STORMING START BROUGHT TO AN ABRUPT HALT Chris Niarchos' storming start to the first FIA GT3 race of the season ended in disappointment when his team-mate, Chris Goodwin, was shown the black flag in error. The sister CRS car, in the hands ...
STORMING START BROUGHT TO AN ABRUPT HALT
Chris Niarchos' storming start to the first FIA GT3 race of the season ended in disappointment when his team-mate, Chris Goodwin, was shown the black flag in error. The sister CRS car, in the hands of Robert Hissom and Phil Quaife, was running in ninth place with a lap to go but a top ten finish slipped away when the car had fuel starvation issues which are now being investigated. The No.56 Ferrari was classified in 17th place.
CRS Racing only received its new Ferrari 430 Scuderias on Wednesday so the team has had to learn on its feet this weekend. Qualifying was tough, with Chris Niarchos taking 21st place and Robert Hissom taking 26th. The team got a break before race one though when the organisers ruled that the Ferraris could run with bigger restrictors. Too late for qualifying but the cars would be on the pace for the first race.
Both Niarchos and Hissom got away well at the start, gaining positions immediately. Niarchos, who is racing in the FIA GT and FIA GT3 Championships this weekend, had a particularly good start and proceeded to gain about three places on every lap until he was up to tenth, after just 15 minutes of racing. By the time the pit stops began he was up to eighth and he came in to hand over to Chris Goodwin.
Unfortunately as soon as Goodwin rejoined he received a one-second drive-through penalty as he was judged to have left the pits a second too early. He came in to serve the penalty, which put him right down the field, but then to add insult to injury he was black-flagged for apparently not coming in to serve his penalty!!
After giving Goodwin the black flag in error and terminating his race the FIA Race Director issued the following apology:
"During the required pit stop No.55 failed to comply with the 70 second pit stop window. As a result of which a stop and go penalty of 1 second was given and complied with by the driver Chris Goodwin and by the team. No further penalties should have been imposed to the driver or the team."
Robert Hissom drove a good first half in No.56 before he pitted to hand over to Phil Quaife. Phil had a fantastic run and fought his way right through the pack up to ninth. After lots of changes of position Quaife was running strongly in tenth when he radioed in to say his car was starting to falter and he subsequently dropped to 17th at the finish.
"I had a lot of fun out there today," said Niarchos. "In fact I think I'll resign from the GT2 team! The car is now so much better than it was in qualifying; not just in terms of speed, the balance is much better. The thing I love about GT3 is the sheer size of the grid; you have to fight for every scrap of race track through every second of the race and I love it. It's such a sha me that we were black flagged in error; it was a big disappointment."
Phil Quaife will start tomorrow's race from 13th on grid and Chris Goodwin will start No.55 from 15th. Racing gets underway at 1130hrs.