FRUSTRATING FINAL WEEKEND, BUT QUAIFE DELIGHTED WITH MAIDEN LE MANS SERIES SEASON
Despite a frustrating end to the 2010 Le Mans Series season at his home race, the Silverstone 1000kms, Kent-based racing driver Phil Quaife has spoken of his delight at a strong rookie year in one of the world's premier sportscar endurance racing championships.
The BRDC Rising Star was hoping to end his maiden campaign on a high, but misfortune for the No.90 CRS Racing Ferrari 430, which he shares with Pierre Kaffer and Pierre Ehret, limited the trio to a 13th place finish in the notoriously competitive GT2 category.
A broken thermostat in the team's tyre heater meant that the qualifying tyres for both the team's cars were too hot and, with no time to do anything about it, Kaffer had to make the best of it. While he tried manfully to set a competitive time, both the British team's Ferraris ultimately took the decision to change rubber before Sunday's race which saw them start the race from the back of the grid.
Nevertheless, a strong start from Kaffer saw the No.90 car climb the field in the early stages and Quaife continued that good work when he took over, despite having to contend with a mass of traffic and some resolute defence from the experienced Tom Coronel in the works Spyker.
Quaife handed over to Ehret at the end of his stint, but just ten minutes later the German driver suffered a rear suspension problem that meant he had to limp back to the garage for repairs.
While the team did a sterling job to replace the upright and driveshaft, seven laps were lost, ending all hopes of a strong result.
Quaife returned to the car in the final two hours and showed front-running pace during another fine stint, before Ehret brought it home at the chequered flag.
"It's not how we wanted to end the season as we were hoping for a positive result on home soil," said Quaife. "Unfortunately we've been blighted by some bad luck, so even though our pace was good we were never going to get seven laps back in a category as competitive as GT2.
"Overall I have really enjoyed my first year in the Le Mans Series. Our results haven't been brilliant, but I have learned so much and I think I've made good progress throughout the year.
"I'd like to say a big thank you to Chris Niarchos, Andrew Kirkaldy and everyone behind the scenes at CRS Racing, as well as the sponsors, without whom I wouldn't be here. I very much hope I can come back and do the LMS with the team again next year."
Quaife's season hasn't finished yet though, after he was announced as one of CRS Racing's three drivers for the final round of ACO's new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup which takes place at Zhuhai this November. The 24-year-old BRDC Rising Star will share one of the team's Ferraris with Kirkaldy and Ehret in China.
"It's great news that the programme is confirmed and now we go to China looking for a strong result," Quaife said. "I've never been to Zhuhai before, so between now and the race I'll be learning the track on the simulator so I'm completely prepared."