FIA GT1 World Championship Round 10: Qualifying Race and Championship Race Reports

5th December 2010
San Luis, Argentina

Sumo Power GT did all they could to score a top-three position in the FIA GT1 World Championship Teams’ standings in this weekend’s two races at the unique Potrero de los Funes circuit near San Luis in Argentina. Although both Nissan GT-Rs performed well in the near 30-degrees of sunshine, it was not the end to the season the team were hoping for, as both its cars retired in the final Championship Race.

Michael Krumm and Peter Dumbreck in car 23 were battling for a top-five place in both this morning’s Qualifying Race and the afternoon’s Championship Race, until accident damage after contact with another car caused their car’s power steering to stop working. Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell-Walter had overcome a frustrating start to the weekend and were looking good for a top-ten place in the main Championship Race, until a gearbox problem intervened in the latter stages.

This morning’s Qualifying Race saw both Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-Rs make good starts; Krumm in car 23 from 7th on the grid and Hughes in car 22 from 18th. Both drivers headed to the outside of the track to keep out of trouble, as one false move was likely to end in one of the walls that line almost all of the 3.9-mile (6.3 km) circuit that encircles a volcanic lake.

As it transpired, their caution was justified, as the Aston Martins that occupied the front row came together at the first corner and the remainder of the grid all had to take evasive action. This played into the hands of the two Sumo Power GT drivers and they crossed the line after the first lap in 5th and 13th places respectively.

With other incidents occurring in front of him, Hughes moved up a further two places on the second lap and another one on lap three, before the Safety Car was deployed after a Lamborghini had struck one of the walls in a narrow part of the circuit. After three laps behind the Safety Car, there were then just three laps before the mandatory pit stops.

First to pit was Krumm, and, after a blisteringly quick wheel-change by the crew, Dumbreck emerged on the track in third. However, for car 22 the stop took a little longer, as the sand and dust on the surface of the pit lane caused Hughes to overshoot his mark and more than 10-seconds were lost during the change-over of driver and wheels.

Campbell-Walter did all he could to recover the situation, but the grip levels on the track coupled with the closeness of the walls meant his usual spree of overtaking was not forthcoming. He therefore crossed the line in 13th place.

Meanwhile, Dumbreck was holding his own at the front, until an overtaking move meant he had to come off the racing line and picked up sand on the sticky tyres. With reduced grip, he found he could not get the power down a few corners later and suddenly found himself being passed by three other cars. Although doing what he could to claw back the positions, it was over a lap before the tyres worked effectively again and he ended the race in sixth place.

With a car ahead of him receiving a penalty, Dumbreck in car 23 started from fifth on the grid in the Championship Race, with Campbell-Walter in car 22 13th. This time, a clean start by all saw no incidents in the first few corners and Dumbreck was able to hitch up with the leading group of five cars battling for the lead.

Keeping out of trouble, Campbell-Walter had dropped a place but was happy with the way his Nissan was handling and therefore aimed to move up the order as the race went on. Positions throughout the field remained constant for the next seven laps. But then, on lap eight, Dumbreck spun on the tight hairpin at the bottom of the circuit, a combination of sand blown onto the track and hot temperatures doing their worst as far as grip was concerned.

Thankfully keeping his car away from the walls and other cars, he got going again – albeit in 17th place. Now up to 12th, Campbell-Walter was the first of the two Sumo Power GT Nissans to stop for the compulsory mid-race visit to the pits, with Hughes re-joining the race in 10th.

Dumbreck came in to swap with Krumm a lap later, who set about making up as many places as he could. Battling hard, he managed to climb to 13th, but damaged the front of his Nissan after coming into contact with another car –the subsequent impact causing the power steering to stop working.

With the car becoming more and more difficult to manoeuvre, Krumm had little choice but to retire after lap 18. Little did Hughes know that just four laps later he too would be ending his race in the pits, when noises started coming from his car’s gearbox on lap 24, which then quickly turned into a mechanical problem.

For Sumo Power GT, who have been challenging for a top three position in the Teams’ Championship since the middle of the year, not scoring points in the final round meant they ended the season fifth, with Krumm and Dumbreck ninth and Hughes and Campbell-Walter 13th in the drivers’ standings. However, the whole team is delighted with the outcome of its first ever season, the highlights of which were two race wins, nine podium finishes and the awarding of the Tourist Trophy.

Both of the races were won by Fredric Makowiecki and Yann Clairay in the Hexis AMR Aston Martin. Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini were crowned the Drivers’ Champions, with Vitaphone Maserati claiming Teams’ Championship honours.

For more information on Sumo Power GT, visit www.sumopowergt.com

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

Santa Pod and Marangoni to partner again for the 2011 season

Santa Pod Raceway, the home of European drag racing, has announced that it is once again to partner with Marangoni, the respected Italian tyre manufacturer for the 2011 season.

The deal sees the tyre firm taking title sponsorship of two of Santa Pod’s key events; The Marangoni Fast Show on Sunday 27th March and Marangoni USC on the weekend of the 5th to the 7th of August, in addition to branding around the FIA sanctioned venue. The package also includes significant coverage of the two television shows that are created around each event and will be aired on Motors TV and Eurosport throughout the year.

Commenting for Santa Pod, Caroline Day, Marketing Manager said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Marangoni back for another year with us. It’s always very gratifying when we can see that previous sponsorship placement has worked and the client has clearly derived value from it. Next year, both shows look set to draw even bigger crowds, thanks to greater pre-publicity and an even better line up, plus our TV format is also drawing bigger viewing figures each year, meaning that Marangoni’s presence at ‘The Pod will be very hard to miss.’

For Marangoni, UK Brand Manager Greg Graham said, ‘Santa Pod is a fantastic fit for the Marangoni brand. Not only in terms of the sheer number of enthusiasts that pass through its gates each year, but also because both the show-goers and Santa pod staff are passionate about the tuning and motorsports scene. When we first took brand space and title sponsorship here two years ago, it helped us to quickly achieve a higher level of brand recognition in several key markets, and undoubtedly assisted us when we forged our exclusive supply arrangement with Kwik Fit. Our goal for 2011 is to further enhance the visibility of the Marangoni brand in the UK consumer marketplace, in turn assisting our partners at Kwik Fit to maximise the brand’s potential.  We can see already that our shows promise even more core content for true petrolheads this year, so I hope that you’ll all join us on Europe’s most famous drag strip!’

For more details please click to www.santapod.com or call the team on 01234 782828.