into the advantage of the third-placed AF Corse Ferrari before handing back to Kaffer.

A puncture during Ehret's final stint cost the team some time, and probably a shot at a podium finish, but Kaffer secured fourth place with just minutes of the race to spare as he got the better of Matias Russo in the AF Corse Ferrari after a thrilling battle which was one of the highlights of the race's final hour.

Phil Quaife: "Fourth is a fantastic result for the team and also for me on my Le Mans Series debut. A good performance in the LMS really means something because this championship is where all of the world's best GT2 drivers and teams are racing.

"It took me a little time in my first stint to get used to this new style of racing as the prototype cars were much more aggressive than they had been in testing, but after a few laps I was in the groove. My second stint was one of the best I have driven for a long time and in the end I was really enjoying racing in the traffic with the prototypes.

"The LMS is awesome and the GT2 category is so competitive. I enjoyed every single minute of the entire weekend and I can't wait for the next race."

Quaife will return to action in round 2 of the Le Mans Series, the Spa 1000kms, on 7-9 May where a near-capacity 55-car grid is expected at the iconic Belgian circuit.

-source: phil quaife

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Jean Alesi , Pierre Ehret , Pierre Kaffer , Andrew Kirkaldy , Phil Quaife , Martin Ragginger , Matias Russo
Teams AF Corse , Team Felbermayr