RACE UPDATE 22:00 THE PROXIMUS 24 HOURS OF SPA Spa-Francorchamps, 29 July 2006: The festivities are over and the race is underway at Spa. The leading Ferrari 430s had a formation start that saw Andrew Kirkaldy at the head of the pack in car...
RACE UPDATE 22:00
THE PROXIMUS 24 HOURS OF SPA
Spa-Francorchamps, 29 July 2006: The festivities are over and the race is underway at Spa. The leading Ferrari 430s had a formation start that saw Andrew Kirkaldy at the head of the pack in car 62 with Tim Mullen in third in the no.63 Ferrari. Mika Salo managed to pass Tim on lap two but Tim took third place back some laps later. Kirkaldy set off in pursuit of the two brand new Porsche 997s, passing both of them in the first ten laps.
After the first round of pit-stops Kirkaldy rejoined in the lead with Mullen in second place. Tim had a spin after being hit by a GT1 car; this knocked him down to fifth and left him with a lot of work to do to regain the lost positions.
At the two hour mark, Kirkaldy was a minute ahead of the second-placed Ferrari of Matteo Bobbi, followed by Rui Aguas who was being hunted down by a charging Tim Mullen. Twenty minutes later Mullen came into the pits to hand over to Allan Simonsen.
Tim Mullen: "That was hard work as I had no clutch from early on. It's hard to get into gear on the downshift and the car feels like it is all over the place. I got hit by a GT1 car at the esses out the back - he hit my right rear and spun me around -- so that lost me a few places."
A couple of laps later Kirkaldy pitted to hand over the lead car to Nathan Kinch.
Andrew Kirkaldy: "It's all going to plan so far; we haven't had any dramas, the car feels good and the tyres feel good. We were able to double stint the tyres and I feel ok after a double stint so no complaints
Not long into Simonsen and Kinch's stints the Safety Car was deployed whilst a car was recovered. Once the race settled down again Kinch was in the lead with Simonsen in fourth place. An hour into Kinch's stint he had an 'off' and sustained damage to the left rear corner of the Ferrari. The Scuderia Ecosse mechanics worked fast and got the young Scot back out on the track in just ten minutes where he set about lapping on the pace of the lead GT2 cars.
Nathan Kinch: "That was a real shame and I'm really annoyed with myself. The car felt good before I went off and luckily it felt good afterwards too. There's no suspension damage, just bodywork so hopefully this hasn't caused us too much damage."
Only a few minutes after Kinch had rejoined the track, Simonsen radioed in with a suspected driveshaft problem. Again the team leapt into action and a new driveshaft was fitted in just 15 minutes and Tim Mullen was sent out for a double stint.
Allan Simonsen: "The car was ok really. I was taking it steady, staying within the limit, but then the driveshaft broke. It was difficult to drive without the clutch; you have to brake early as you're never sure if you're going to get the downshift. It also makes the pit-stops difficult so we're very glad to have the downhill pitlane here!"
At 2200hrs Marino Franchitti is about to pit from fifth place and Tim Mullen is running well in eighth. The team is now hoping the dramas are all out of the way and preparing to run into the darkness.