The fifth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship takes place at the legendary Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, with the Sumo Power GT team now preparing itself for what is regarded as the most challenging track in the ten-event calendar. Once again, the team will field its two Nissan GT-Rs: car 23 driven by Michael Krumm/Peter Dumbreck and car 22 driven by Warren Hughes/Jamie Campbell-Walter.
The team will be looking to continue its unbroken run of podium places next weekend, having secured a top three finish in the last five of the season’s eight races held so far. With a first, a second and three third places, Sumo Power GT holds an impressive second in the team’s points table, whilst in the driver’s standings, Krumm and Dumbreck are fourth and Hughes and Campbell-Walter are fifth.
A major feature of this global super-car series is its ‘balance of performance’ criteria, with successful cars allocated ballast in order to encourage close racing. Therefore, car 23 will carry an additional 20 kilos following an excellent third place in round three at Brno in addition to a further 30 kilos after finishing an even better second in round four at Paul Ricard.
Although the extra 50 kilos is expected to put Krumm and Dumbreck at a disadvantage, an extremely positive day’s testing at Spa earlier this month boosted the team’s confidence, especially as it was the first time its two Nissan GT-Rs had been driven on the Belgium track.
For Hughes and Campbell-Walter in car 22, success ballast will not be an issue at this event, as their weight penalty for winning round two at Silverstone no longer applies. Also pleased with the Spa test, both drivers are hoping that a return visit to the podium will be a distinct possibility.
However, much will depend on the weather and track conditions during the weekend, as the area in which the circuit resides is renowned for its changeable climate. It’s also a circuit that commands respect from the drivers, mainly because of its fast, twisty and hilly character, which is the main reason why so many enjoy competing there.
A lap of Spa measures a shade over seven kilometres (4.352 miles) and contains 21 bends. The circuit is the venue for the Belgium Grand Prix. It is also host to the famous 24-hours endurance race, which this year is scheduled to take place immediately after the GT1 event.
The timetable sees the FIA GT1 World Championship cars first take to the track on Thursday at 11.30 for Free Practice, followed by Pre-Qualifying at 16.30. Qualifying for the first race takes place on Friday at 09.45, with the first hour-long race scheduled for 15.00. The main Championship race, also one-hour long, gets the green light at 12.05 on Saturday.
Michael Krumm – Driver Car 23
“I’ve raced at Spa many times and it’s a circuit I look forward to driving on. With our 50 kilos of success ballast it’s going to be a challenging weekend, but following the test the car is set up well and, if we can look after the tyres, I believe we can still challenge for a good points score.”
Peter Dumbreck – Driver Car 23
“Spa is one of the most enjoyable tracks to drive, but it’s difficult to do the perfect lap because the track is long and the car can be compromised in certain corners to benefit others. We are carrying 50kg of success ballast from our last two podium finishes so it will be a tough weekend for us. Therefore, we might not have the ultimate pace of the front runners but I think we definitely have a chance of scoring points.”
Warren Hughes – Driver Car 22
Its high speeds and technical corners are what makes Spa so challenging – and what makes it such a good ‘driver’s’ circuit. The weather can be an issue, but our cars have gone well in most conditions this season. Our test was good and therefore, if we get a consistent run I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t challenge for another win.”
Jamie Campbell-Walter – Driver Car 22
“I’ve raced at Spa a lot over the years, but even though I know the circuit it’s still a challenging place to drive. We tested there after Paul Ricard and things went very well. In fact, we came away very pleased. Having won a round already this season – even though we were third across the line – it’s difficult not to aim for first. However, a good haul of points is what the team is after and, with the other car now carrying 50 kilos of success ballast, it is likely to be down to us to get into a high scoring position this time round.”
Allen Orchard – Team Manager
“I was very pleased with the way the cars performed at the test at Spa earlier this month. Of course, it’s difficult to measure how good our pace really is until race weekend. We know that the Maseratis and Fords will be tough to beat as they are likely to suit this type of circuit, but we like to be the team that pulls a few surprises – as we’ve done before!.”
James Rumsey – Team Principal
“Every circuit we’ve been to this season has been different from the last, so it’s a real challenge for the team to get the cars set up, bearing in mind we have very little historical data to go on. Therefore, this makes the results we’ve achieved so far even more rewarding and I’m looking forward to see if we do another good job at Spa.”