The Scottish duo of Andrew Kirkaldy and Nathan Kinch scored a perfect set of results at Castle Combe this weekend, taking their sixth and seventh wins of the 2005 British GT Championship. With team-mates Chris Niarchos and Tim Mullen finishing close behind in second place in both races the team achieved its first ever double 'one-two' and is now flying clear at the top of the Championship tables.
Not scoring any points at last year's Castle Combe meeting proved disastrous for Nathan Kinch and Andrew Kirkaldy's 2004 Championship charge so they were keen to get a good result in the bag and break their duck at the Wiltshire circuit. By the close of play they had done it; Kinch took pole position for the race and the Scottish pair duly took their sixth victory of the season.
Team-mates Tim Mullen and Chris Niarchos had a much more dramatic race, Niarchos spinning on lap four whilst running fourth, chasing Mike Jordan's Porsche. The spin put Chris down to ninth but like a true professional he got stuck in immediately and handed the Ferrari over to Tim Mullen in fourth place after lapping just a few seconds shy of the third placed Porsche of Neil Cunningham. Once all the pit stops had taken place and the scores had levelled out Kirkaldy was leading and Mullen was in second place, the two drivers swapping new lap records, a battle ultimately won by Mullen. The final one-two result was testament to the hard work of the whole Scuderia Ecosse team.
Andrew Kirkaldy and Tim Mullen got away well from the front row of the grid for Sunday's race but Mullen was caught out by Ben Collins on the first lap, the Embassy driver passing him for second place. As Kirkaldy began to pull away Mullen went into battle with Collins' Porsche, passing him on lap six before hunting down his Scottish team-mate. Twenty minutes into the race Mullen was running with Kirkaldy, then almost as soon as the pit window opened the safety car was dispatched whilst a crashed Porsche was cleared from the circuit. The team immediately signalled for both cars to pit to change drivers but as they had just gone past the pit lane entrance they had to complete another lap so were hobbled somewhat by the timing of the safety car. The Embassy Porsche meanwhile had pitted just as the safety car came out so rejoined the race in first place!
Nathan Kinch and Chris Niarchos had it all to do and immediately set about chasing the Embassy Porsche, now driven by Neil Cunningham. A few laps later, under serious pressure from a charging Kinch, Cunningham went off onto the grass, rejoining in second place. So with Kinch in the lead and Niarchos now chasing Cunningham for second the race was going to plan for Scuderia Ecosse. The team, and Kinch especially, had a heart-stopping moment a lap later when the no. 36 GT3 Porsche span in front of the no. 35 Ferrari as they both came through Camp Corner. Kinch emerged unscathed just as the Embassy Porsche peeled off into the pit lane with its radiators full of grass. Chris Niarchos was now second and ten minutes later he and Kinch cruised home to another one-two victory for Scuderia Ecosse.
Nathan Kinch (#35):
"We've always known our car would be good here but weren't able to show it last year. Yesterday was fairly straightforward for us but we really had to work hard for the win today! The safety car came out just when we didn't need it so that helped the Embassy Porsche get by which gave us a lot of work to do. This is a fantastic set of results for us and it helps us to get the momentum going again. We have to keep our heads down now and continue to get the results we need to wrap up the Championship but I'd like to say all credit to the team who have worked incredibly hard and given us 100% race reliability."
Andrew Kirkaldy (#35):
"As Nathan says yesterday was nice and simple but today was a lot tougher. The aim for my stint was to build up a good lead and not take any risks. I had the worst ever run of traffic today though; it was as if nobody had rear view mirrors! Apart from that though there were no big dramas for me. I was a bit annoyed the safety car came out just as my lap times were falling and I didn't enjoy seeing that Porsche spin right in front of Nathan but all in all a fantastic weekend for our title fight and a 100% improvement on last year!"
Chris Niarchos (#34):
"I was a bit worried after the practice session on Saturday morning as Tim and I had so little running (due to driveshaft problems) so I'm delighted to come away with two podium finishes. The safety car really messed us up today because as well as losing a lap to Embassy we also ended up behind a few GT3 cars which took a while to pass. We're pleased with the result, now all we need to do is move up just one step and believe me the time is coming!"
Tim Mullen (#34):
"I've enjoyed this weekend a lot as we've had some proper, close racing which is a good job too as someone has to keep Andrew honest! Chris is getting faster race-by-race and it's only a matter of time before we take our first win. We've certainly got the pace on the other car as our two fastest laps prove but we just need to put it all together for a win."
Stewart Roden, Team Principal:
"Does it get any better than this? We couldn't have asked for a better result! Our prime concern this year is nailing the British GT Championship and I will tell you now that we are not taking our eye off the ball for a second. The team has worked incredibly hard over the past few weeks and actually prepared the cars for this event whilst we were out at Le Mans so well done to them and well done to all four drivers who put on a great show for the spectators this weekend."
What's next for Scuderia Ecosse?: Round two of the Le Mans Endurance Series takes place in two weeks time at Monza so Nathan Kinch and Andrew Kirkaldy will be looking for a good result for Ferrari at the home of Italian motorsport. The next British GT Championship round is at Silverstone in August. The intra-team battle is hotting up so expect a thrilling duel between the number 34 and 35 Ferraris of Scuderia Ecosse.
<pre> RACE 1 (Round 7): 1. Kinch/Kirkaldy Ferrari 360 GTC Scuderia Ecosse GT2 1:00:46.191 2. Niarchos/Mullen Ferrari 360 GTC Scuderia Ecosse GT2 +9.268 3. Collins/Cunningham Porsche GT3 RSR Embassy Racing GT2 +17.377 4. Jordan/Caine Porsche GT3 RSR Eurotech GT2 +46.870 5. Keen/Hyde Mosler MT900R Eclipse Motorsport GT2 +1 lap 6. Bentwood Nissan 350 Z RJN Motorsport GT2 +1 lap
Fastest Lap: Mullen 1:05.771 on lap 49 (lap record) Pole Position: Kinch 1:06.122
RACE 2 (Round 8): 1. Kinch/Kirkaldy Ferrari 360 GTC Scuderia Ecosse GT2 1:00:50.271 2. Niarchos/Mullen Ferrari 360 GTC Scuderia Ecosse GT2 +10.237 3. Jordan/Caine Porsche GT3 RSR Eurotech GT2 +19.799 4. Collins/Cunningham Porsche GT3 RSR Embassy Racing GT2 +32.341 5. Jones/Jones Porsche GT3 RSR Eurotech GT2 +42.965 6. Keen/Hyde Mosler MT900R Eclipse Motorsport GT2 +45.454
Fastest Lap: Mullen 1:05.820 on lap 9 Pole Position: Kirkaldy 1:04.636