CRS Racing had an action packed weekend as the International GT Open season got underway in Valencia last weekend.
It was almost a weekend that didn't last very long for the no.91 Ferrari of Chris Niarchos and Tim Mullen as Niarchos didn't even make it to the green flag in the first race of the weekend. The race was starting on a drying track, but the original was aborted after several cars went off the track on the formation lap.
“The guy who started way back in 24th didn't realised the start had been aborted,” said Niarchos afterwards. “He flew past me at full race speed as we were all going steady at about 50kph. He spun going into turn one and as I came around he came right across my path, leaving me with no option other than to T-bone him.”
The crash caused significant damage to the front of the car which the team worked until 2am to fix for the second race, even then being forced to leave part of the inside of the car out, leaving what team MD Mark Busfield described as “a howling gale” to blow under the bonnet.
That wasn't the only problem which confronted Mullen as he started the repaired car in the second race, as Busfield continues; “The car was mechanically sound but aerodynamically it was pretty poorly. The net result of this was that the back of the bonnet started to lift, obscuring Tim's vision.”
“The bonnet came up about six or seven inches,” said Mullen. “And when you sit as low as I do in the car it makes a big difference. I had to try and lift myself up so that I could see. It really wasn't ideal as being able to see does really help when you're driving a racing car!”
With that in mind it was even more incredible that they were able to finish seventh, but their teammates – Chris Goodwin and Klaas Hummel – were not so lucky.
Trying to improve on a twentieth place from the first race former BTCC driver Goodwin lost ground from the start, but soon made up the lost ground before handing over the no.90 to Hummel. However, when he was on a charge he braked too late for turn eight, ending his challenge in the gravel trap.
“Race two was definitely one of the hardest drives of my life because, in addition to the bonnet obscuring our vision, the damage meant that we had no front end grip. Instead of downforce we had lift!” said Niarchos. “It was good to resurrect some points and I want to pay a huge credit to the guys as they were the real heroes of the weekend. They really did an exceptional job.”
“It's annoying that we had the accident in race one but the in race two that same guy was running in fifth place when the guy in sixth fired him off so I guess you can say that what goes around comes around!”