Today’s Qualifying Race for round five of the FIA GT1 World Championship at Spa saw Peter Dumbreck & Michael Krumm driving car 23 make up an incredible 10 places, climbing from 19th on the grid to finish in ninth place. Team-mates Jamie Campbell-Walter and Warren Hughes in car 22 did well to retain their starting position of 20th, after Campbell-Walter was hit by another car at the first corner, the damage requiring a pit stop for a punctured tyre.
Following a successful test at the circuit a few weeks ago, the team went to the classic Belgium track quietly confident with its dry-weather set up for both Nissan GT-Rs. Even with rain during pre-race testing on Thursday, the drivers were still comfortable with the feel of their cars and therefore, it came as a surprise when car 23 qualified 19th and car 22 was 20th.
This unusual turn of events for the Sumo Power GT team was attributed to Krumm being held up by slower cars during his flying laps and Hughes not able to get his second set of tyres to grip properly, the track temperature not as warm as the team had anticipated. This now meant that both cars would go on the offensive for the afternoon’s hour-long race.
Even with 50 kilos of success ballast on board, Dumbreck made a great start and exited the first corner in 16th place. In contrast, Campbell-Walter was rammed by the Maserati of championship leader Michael Bartels who went for a non-existent gap on the inside. The impact pushed the Sumo Power GT car into a Corvette, which promptly punctured the Nissan’s right-front tyre and then spun across its bows.
With no choice but to head to the pits to change the wheel, Campbell-Walter nursed his car around the rest of the 4.352-mile lap. Fortunately, the car sustained no other damage and, although returning to the circuit a lap down and in last place, he was determined to claw back as much lost ground as possible.
Meanwhile, Dumbreck was on a charge and, besides a tussle with the Lamborghini of Christoph Bouchut on lap 10 at turn one, a series of consistent lap times saw the Nissan driver climb to 15th before the mandatory pit stop after 25 minutes. An excellent wheel change by the team allowed Krumm to rejoin the race and capitalise on his opening lap to gain another place.
Piling on the pressure for the second half of the race, Krumm was very happy with the way his car was performing and proceeded to catch and pass cars, right up to and including the final lap. He went on to cross the line in ninth place, having increased his and Dumbreck’s starting position by an impressive 10 places.
Having swapped with Campbell-Walter, Hughes was having a similar afternoon. Also delighted with his Nissan’s handling, he was passing cars too. But, still a lap down, he was unable to make up the places his and Campbell-Walter’s performance deserved and finished as they started in 20th place.
Although not the results the team has become used to – having finished on the podium in the last five races – the consistent pace of its two cars bodes well for tomorrow’s all-important Championship race, where the main haul of points can be scored. The team’s hopes were further boosted when, in today’s race, car 23 set the third-fastest lap and car 22 the fourth.
Added to this, with the first and second-placed drivers in the championship recording non-finishes, the team stands a good chance to raise its position in the driver’s and team’s standings by the end of the weekend.
Michael Krumm – Driver Car 23
“Having started from 19th on the grid I am really pleased to finish 9th and I think we have recovered the situation well. Considering we are carrying the 50 kilos of success ballast, I am pleased with the pace we had. The car felt very good and I’m sure we’re in for an exciting race tomorrow.”
Peter Dumbreck – Driver Car 23
“All-in-all not a bad result. Even though the tyres were beginning to go off a little, because I was pushing hard and because of the extra weight we are carrying this weekend, the car was handling well. I’m really pleased we’ve made up for our qualifying result and we now stand a good chance of being in a points scoring position.”
Warren Hughes – Driver Car 22
“The car was so constant throughout my run I felt I could easily push. Overtaking wasn’t a problem either, as I was confident with the way the car was handling. Although we’ve got another challenge tomorrow, I’m sure that if we keep out of trouble we’ll be able to make up a lot of places.”
Jamie Campbell-Walter – Driver Car 22
“It was a real shame about the first corner shunt, as it spoilt the chance for us to improve on our grid position for the Championship Race. But with the car being right on the pace we could well make it into a points scoring position, so all is not lost by a long way.”
Allen Orchard – Team Manager
“It was a positive end to what was a disappointing start to the day. I’m delighted with what the drivers have said about the cars, which makes me confident that we can do well in tomorrow’s race, even though a podium position will be a tough call this time round.”
James Rumsey – Team Principal
“I think we’ve come out of this quite well. I was very pleased with the way the cars performed and, with our main rivals having problems, there’s been no real impact on our championship position.”