Although not seeing the results they wanted, the Sumo Power GT team came away from round five of the FIA GT1 World Championship at Spa in positive mood. In today’s main Championship Race all four drivers put in an impressive performance: Michael Krumm and Peter Dumbreck in car 23 battled their way up to second place and then, with just one-and-a-half laps to go, their Nissan GT-R coasted to a halt with no drive.
Team-mates Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell-Walter in car 22 also scythed their way through the field. Starting from 19th, they crossed the line in 11th, but were robbed of a far better result when they were hit by another car half-way through the race.
Following a series of mixed fortunes in Friday’s Qualifying Race, car 23 lined up eighth on the grid and car 22 in 19th, after being shunted on the very first corner and subsequently having to visit the pits to change a punctured tyre.
Once again, the drama started for the Sumo Power GT team right from the start, when the cars ahead of Krumm in car 23 accelerated hard and then suddenly braked on the approach to the start line, the red lights taking longer to change than they anticipated. With no where to go and cars behind him apparently unaware of what was happening, Krumm had no choice but to move to the outside of the track at the first corner to avoid a pile-up and, in doing so, lost five places on the run-up to Eau Rouge.
With a car that was handling better than ever – even with its 50 kilos of success ballast on board – the German began to make up places and, following a series of excellent overtaking moves, by lap eight he was back where he started in eighth place. Meanwhile, also with a car that was performing well, Hughes was mimicking Krumm’s progress – albeit five places further back – and had battled up to 11th place on lap eight.
But then, one lap later, Roman Grosjean in a Ford GT lunged up the inside of the Nissan and, with no chance of passing, smashed into the back of Hughes’ car, sending him into a spin. After the following cars dived left and right to miss the Nissan – which was stationary in the middle of the track – Hughes got going again, but now in 20th place and with all of his good work undone.
Both Sumo Power GT cars went into the pits for the compulsory mid-race driver and wheel change after 12 laps and, following two sub 30-second stops, Dumbreck in car 23 emerged in fifth and promptly moved up to fourth on his out-lap, with Campbell-Walter now in no. 22 moving up to 18th.
A clash between two other cars left debris on the track and on lap 15 the Safety Car was deployed, allowing everyone the opportunity to close up. When racing commenced three laps later Dumbreck found himself in a position to challenge for a podium position – and he didn’t have to wait for long – as the leading Lamborghini slowed down and retired. The Nissan driver then hunted down the slower Ford GT ahead of him, whilst fending off the advances of a Maserati behind and, on lap 22, he finally passed the Ford under braking to claim second.
Now, with the possibility of victory in sight, he continued to push and started to catch the Lamborghini of Ricardo Zonta/Frank Kechele in first place. Then suddenly, on the penultimate lap, Dumbreck felt his car start to vibrate and a few hundred yards later it lost all drive to the rear wheels. Having never experienced a race-stopping mechanical issue, the Sumo Power GT team were stunned to see its Nissan coast to a halt. The reason later traced to a drive-train problem.
The second half of the race also saw Campbell-Walter on a mission and, although being badly baulked by slower cars ahead of him, he was able to thread his way past and up to a hard-fought 11th place.
Although it wasn’t the weekend they were looking for, the whole of the Sumo Power GT team was delighted with the performance of its cars, both of which set front-running times throughout the two races. Therefore, with car 23 now losing some of its success ballast before the sixth round at Nurburgring on 29th August, the team is looking forward to getting back on track and putting the record straight.
Michael Krumm – Driver Car 23
“The start was crazy. I don’t know why the cars in front accelerated and then braked and, with cars bearing down on me from behind, it was a case of getting out of the way or getting hit. However, the Nissan was very quick and it was set up just the way I like, which really helped me get past so many others and back up to eighth. Of course it’s disappointing we didn’t finish, but today was still a great performance.”
Peter Dumbreck – Driver Car 23
“As soon as I left the pits I could feel that the car was good and I could really push. We then had the Safety Car period which helped me catch the leaders and, when we started racing again, I thought we were going to make it onto the podium. I was so surprised when the car started to vibrate. A retirement is not something I’d experienced with the team before.”
Warren Hughes – Driver Car 22
“With the way the car was going a top-five position was on the cards – even though we started from P19. I couldn’t believe it when Grosjean hit me. He came from so far back there was no way he could have got past. The accident ruined his race and ours.”
Jamie Campbell-Walter – Driver Car 22
“I enjoy a good race and overtaking, but that was a frustrating drive. With the car performing so well, I was catching others quickly, especially after we got closed up by the Safety Car, but there was so much defensive driving going on I couldn’t get by. It was just one of those weekend’s, but at least we know we have the pace to run at the front – if only we can get there!”
Allen Orchard – Team Manager
“I’m really disappointed for Michael and Peter. After a drive like that they deserved to finish second. In the same way, Warren and Jamie also deserved better, as did the whole team considering the effort that went in to make up for our qualifying outcome. However, all is looking good for the next race!”
James Rumsey – Team Principal
“The whole team made a massive effort to get us back to where we should be in the race and I’m really impressed with the way the cars and drivers performed. It’s just a shame that sometimes in motorsport, the results don’t reflect the work that’s goes in.”