VICTORY SEALS BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP
James Sutton and Michael Meadows' fantastic victory in the two-hour British GT race at Silverstone today sealed the first Championship win for the CR Scuderia team: the 2008 British GT Teams' Championship. This was also the first race win for Sutton and Meadows who have pushed hard all year to take their first win. Luke Hines and Jeremy Metcalfe joined them on the podium in third place.
CRS Team Principal, Chris Niarchos, is delighted that his team has taken its first championship win in its first year of competition.
"Brilliant! What a great result!" he said. "It doesn't get any better than to win a championship in your first year. The equalisation process, after hampering us during the mid-season, has actually led to the best race of the year as the cars were all very well matched out there today after the recent adjustments. This win is a good omen for the future for CRS."
James Sutton and Michael Meadows have waited all year to take their first British GT victory and they did it in style today. Meadows started the race from seventh place and, after a few problems in the opening laps, he reeled off fastest lap after fastest lap and improved up to third before handing over to Sutton at the halfway mark. He also broke the GT3 lap record.
"My start was pretty shocking," said Meadows after the race. "I got caught in the middle of other people's accidents and then stuck behind slower cars. I took a bit of a lunge at the black Viper and spun but after that I settled in and managed some good lap times. The car was awesome and I'm delighted we won."
Michael Cullen got a great start, moving up from ninth to fifth but his and Paddy Shovlin's race was to be short-lived. Phil Burton's Ferrari turned in on Michael at the second corner and launched him into the air, breaking a wheel.
Luke Hines also had a good start from sixth to fourth and drove a fantastic stint, moving up to third and eventually came in from the lead during the main pit-stop period.
"It was an interesting first half and I managed to pull some great moves. I kept out of trouble and let the guys up front make all the mistakes which allowed me to move up the order. At the end of my run I hit the oil spilt by the Ascari and had the car completely sideways on the grass...scary moment! I kept it together though and I'm delighted for the team as they have their first championship win."
Once everyone had pitted, the lead Aston Martin pulled into its garage as it had no second driver to take over from Michael Bentwood (long story!). This left the two remaining CR Scuderia Ferraris in first place with Metcalfe at the wheel, closely followed by Sutton in second.
With thirty minutes to go both Ferraris were handed a 10 second stop-go penalty for a pit-stop rule infringement: not closing the driver's door whilst the cars were being refuelled. They both pitted and rejoined the race in third and fourth but this time Sutton was ahead of Metcalfe.
"The car was great today," said Metcalfe. "Luke had driven a great stint and I had no real need to push as I was in a great position. I got the call for the stop-go just as I was passing the pit entry so I had to go across the grass a bit and that's where I lost out to James. I managed to do one of the Vipers for third but the next one was too far ahead so I just brought the car home."
James Sutton had also passed the third placed Viper and spent the last few laps of the race hunting down Aaron Scott's lead Viper. There was no way James was going to let his first British GT win slip through his fingers and he sailed past the Viper on the penultimate lap and cruised to the chequered flag.
"When I heard I had the stop-go penalty I decided not to get frustrated," said James. "All I could do was relax into the race again, get my head down and stay calm. I heard on my radio that the first Viper I had to pass had only changed two of its tyres during the pit stop and that clearly hampered them. I got him around the outside at the last corner as I had a lot more grip there. The second Viper was a lot harder and I had to really hang on and wait for the opportunity to snatch the lead. This is a fantastic result for CRS. They are a great bunch of people and I think the fact they won their first championship in their first year shows how strong they will be in the future."
The team has almost finished packing up at Silverstone and the red, white and blue CRS transporters will set off tonight for the long journey across Europe as the Bucharest round of the FIA GT Championship takes place in just a few days' time.