QUAIFE'S UAE GT TITLE TRIUMPH PERFECT PREPARATION FOR LMS ASSAULT
Phil Quaife travels to the opening round of the 2011 Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard this weekend brimming with confidence after helping Jon Simmonds capture the UAE GT Championship title in Abu Dhabi last Saturday.
I've got big expectations for this season and am fully confident of challenging for the championship.
The 25-year-old Kent racer has proved a considerable asset to the Alex Renner Motors/MSW Racing outfit since being invited by Simmonds to co-drive the team's Porsche GT3 Cup machine in the Middle East's most competitive GT series.
Quaife's vast experience of racing Porsches helped the team to a trio of GTB Class victories in the eight-round championship, which visited Dubai Autodrome's and Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit's numerous track configurations throughout the European winter, en route to the title.
"Needless to say, I've really enjoyed racing out in Dubai and Abu Dhabi throughout the winter!" said Quaife. "Winning the championship is a fantastic achievement for Jon and the team and I'm really proud to have played a part in that. I've basically been back and forth to the region since November following 2010's final Le Mans Series round in China. That's allowed me to remain race sharp during the European off-season when there's little opportunity to race, while learning two brand new circuits could also pay dividends in the future."
With his Middle East adventure now at an end, Quaife's attention shifts to the highly-competitive European-based Le Mans Series. For a third season he teams up with British squad CRS Racing where he's joined in the team's #82 Ferrari 430 by Adam Christodoulou and gentleman driver Klaas Hummel.
The 2.369-mile French circuit of Paul Ricard holds good memories for Phil who finished fourth at the same race in 2010. This year an even stronger result is expected.
"I've got big expectations for this season and am fully confident of challenging for the championship. Running the year-old Ferrari ensures we will be up against some very strong opposition in the new LM GTE Am class so I'm under no illusions as to the task facing us. In terms of driver talent we're very strong. Adam did a great job during the test days while Klaas already knows the team well.
"I've always enjoyed racing at Paul Ricard and the car has proven speed and reliability which will both be essential over the six hour race. The target has got to be a podium finish."
Coverage of all six hours from Paul Ricard can be found live on Motors TV at 10.45am on Sunday 3 April (Sky Digital 413 and Virgin Media 545).
www.RadioLeMans.com will also have live commentary of each practice session, qualifying and the race from Friday 1 April.
Live timing for all sessions is available at www.lemans-series.com.