12 Hours 2011 - 19.03.2011
CRS Racing competed in its first American sportscar race yesterday: Round One of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup at Sebring in Florida. After running third in class for much of the 12-hour race, the No.62 CRS Ferrari retired after nine and a half hours of flat out racing.
Qualifying is going to be tough for the CRS Ferrari throughout the ILMC season as it is the only car in the LM GTE Am class with a fully non-professional driver line-up. All of the other cars in that class have at least one professional on board who can jump in for the ‘hero lap’ in qualifying. Nevertheless the team took to the track on Friday and put the Ferrari on the grid in fifth place.
After Saturday morning’s warm up session the eagle-eyed CRS crew spotted a small fuel leak so opted to get everything fixed and miss the grid so they actually took the race start from the pit lane.
Once the race got underway Pierre Ehret made a good start and was up to third place by the end of the first hour. Although he has raced with prototypes before, Roger Wills and Shaun Lynn had to get used to mixing it with the faster cars very quickly.
The Ferrari ran faultlessly for the first nine and a half hours of the race but a broken radio meant that the team couldn’t communicate with the drivers in the car. Due to a mis-calculation from the team on the fuel remaining, it was a heartbreaking moment when the car ran out of fuel on the planned in lap. Up to that point Roger's pace had been very impressive, not to mention consistent as he set the fastest lap of the weekend in the car during his double stint.
“The positive we can take away from this weekend is that we now know we have three very strong drivers in our ILMC car,” said CRS MD, Mark Busfield, “The average of three good amateurs should be a match for the other teams with a single professional driver in their cars. I think that once we get into Europe we will be strong so we’re looking forward to Spa.”
Upon reflection Roger added "Despite the issues with fuel calculations, I felt personally very satisfied. It is a steep learning curve stepping up into top level professional sports car racing but I was on the pace from the first practice session and managed to set the fastest lap in race conditions of the three drivers. While the traffic was rather daunting to begin with, especially the very rapid prototypes, I settled in well and got on with the job. So for the rest of the season I feel very confident in my own abilities and hopefully the mistakes by the team will be ironed out and allow us to compete for class honours."
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