Paul Richard HTTT
QUAIFE MAKES STRONG START TO LE MANS SERIES TITLE BID
Phil Quaife made a strong start to his bid to win Le Mans Series' LM GTE Am class title at the weekend as he and co-drivers Adam Christodoulou and Klaas Hummel finished fourth in the opening round of the prestigious endurance championship at Paul Ricard.
We showed enough potential to suggest that we can be championship challengers.
The Kent-based driver produced another fine performance at the wheel of CRS Racing's Ferrari F430, which led for much of the 6 Hour race, and was satisfied with a solid points haul in the first event of the five-round championship.
Having seen much of last month's pre-season test day at the French circuit marred by bad weather, all three drivers worked hard with the British squad in Free Practice to create a strong race set-up.
Christodoulou then put the car fifth in class on the grid during qualifying.
At the start of Sunday's race, Christodoulou avoided a massive pile-up as the event got underway, a problem caused by confusion in the race's starting procedure, and after a clever strategy from the team which saw the youngster gain a big chunk of time during his first pit stop by double-stinting his tyres, the car moved into the lead as Quaife took over.
Quaife quickly began extending the team's advantage during his first stint, but as he pitted for fuel, a starter motor issue meant the car didn't fire up and saw him delayed by around 40 seconds. He still rejoined at the head of the LM GTE Am field, albeit with a reduced advantage, and set about building the lead again before handing over to the team's non-professional driver Hummel.
Unfortunately, as Hummel tried to pull away, the starter motor problem repeated itself, losing more precious time, but he showed impressive pace in his stint to bring the car home in a fine fourth position, securing a solid points haul.
Phil Quaife: "It's a good start to the season and the team did a great job throughout the weekend to get the car from where it was in Free Practice to where it ended up in the race. The starter motor issue probably cost us a shot at the class win, but there is a long way to go this season and we showed enough potential to suggest that we can be championship challengers."
The next round takes place at one of Quaife's favourite tracks, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, on 5-7 May.