Welcome to Part One of CR Scuderia's Spa 24 Hours. It has been an eventful first few hours and the racing has been hard but all of the CRS drivers have now completed at least one stint and the team is fully settled into the rhythm of the ...
Welcome to Part One of CR Scuderia's Spa 24 Hours. It has been an eventful first few hours and the racing has been hard but all of the CRS drivers have now completed at least one stint and the team is fully settled into the rhythm of the race.
The race is on at Spa and Tim Mullen got a great start, from eighth on the grid all the way up to third. He is being chased hard by Andrew Kirkaldy though in fourth. By the end of lap two Mullen has improved to second and Kirkaldy is third.
As the two CRS Ferraris come through La Source Hairpin Kirkaldy goes for the inside line and when Mullen turns in the two cars touch. Kirkaldy continues on in second place but Mullen drops to 10th.
The Team Principal's view:
"With incidents like that you have to laugh or cry. At the moment I'm laughing but ask me again tomorrow!"
Kirkaldy is still running strongly in second and Mullen has moved up to ninth.
Kirkaldy pits to hand over to Dirk Muller, the 56 Ferrari taking on fuel and tyres. This car was pitted slightly earlier than planned in case no.55 needed repairs from its spin at La Source. It makes sense to service the healthy car first in these situations in case repairs take longer than anticipated.
Mullen is in to hand over to Niarchos and take on fuel and tyres. It looks like the car got away very lightly and just ne eds a new rear diffuser mounting. This will be repaired at the next stop.
Andrew Kirkaldy has recovered from his stint now and explains what
happened at La Source:
"I went for the inside and Tim didn't see me, turned in and we touched. It was pretty gentle and it looks like both cars are okay."
Muller is leading the GT2 class in the 56 Ferrari and Niarchos is pushing hard in 10th place.
Niarchos radios in to say he has run wide at Blanchimont, running over some grass, so the team decide to call him in early to remove the grass stuck in his radiators. There is still a very long way to go so nobody wants to risk an overheating engine.
Niarchos pits and hands over to Gordon Shedden for his first stint. Just as Gordon leaves the pits on slicks the drizzle turns to rain. The Scot was about to have an interesting initiation into racing in the wet at Spa!
"It was raining at the end of my stint and I had a bit of a moment at Blanchimont," said Niarchos. "Tim Sugden was coming through and I went a little wide and went onto the greasy stuff and some grass. It's all okay though and it is always good to get your first stint out of the way so that you can settle into the race."
Muller pits for intermediate tyres and rejoins as he is double-stiniting.
The rain is heavy, then it turns to drizzle, then dries, then rains again... you get the picture. Muller comes in for slick tyres and hands over to Bell. The current positions are Bell in fifth and Shedden in 11th.
"I had a pretty normal first stint," said Muller. "I can see that the other cars are pushing very hard already and using a lot of kerb. I was on the medium compound and in retrospect we should have gone for the soft. Going onto inters though was a perfect decision as it would have been too risky to stay on slicks. We're keeping it steady and we're doing okay."
Shedden pits no.55, handing over the wheel to Andrea Piccini for his first run. Shedden, who went out on slicks in the rain, is glad to be back!
"That was probably the worst case scenario for a rookie," he said. "You get in and it rains. But I survived! I've never driven this car on slicks in the rain so I had no idea what it would do. I had to do a steady job and not be a hero; I'm only an hour in to racing Ferrari 430s so I'm happy with how it went."
Bell is in from fourth place and Muller takes the wheel of no.56.
"That was a difficult stint," said Bell. "It was dry for the first few laps, then drizzle, then rain, then dry. I didn't have any dramas though."
Tim Mullen takes over in no.55 from Piccini, sett ing out on a double stint.
Muller pits for new slicks and rejoins.
It's time to provide a bit more of an insight into 24 hour racing through the eyes of the CRS team. Jeremy Metcalfe and Michael Meadows, two of the team's British GT drivers, are here with a very special job to do. They have just left the garage in full wet-weather gear to make their way up to the top of the hill to provide regular weather reports to the team. The rain comes in very fast at Spa so it's good to have a pair of night watchmen on the hill!
"Jeremy and I are off to do a 12-hour stint now," said Meadows. "Which is more than I can say for all the GT2 drivers doing the odd hour here or there!"
We'll bring you more insight into other team members as we go into the night...