FRUSTRATING WEEKEND FOR QUAIFE AT OSCHERSLEBEN
Phil Quaife was left disappointed after a weekend shrouded in misfortune saw a strong personal performance and sterling work by his CRS Racing team go unrewarded in the FIA GT3 European Championship at Oschersleben.
Quaife arrived at the German circuit full of confidence after an encouraging display in the last round at Adria which had seen him qualify third on the competitive 30-car grid. Unfortunately though, the weekend started badly when a problem in practice necessitated a complete engine change of the British team's Ferrari 430 Scuderia on Friday night.
A massive seven-hour shift from the CRS mechanics, which ended at 3am on Saturday morning, saw the car prepared in time for qualifying where Quaife's team-mate Robert Hissom went 27th fastest in the first session and Phil set the 13th best time in Q2.
Race 1 however was over for the #56 car before Quaife even had the chance to get behind the wheel when Hissom, having gained several places in the opening stages, was crudely barged off the track by an Audi R8, leaving the 430 Scuderia with a broken drive shaft and out after just three laps.
The second race saw Quaife take the start and immediately make progress from 13th on the grid. An impressive stint saw him fight his way up to eighth place by half distance and the time of the compulsory driver change to hand over to Hissom.
The American racer was fighting strongly just outside the top ten until a small mistake in the dying stages dropped him to 20th. He battled back well on the final lap to salvage two positions and finish 18th at the chequered flag.
"It's been a disappointing weekend in all honesty as we had such high hopes following our performance at Adria," said Quaife.
"We were unlucky in race 1 as the Audi just rammed Robert several times and broke the driveshaft as he pushed him off the tack. That wasn't what the team deserved after their incredible hard work on Friday night.
"On a positive note I think I did the best job I possibly could this weekend. I would have liked to have challenged for pole position, but we never quite found the optimum set-up and losing time in practice to the engine problem didn't help. Other pluses are that Robert has also made another big step forward and the team were fantastic again."
Quaife is now looking forward to making his debut at the new Algarve circuit in Portugal in the next round in September and feels there is still much more performance to find from the new-for-2009 Ferrari 430 Scuderia.
"I don't think we've been able to unlock this car's true potential yet," he said. "We've got an exclusive two day test at Snetterton before the Algarve round and we know we must work incredibly hard to find that extra bit of performance which will allow us to fight for pole positions in qualifying and at the front during the races."