FIA GT1 World Championship Round 10: Qualifying Report

After scoring a solid sixth place in round nine of the FIA GT1 World Championship last week at Interlagos in Brazil, the Sumo Power GT team have travelled 1600-miles south west to San Luis in Argentina, where the only UK-based entrant in this 10-round global series will face its toughest challenge of the year.

The final round takes place at one of the world’s most amazing tracks, the Circuit Potrero de los Funes, which follows the perimeter round around the edge of a volcanic lake, located about 10 kilometres from San Luis town centre. Commissioned by the local government, the circuit follows the topography of the surrounding hillsides, and is flanked by concrete walls for 99% of its 3.9 mile (6.3 kms) length and 22 corners.

With the circuit normally a public road, it was officially closed to traffic for the first time for two years yesterday (Friday), with the GT1 cars making their debut on this unique track today (Saturday). This morning’s Free Practice session saw the Sumo Power GT drivers – and its two Nissan GT-Rs – experience the circuit for the first time: Michael Krumm and Peter Dumbreck in car 23 and Jamie Campbell-Walter and Warren Hughes in car 22 – all four of them commenting how exciting the track was to drive, but potentially very dangerous.

Both cars ran well, with the drivers ensuring they got to know the idiosyncrasies of the track before pushing for a good lap time. Krumm and Dumbreck were pleased to be sixth-fastest on very worn tyres, whilst Campbell-Walter and Hughes were not quite so pleased with 12th, with their grip issues from Brazil seeming to reappear.

With day-time temperatures reaching 30 degrees centigrade, what happened next was a surprise to all when, just before the afternoon’s Pre-Qualifying session, the wind picked up and the heavens opened. For nearly an hour, the area within the bowl of the extinct volcano was subjected to rain and hail storms, leaving the track waterlogged, and consequently proceedings were temporarily brought to a halt.

Almost as quickly as it arrived, the storm passed and, as soon as the track was dry enough, the action recommenced with a shortened Pre-Qualifying session. Seeing little point in using the dry weather tyres that form part of the weekend’s restricted allocation, Krumm and Hughes only did a three laps each on wet-pattern rubber.

Taking place in the evening, qualifying – to determine the grid position for tomorrow morning’s Qualifying Race – followed its usual format, where the fastest 16 cars progress from Q3 to Q2, from which the fastest eight go on to Q3. Campbell-Walter was first to drive in car 22, but after only a few laps a gear selection issue prevented him from posting a time any quicker than 18th and therefore, Hughes did not get the opportunity to drive in Q2.

However, Dumbreck in car 23 was experiencing no such issues and was able to post the fifth fastest time. Krumm then took the wheel of the Nissan for Q2 and, even after spinning to avoid a stray dog, went on to set the fourth fastest time. Dumbreck then drove in Q3 and, whilst on a flying lap, had to slow when a car spun in front of him.

Poised to rectify the situation on the next lap, he then found his tyres had peaked and therefore the chances of setting a time higher than eighth were out of the question. As it turned out, with a penalty applied to a competitor ahead of them after the session, he and Krumm will start from P7 tomorrow.

Sumo Power GT are currently fourth in the Teams’ standings with 130 points, behind Young Driver AMR on 137 and second-placed Reiter Lamborghini, who have 142. Therefore, with 57 points still up for grabs from tomorrow’s two races, five teams are still in with a chance of claiming second place – including Sumo Power GT.

You can catch up with all the latest Sumo Power GT news and view live videos at www.sumopower.com

FIA GT1 World Championship Rounds Nine and Ten – Preview

Round Nine – Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil: 26th – 28th November 2010
Round Ten – Potrero de los Funes, San Luis, Argentina: 4th – 5th December 2010

It’s the grand finale to what has been an outstanding first year for the Sumo Power GT team in the FIA GT1 World Championship, as they prepare for the last two rounds of the season. Held on consecutive weekends in South America, the first sees the team travel to Brazil and the legendary Interlagos circuit on the outskirts of Sao Paulo. Then, following a 1600-mile journey southwest, the tenth and final round takes place at the unique Circuit Potrero de los Funes near San Luis in Argentina.

The eight-points that are awarded for winning each of the two Qualifying races, coupled with the 25-points scored for each of the two Championship races, means there are 114 teams’ points still up for grabs. Therefore, with Sumo Power GT currently lying third in the Teams’ Championship, 28 points behind Reiter Lamborghini in second and 46 points away from Vitaphone Maserati in first, the only UK-based entrant in this global series has vowed to ‘give its all’ for the remaining four races that make up the concluding two rounds of the season.

As for the team’s four drivers; Michael Krumm and Peter Dumbreck in car 23 are currently 10th in the Drivers’ standings, with Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell-Walter in car 22 lying 11th. Consequently, with 66-points still available for each, good results in South America could see all four drivers finish in the top five.

In order to achieve this, the team has done all it can to prepare for the final two rounds, analysing its strategies, studying data and rehearsing its pit-stop procedures. Added to this, all of the drivers have practiced the tracks ‘virtually‘ on a racing simulator based in the UK.

Having assessed the circuit layouts, the team is also hopeful that its two Nissan GT-Rs will be suited to the characteristics of the tracks, as history has shown that undulating topography coupled with fast sweeping corners, has suited the power-delivery and handling of its cars. However, even after achieving an impressive seven top-three finishes so far this year, the team is very aware that it is impossible to predict what the final outcome will be. It will therefore be doing all it possibly can to ensure the odds are stacked in favour of Sumo Power GT.

Track Profiles:

Interlagos
The Autódromo José Carlos Pace, named after Brazilian driver Carlos Pace who died in a plane crash in 1977, is still better known by the area in which it stands; Interlagos. The track was built in 1937 and inaugurated in 1940. The current 4.97-mile (7.96km) circuit was constructed in 1990 and now famously hosts the Brazilian Grand Prix. It is one of the world’s few non-oval circuits that runs in an anti-clockwise direction.

Weekend Timetable
Friday 26th November
Free Practice: 10.55 – 12.15
Pre-Qualifying: 15.30 – 16.30

Saturday 27th November
Qualifying: 09.00 – 10.00
Qualifying Race: 14.30 – 15.30

Sunday 28th November
Warm-up: 09.20 – 09.50
Championship Race: 15.00 – 16.00

San Luis
Nine-miles from the centre of San Luis, capital of the San Luis Province in the Cuyo region of Argentina, the circuit Circuit Potrero de los Funes was originally constructed in 1987 by modifying the 3.9-mile (6.27km) road that runs around the perimeter of a volcanic lake. It was later rebuilt in 2008 and is now capable of hosting all categories of racing outside of F1, with the FIA GT1 World Championship the highest status series to visit the circuit.

Weekend Timetable
Saturday 4th December
Free Practice: 09.00 – 10.20
Pre-Qualifying: 12.05 – 13.25
Qualifying: 17.15 – 18.15

Sunday 5th December
Qualifying Race: 09.15 – 10.15
Championship Race: 13.25 – 14.25

Follow the team’s progress with its latest news stories and blogs – plus watch all four of the races live at www.sumopowergt.com

Sumo Power GT – Race 7 Preview

14th September 2010
Rye, East Sussex,  England
FIA GT1 World Championship – Round Seven, Autódromo Internacional do Algarve – Preview
After just a three-week gap between races, the Sumo Power GT team are in action again this weekend when they head to the Algarve for round seven of the FIA GT1 World Championship. Once again, Michael Krumm and Peter Dumbreck will drive Nissan GT-R number 23, with Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell-Walter behind the wheel of car 22.
Following a weekend of mixed fortunes for both its cars in round six at Nürburgring the team has been seeking to overcome the issues that diluted its qualifying performance last time out. However, even with low-starting positions, car 22 managed to finish in the top-ten and consequently, a points-scoring position.
With the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve a circuit which rises and falls with
the terrain and includes a mixture of both fast and slow corners, it shares some of its characteristics to that of Nürburgring. Therefore, taking into account the information and data that was gained by the team in Germany, it is hoping that this and the warmer conditions may have a positive effect in Portugal, as one of the main factors for review has been the generation of heat and the management of tyres – teams only allowed to use four sets per throughout the whole weekend.

Located near the city of Portimão in the Faro region of the Algarve, this relatively new circuit was opened in October 2008. A lap of the track is 4.692 kilometres (2,915 miles) long and is regarded by drivers as ‘challenging’, because of its undulations, blind crests and combination of bends.

Sumo Power GT heads to Portugal lying 6th in the Teams’ standings, with Hughes and Campbell-Walter 12th and Krumm and Dumbreck 13th in the Drivers’ Championship.

This weekend’s action starts at on Friday at 09.50 with Free Practice, followed by Pre-Qualifying at 14.35. Qualifying takes place on Saturday at 11.15, with the first hour-long race starting at 16.45 and the main Championship race, also one-hour long, scheduled for 15.30 on Sunday.
The team had the following to say regarding the Algarve race:
Michael Krumm – Driver Car 23
“I’ve only driven the Algarve track whilst testing and not raced there before. It has lots of ups and downs which make it quite challenging, but this is what also makes it an enjoyable circuit to drive. It’s not as high-speed as Spa and probably closer to Nürburgring in its characteristics, so we can take what we learnt from Germany and this should make us stronger in Portugal, although to get a good result this weekend the whole team has to aim to do a perfect job.”
Peter Dumbreck – Driver Car 23
“I raced at the circuit a couple of months ago in the 1000kms of Algarve. It’s a rollercoaster of a circuit with a lot of blind crests, which makes it interesting. There are a lot of 2nd gear corners that may not suit our cars ideally, but we should be able to make up for that on the fast and challenging sections, which is where the Nissan GT-R excels. We know we have the car, team and drivers that are capable of fighting at the front at most circuits and, if we approach this weekend with our previous achievements in mind, then we can push for a good result.”
Warren Hughes – Driver Car 22
“I raced at the Algarve track in an LMS race in July, where I won the Le Mans class and finished sixth overall. The circuit’s undulations, high and low-speed corners and bumpy surface in places makes it very technical and rewarding to drive. Hopefully it will suit our cars better that Nürburgring, especially if the weather is warmer and we can overcome some of the tyres issues. We will also be focussing on a better qualifying result, as that will set us up for the whole weekend.”
Jamie Campbell-Walter – Driver Car 22
“I am the only driver from our team who hasn’t driven the circuit, but it sounds like it shouldn’t be a handicap, especially as Warren (Hughes) is a great team-mate and shares information.  It would be good for us to get a result this weekend, but we’ve got to make sure we get through Q1 and into Q2 or Q3, because it ruins your weekend if you don’t.”
Nigel Stepney – Team Manager
“Taking into account our performance at the Nürburgring – coupled to other recent events – we are approaching some of the ways we do things differently when it comes to set-ups. We have carried out a great deal of work back at base since the previous round and therefore, I’m looking forward to seeing how this equates to our performance in Portugal.”
James Rumsey – Team Principal
“I think the team could do well this weekend.  Everyone is working well together and we’ve done some good testing on our rig since Nürburgring.  As always, our focus will be to get both our cars into a points scoring position and to do that we need to improve our qualifying performance. We seem to have the race pace, so if we can nail some good grid positions we should be right up there.”