The 2011 Le Mans Series roared into action at Paul Ricard in France yesterday. CRS drivers Adam Christodoulou, Klaas Hummel and Phil Quaife finished in fourth place after leading the GTE-Am class for the majority of the six-hour race.
The beginning of the race was lively, with the entire pack thrown into confusion during the rolling start. As the cars came around for the start, the safety car stayed out on track but despite this, the lights went green. The net result of this was that all the LMP cars at the front stayed at low speed, as they could see the safety car, but the GT cars behind could only see the change of lights, and put pedal to the metal thinking the race was on.
Adam Christodoulou, starting from fifth place in the GTE-Am Class for CRS, avoided the crashing cars and made fast progress through the pack.
“The start really was chaos,” said Christodoulou. “I had to go straight through the middle and do some serious debris dodging! Once the race got going I found I had little grip but as the fuel burnt away it all got better and I found myself in third place, battling for second. I got up into P2, but then when I came in for my stop, the guys really nailed it and we double-stinted the tyres so that took me into the lead. The engineers gave us a great strategy today. It’s a shame we had the starter problems but it’s good to get the first race done so we know where we stand on pace so I’m now looking forward to Spa.”
The starter problem occurred at the end of Phil Quaife’s first stint. Like Christodoulou, Quaife had a great run and built upon the lead, but when he tried to leave the pits after his first stop the starter motor failed. The team fixed it, but the problem reoccured at the next stop, and lost the team precious time.
“When I got in the car I pushed as hard as I could to lengthen the lead so we had a comfortable gap to hand over to Klaas,” said Quaife. “We struggled a bit with our entry speed into the corners but overall the car was good so hats off to the guys who have all worked hard this weekend to give us a car we can race with.”
Klaas Hummel was the last man in the No.82 Ferrari and as a non-professional driver, this was the highest level he has competed at.
“That was a fantastic race; I really enjoyed it a lot,” said Hummel. “I am on a learning curve and I learned more than ever today about lines and corners so it feels good to make progress. I was in the car for over an hour and a half, which is the longest run I have ever done in a race. The car felt good; it was very well balanced and good to drive, so it was a real shame that we lost time with the starter problem and an off that I had during my run. I think we could have gained a place without all that.”