Brilliant third place for SRT in FIA GT with Longin-Ruffier
ZOLDER, BELGIUM. Bert Longin and James Ruffier finished off the FIA season with SRT in beauty. In Zolder the Belgian-French duo drove to a sixth place, the eighth consecutive time this season that the team has finished in the points and at the same time the SRT team as also both drivers, Ruffier and Longin were also assured of their third place in respectively the teams' and drivers' championship of the FIA GT. Back in 2003 SRT were to first private team in the world to compete with a Corvette C5-R in the Belcar, grew on through to the FFSA GT and FIA GT, last season won a first race in the FIA GT and are now closing off the era of the FIA GT with a bronze medal in what in reality is the World Championship for GT cars. "In the first place we are now going to thoroughly enjoy it and what might follow for SRT in the coming season will be known in a few weeks time. For the rest I want to heartily thank everyone for this great result", is how Patrick Selleslagh concluded this strong season enjoyed by the Belgian team.
Circuit Zolder was the stage for the eighth and final meeting of the FIA GT championship, and also the final one in its present format. During the free practice sessions everything went to SRT's liking, even though the wet conditions were not the ideal preparation for the expected dry race on the Sunday. Halfway through the second session the drivers finally had a dry surface. In the mid point of this session Bert Longin moved up into P1 in the rankings, after which both he and his French team-mate James Ruffier continued working on the car's set-up. The black-white liveried Corvette C6.R finally finished in seventh place, but the work put had clearly proved its worth. During the qualifying sessions everything appeared to be evolving in the same positive direction, but Bert Longin, who was taking the session for his account, miscalculated matters. In his own words:
"I had a good Corvette that is for sure. I immediately felt that a good result could be achieved, but unfortunately I made a mistake, and all hopes of a good result went out of the window My mistake... ...could have done far better than a fifth place..."
During the race the departing James Ruffier obviously experienced some difficulties, as the Frenchman him self admitted: "I took over from Bert almost immediately, a tactical gamble, and wanted at all costs to safeguard that third place in the championship, but because of that perhaps I drove too munch with safety in mind. I didn't take in a single kerbstone, was very cautious when overtaking and definitely didn't want to make any mistakes or damage the car. Because of that we lost contact with the top-3, and notwithstanding a strong and regular stint by Bert we couldn't do better than a sixth place. But our closest rivals for that third place in the championship hardly performed better and we finished third in the championship, which is quite a remarkable result. I'm 35 and this is a brilliant moment for me to hang up my helmet.."
These last two set seasons SRT competed in eighteen races in the FIA GT with the Corvette C6.R and finished 16 times in points, with a series of nine races since the final race of the last season in Argentina. In that priories d the team won twice and on op of that were five times on the podium, with 3 fourth places and a series of honourable finishes. In 2008 SRT finished fifth in the FIA GT championship and now the team has brilliantly clinched a third place in both the drivers and teams rankings.
"Indeed", Bert Longin endorsed, who competed in a double programme in Zolder. "Third in the FIA GT championship is brilliant, what more can one say. On top of that I won the teams' title with First Motorsport in the Belgian GT and also third in that same championship with the drivers. But back to the FIA GT. I want to take this opportunity to explicitly thank Patrick, all SRT collaborators, our commercial partners, the Pratt & Miller people as also the organisation for such a brilliant and highly successful season!"