FIA GT1 World Championship – Round Seven, Autódromo Internacional do Algarve – Qualifying Race Report
After a faultless performance in the Qualifying Race, driving Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-R number 23, Michael Krumm and Peter Dumbreck recorded their first FIA GT1 World Championship victory at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve. Starting from second on the grid, they battled at the front of the field throughout the 34-lap race, taking the lead five laps from the end and going on to win by a margin of 2.4 seconds.
Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell-Walter in car 22 also drove an exceptional race. A power steering problem during qualifying put them 22nd on the grid, but were able to make up a very impressive 13 places to finish ninth.
With the Portimão circuit being a relatively new venue for all of the competitors, the team elected to try a different set up for each of its cars in Friday’s Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying sessions. The time sheets revealed that car 23 performed well, setting the third and fourth fastest times respectively whereas car 22 never got inside the top 10. Therefore the team decided to reconfigure the car to match the set up of car 23.
However, a power steering problem on the first lap of today’s qualifying session, car 22 was forced into the pits and, although the mechanics fixed the problem and got Campbell-Walter back on track, there was no time left for a quick lap. This meant that Hughes would start 23rd and last on the grid. However, for Dumbreck and Krumm things went well and they posted a time good enough to put them in 3rd place.
With the second-fastest Mark VDS Ford GT being sent to the back of the grid for a technical infringement found during post-qualifying checks, the two Sumo Power GT Nissans each moved up a place. Therefore, Krumm, who was first to drive car 23, started on the front row in 2nd place and Hughes in car 22 in 22nd
Krumm made a clean start and kept to the outside of the track for the downhill run into turn one, exiting the corner in second place behind the Corvette of Alexander Margeritis. Hughes, on the other hand, blasted past four cars and ended the first lap in 17th place.
As the Corvette edged away, lap-by-lap Krumm concentrated on keeping the Maserati of Michael Bartels behind him for the remainder of his stint, the three cars never separated by more than four seconds. Meanwhile, Hughes had quickly acclimatized himself to his car’s new handling characteristics and was overtaking others at the rate of almost one car per lap. Therefore, by the time he pulled into the pits for the compulsory driver and tyre change, he was up to 12th place.
Krumm came into the pits a lap later after a flawless drive having consolidated his second place and, following a super-fast, 25.8-second pit-stop, Dumbreck took over. Once all teams had ‘pitted’, he found himself back in second and closer to the Corvette, now with Marc Hennerici behind the wheel.
Campbell-Walter continued where Hughes left off – which was no mean feat, as he had done very few laps in the car so far this weekend – and, although losing a position whilst getting used to his Nissan’s new set-up, he was able to climb a further three places to cross the line in ninth place.
At the front of the field, things were beginning to look good for Dumbreck, ashe started to reel-in Hennerici from lap 20 onwards – the Corvette’s tyres now past their prime. However, the Maserati – now being driven Andrea Bertolini – was beginning to close the gap, forcing Dumbreck to defend as he attacked Hennerici.
Sizing-up the situation for a few laps, Dumbreck made him move at the start of lap 29, faking a move to the right and then moving to the left to go round the outside of Corvette in turn one and then holding position to take the inside line for turn two. Dumbreck then pulled away from his two pursuers, his case helped as Hennerici held up Bertolini for another lap.
For the remainder of the race, the whole of the Sumo Power GT team held it breath as it watched Dumbreck drive a faultless five laps to cross the line and score his and Krumm’s first FIA GT1 World Championship victory.
The team now looks forward to tomorrow’s (Sunday) main Championship Race, scheduled to take place at 15.30, with its cars starting in ninth and in pole position.
Michael Krumm – Driver Car 23 “It was a perfect race for us, which is just what we wanted after the last two rounds. The team did a great job in setting up the car, qualifying went well, I had a good first stint, the team did a fantastic pit stop and Peter drove a perfect second half of the race. So, if you put all these things together this is the result. I’m now looking forward to the main race tomorrow.”
Peter Dumbreck – Driver Car 23 “The car felt fantastic today. Once I could see the Corvette’s tyres going off, I knew we were in with a chance. It was always going to be difficult getting past and I wanted to make sure I kept it clean and didn’t cause any problems – not only so we could win in a fair way – but to make sure I didn’t jeopardise my second place. This result sets us up perfectly to score even more points tomorrow.”
Warren Hughes – Driver Car 22 “After qualifying I would have been delighted to think we would finish ninth. The new set up worked well right from the start and it didn’t take long to get used to the way the car was handling. Seeing that when we had a clear track we were setting the same lap times as car 23, we’re now in a good position to improve on our position in the main race.”Jamie Campbell-Walter – Driver Car 22“I was worried that, having not done many laps before the race this weekend, I was going to struggle to get used to the car, but as soon as I left the pit lane it felt fantastic. It’s great that we’ve been able to turn our disappointment of qualifying into a top ten finish.”
Nigel Stepney – Team Manager “It’s great to have won today. Everything went well for us and the circuit really suited our cars. Michael and Peter drove a perfect race and others around us seemed to have more problems with tyre wear. We were able to get the set-up right too and this proved to work for both cars. It would be interesting to see how car 22 would have got on if it had started further up the grid. We’ll see tomorrow.”
James Rumsey – Team Principal “I’m delighted with the outcome of today’s race. To win is fantastic and it was a great performance by everyone in the team. Also, for car 22 to make up 13 places in the race, is also an excellent achievement. With one car on pole and another in ninth, we’re in a good position for tomorrow and, having now moved upto fourth in the Teams’ Championship, another haul of points would be great.”