Phil Quaife romps home to TCR victory in Paul Ricard 24H

Phil Quaife and Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing extended their lead in the 24H International Endurance Series TCR standings with a crushing victory in the Hankook 24 Hours of Paul Ricard last weekend (16-17 July).30-year-old Quaife, a McLaren Test and Development Driver, arrived in the South of France determined to recapture the form that saw the #1 SEAT Leon Cup Racer he shares with co-drivers Nabil, Sami and Ramzi Moutran win the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai back in January.Having spent little time in the car during testing, running on old tyres and heavy fuel loads while his co-drivers acclimatised to the 5.8km circuit, Quaife spent much of qualifying fine tuning the set-up, but proved that there was more pace to be found by lapping half a second quicker on worn tyres in Friday evening’s night practice session.After observing an emotional minute’s silence on the grid paying tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack in Nice, Quaife switched his attentions to the task in hand and made good progress in the early laps.As the race began to settle into a rhythm, Quaife set his sights on TCR class rival Adam Jones and had claimed the lead by the end of the first hour, managing to stretch his advantage to 15 seconds before handing over to Nabil.A broken right-front damper at the end of Nabil’s first stint threatened to unravel their race, but a rapid repair by the Duel Racing mechanics meant Sami emerged having only lost two laps and soon began to gain ground on the cars around them.The RS Connect SEAT was unable to hold off the #1 car, which stormed into the lead after midnight and was pulling away when their rivals suffered brake problems. This left Quaife and his team-mates well clear at the top, with the NKPP Racing SEAT already out of the race after being caught up in an accident on the pit-straight.There was another brief delay when the studs on the left-front wheel hub were sheered clean off due to excess rubber left on the circuit that had become attached to the rim, but after another quick change, the car was sent on its way again, still comfortably in the lead.With a comfortable lead over their nearest rivals, Quaife could afford to drop the pace to reserve the car as night turned to day, but he still set the fastest TCR lap of the race on the 354th tour during his third stint, demonstrating that Duel Racing had not only the reliability, but the speed to win as well.Quaife and the Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing team now hold a commanding 30-point lead in the standings with two rounds remaining. After a summer break, the 24H International Endurance Series resumes with the Hankook 24 Hours of Barcelona on September 3-4.“The 24 Hours of Paul Ricard will go down as a job well done, everyone on the car performed to their maximum and all the mechanical aspects were very reliable,” Quaife reported. “All our other rivals also had mechanical problems because of the nature of the kerbs around the circuit, but we were better in the pits, that aspect of the team massively impressed me.“To take the win is always nice, but we’ve also extended our championship lead which is really important for everyone in the team. We’ll look forward to Barcelona now, where hopefully we can add another win to our tally."