Silverstone FIA GT Preview
14th April 2008
The CR Scuderia team switches to international mode now for round one of the 2008 FIA GT Championship. The new season kicks off at Silverstone this weekend and it is set to be one of the closest GT2 championship battles for years.
The team’s two Michelin-shod Ferrari 430s are up against seven other 430s driven by fantastic racers including Toni Vilander, Gianmaria Bruni and Thomas Biagi; and a strong showing from Porsche, particularly the car driven by Emmanuel Collard and Richard Westbrook.
After seeing the CR Scuderia British GT and Formula Renault drivers make such cracking starts to their seasons it is now the turn of the FIA GT drivers to take to the track.
Chris Niarchos and Tim Mullen are reunited as team-mates for 2008. The 2006 British GT Championship-winning pairing will share CR Scuderia Ferrari no.55.
CR Scuderia Ferrari no.55: Chris Niarchos & Tim Mullen
CHRIS NIARCHOS: “It seems like years since we drove the cars. The competition is incredibly difficult in FIA GT this year; the quality of the field is the highest ever. As a driver I am still on a very steep learning curve but I love this level of competition as it forces me to raise my game. Tim and I need to go out there this weekend and have a very steady race.”
TIM MULLEN: “I can’t wait to get out there and race as it feels like we’re starting the season really late this year. The other two CRS teams are off and running and we’ve been waiting in the wings, raring to start racing ourselves. It’s good to be racing with Chris (Niarchos) again as we make a great team.”
Andrew Kirkaldy and Rob Bell share CR Scuderia Ferrari no.56. The Scottish driver took pole position at this event last year and Rob did the same at the 2007 Le Mans Series round at Silverstone. They make a formidable team. Rob already has an international win under his belt after a great GT2 victory in the recent Le Mans Series race in Barcelona.
CR Scuderia Ferrari no.56: Andrew Kirkaldy & Rob Bell
ANDREW KIRKALDY: “I’m very excited to be going racing again. I have had my busiest winter ever as we have had so much to do setting up the new team. All of my team management duties take a back seat during the FIA GT weekends so that I can concentrate on driving and extracting the best out of the car.”
ROB BELL: “As it’s our first FIA GT race of the season we will be looking to make our mark and we are very much going out there to win. Andrew and I drove together at Nogaro last year and achieved a podium together so we know we can do it. Now we just need to get down to work and get the job done.”
0900-1020 Free practice
1715-1750 Qualifying 15/5/15
0900-0930 Warm up
The UK television schedule is due to be announced this week. Keep an eye on www.fiagt.com for news.
For all the timesheets and live timing from the British GT race meetings please go to MST World.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2008?
(information courtesy of www.fiagt.com)
A single 80-minute free practice session will be followed by an 80-minute pre-qualifying session. This will allow all drivers to qualify for the race, meaning that any driver – and not only those who take part in the qualifying session – will be able to take the start the race.
Pit-stops during two-hour races:
Eight of this season’s races will follow the same two-hour format as in 2007, including two obligatory pit-stops, although the driver-change is no longer mandatory. Each driver must complete a 35-minute stint of continuous driving. Any breach will result in the immediate application of a ‘drive-through’ or ‘stop and go’ penalty.
Two one-hour races in Bucharest:
This year, the Bucharest round will test a format with two one-hour races. The weekend will start on the Friday with free practice. Pre-Qualifying will follow on Saturday morning, followed by Qualifying, which will set the grid for the first race. This will be a qualifying race, held on the Saturday, to set the grid for the second race. Participation is mandatory, except in cases of force majeure, in order to take part in the Championship race. During each one-hour race, there will be one mandatory pit stop between the 23rd and 37th minutes, and each driver must complete one 25-minute stint. Full points will be allocated after the Championship race; no points will be awarded after the Qualifying race.