British GT championship title favourites Scuderia Ecosse had a tough introduction to the Le Mans Endurance Series at Spa-Francorchamps as Andrew Kirkaldy and Nathan Kinch were forced out of the opening round of the LMES season.

The duo had set the pace through most of the weekend's sessions on the GT2 class Ferrari 360 GTC but a fog-shortened qualifying session saw the Ferrari secure third place on the grid in class.

Starting the race on a damp track, Kirkaldy enjoyed a trouble free start to the race and had soon battled into the lead of the GT2 class before pitting to switch to slick tyres as the track started to dry. Kirkaldy then regained the lead after a safety car period and ran comfortably out front until pitting to hand over to Kinch after half of the six hour race.

"For a triple stint that went really quickly!" Kirkaldy said. "The car was running well but there was a lot to think about as there were people going off all around me."

Rejoining the race, Kinch immediately found himself involved in a battle with the TVR of Jonny Kane with the two swapping position for the GT2 lead before Kinch pitted for fuel and tyres. However, on new slick tyres and with the track damp at turn ten, Kinch found himself sliding off the track and was forced to return to the pits to allow the team to repair the damage. The safety car being called out to deal with other incidents minimised the time lost and Kinch was straight back on the pace when he rejoined, only to be forced to retire due to falling oil pressures with just 15 minutes to run.

"I really enjoyed my first stint; it was good to have such close racing in an endurance event", Kinch said after the race. "At the start of my second stint the car just understeered off at turn ten; a combination of the slippery track and new slicks. It's very frustrating but there's no point in dwelling on it so we'll have a good debrief and move our thoughts onto [the next round of the British GT championship at] Magny Cours."

Team principal Stewart Roden was also disappointed with the result, but he admitted that he was pleased with the performance up until the retirement.

"We're obviously disappointed but if I look on the bright side I can say it's all good practice for Le Mans in June," he said. "The boys did a fantastic job in the pits today; they have all upped their game and operate as a slick team now so well done to them. I think overall we did a good job in our first LMES race and we have learnt a lot through this weekend. I would just like to say it was thoughtful of the weather to make us feel so at home; it's just like Scotland at Spa today!"



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