FIA GT1 World Championship Round Nine: Qualifying Race Report

Interlagos: 27th November 2010

The qualifying race at Interlagos in Brazil secured the Sumo Power GT team’s ninth podium finish of the season out of the 17 races so far. After starting from fifth on the grid, Michael Krumm and Peter Dumbreck brought their no. 23 Nissan GT-R home in a very impressive second in today’s Qualifying Race for round nine of the FIA GT1 World Championship.

Team mates Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell Walter in car 22 experienced a difficult race. Firstly, contact with a Ford GT on lap two and the resulting spin, dropped Hughes from 12th to 19th place. And then Campbell-Walter suffered from a lack of grip as his tyres succumbed to the aggressive nature of the circuit, but battled on to cross the line in 14th place.

Earlier in the week, before the track action began, Dumbreck and Campbell-Walter, together with Fellow Nissan drivers Karl Wendlinger and Henry Moser from the Swiss Racing Team, attended an event at the world-famous Corinthian’s football team’s training ground in Sao Paulo. They met up with a group of children from the Time do Povo charity that provides sports facilities for disadvantaged kids in the area. After displaying their ball-skills on the pitch, the drivers presented a cheque for $10,000 donated by Nissan, to patron of the organisation and Brazilian football legend Roberto Carlos.

Friday was to be the first time the team’s two Nissan GT-Rs took to the iconic Brazilian track, with the morning’s Free Practice session seeing all four Sumo Power GT drivers take turns behind the wheel, it being the first ever laps of the track for Krumm and Dumbreck. Having to run tyres that were used for the previous race in Spain, Hughes and Campbell-Walter’s impressive third place in Navarra meant they had 20 kilos of success ballast and a set of very worn tyres. In contrast, the set on car 23 were in much better order and third fastest time was a satisfying start to the driver’s Interlagos debut.

With regulations requiring teams to use tyres from their weekend’s allocation for Pre-Qualifying in the afternoon, even after making changes to car 22’s set-up the team opted for just a handful of laps with each car. A sixth-fastest time for car 23 followed by 17th for car 22 was regarded as a satisfactory outcome, bearing in mind that the first 17 cars were separated by less than a second. It was also interesting to note that the top-four cars were all piloted by Brazilian drivers.

Bright sunshine welcomed the teams to the track for this morning’s Qualifying session, where Dumbreck and Campbell-Walter drove Q1. Ninth and 13th respectively was just what was needed for both Sumo Power GT cars to go through to the second session with the fastest 16.

A storming lap by Krumm saw car 23 second and through to Q1, whereas Hughes could not find enough grip and ended the session 12th – the issue later being traced to a faulty front damper. Dumbreck then went on to set a time good enough to see him and Krumm start the first race of the weekend in P6. However, due to an infringement in Spain, Ford GT no. 5 was relegated three places, which meant that car 23 moved up to P5.

With turn one a notorious corner, starting drivers Krumm and Hughes both elected to stay out of trouble, which meant that Krumm conceded two places at turn five. His caution was then rewarded when two laps later two cars ahead of him tangled and he moved back up to fifth.

Behind him, Hughes was holding station, but on lap two a Ford GT turned in on him at turn five and, with contact to car 22’s front left corner, the two cars span to a halt. Thankfully, no mechanical damage was done and Hughes got going again, albeit now in 19th place.

With others around them fighting between themselves, there were more spins and incidents, which allowed Krumm to rise to fourth on lap five and Hughes up to 18th on lap six before overtaking to gain 17th a lap later and then 16th on lap 14. The compulsory pit stops half-way through the race were made by car 23 on lap 16 and car 22 on lap 17.

Once back on the track, Dumbreck, now behind the wheel of 23, set about catching the car ahead of him and, over the course of the next ten laps he reeled him in and, with a masterly move at turn one, drove around the outside of the Lamborghini to claim third place on the entrance to turn two. With only a few laps left to go, Dumbreck had settled for third, until officials announced that a pit-stop infringement meant that the Maserati in second place had been allocated a drive through penalty.

With over 30 seconds dropped during the enforced visit to the pits, Dumbreck grasped second place on lap 30 and, following a faultless final eight laps, the team was delighted to collect its ninth podium finish of the season. It was also pleased that the second place finish will see car 23 start from the first row of the grid for tomorrow’s Championship Race.

For Campbell-Walter, his afternoon was a frustrating one. The extra 20 kilos of weight, added to a loss of grip during his stint as his tyres appeared to wear rapidly, meant he was relieved to cross the line in 14th place. He and Hughes also look forward to tomorrow’s race, where they are confident that with a few changes they can claim a top-ten finish and score all important points towards the Teams’ Championship, Sumo Power GT currently holding third place and still with a mathematical chance of winning the title.

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