CHAMPIONSHIP RACE - Series of pit issues hamper GT-Rs' progress during race
The no.22 JRM Racing Nissan GT-R of Peter Dumbreck and Richard Westbrook followed up their Qualifying Race second place with a strong repeat performance in today's FIA GT1 World Championship Race in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, allowing JRM to claim outright top position in the Teams' Championship standings in the process. Further back in the pack, pit stop problems saw both the no.21 Sumo Power GT and the no.23 JRM lose several places during the pit window to finish seventh and ninth respectively, whilst there was disappointment for the no.20 Sumo Power GT, which retired from the race in the early stages.
The GT-Rs began the race second (no.22), third (no.21), fifth (no.20) and 11th (no.23) following on from the Qualifying Race, and just as yesterday, it was another clean start. Nick Catsburg, starting in the no.20 Sumo Power GT, found himself down a position to sixth as the tightly-packed grid jostled for favoured track position in the early corners, but it was a more enjoyable race opening for Lucas Luhr in the no.23 JRM, who quickly overtook two cars to move into ninth. At the front, both the no.22 JRM, with Westbrook behind the wheel, and Jamie Campbell-Walter's no.21 Sumo Power GT managed to retain their starting grid positions.
Catsburg's afternoon was to get much worse moments later when his car spun out into the gravel trap, instantly ending the no.20's race. The incident had the knock on effect of bringing out the Safety Car as the stranded vehicle was towed out of the way, tightly bunching the field once again, and by the time full race conditions had resumed, the pit window was nearly upon us. The remaining three GT-Rs were to pit in second (no.22), third (no.21), and ninth (no.23).
The pit lane was ultimately where much of the day's action was to happen for Nissan, as the no.21 Sumo Power GT and the no.23 JRM, pitting in quick succession, were both to have slow stops due to issues with changing the wheels. Meanwhile, the no.22 JRM, hoping for a quick stop to leap-frog the no.41 Marc VDS Ford GT into first, was left frustrated after entering the pit lane directly behind the damaged and slow travelling Belgian Racing Ford GT, costing the Nissan several vital seconds.
The no.21 Sumo Power GT, with David Brabham now behind the wheel, re-emerged four places down in seventh place and the no.23 JRM Racing, with Krumm at the helm, three down to ninth, whilst Dumbreck's no.22 JRM remained in second. However, a very fast stop from the 22's pit crew suggested that it could have been even better had not the delay occurred, given that the car came out just a single second behind the leading Ford GT.
The second half of the race saw a strong drive from Krumm to bring the no.23 JRM back up three places into ninth, whilst Brabham battled hard to overtake the sixth placed no.37 Lamborghini in the no.21 Sumo Power GT, but to no avail. As yesterday, there was a tight battle for the lead between the no.22 JRM and no.41 Marc VDS, with the two cars again clear of the rest of the field, but the GT-R was never quite within striking distance to overtake over the GT.
Speaking afterwards, Richard Westbrook, no.22 JRM Racing, said: "Overall it was a very good, clean race. It was pretty even between ourselves and the Ford GT: it was a case of us not quite having enough to get close enough to overtake, and them not quite having enough to pull away.
"The way the race was going, our only real chance to claim the lead was in the pits. Unfortunately I reckon we lost about five seconds coming in behind the Belgian Racing Ford, and we'd have come out in first otherwise as it was a great pit stop by the team. It wasn't to be, but it's been a very good weekend for us nevertheless."
Richard's team-mate, Peter Dumbreck, added: "It's nice that we've had a change of luck after a run of misfortune this season, and that's down to a lot of hard work from all of the no.22 JRM team. We didn't expect to be that quick here prior to yesterday, so it's been great to be on pace with the Ford- which we knew would be quick here- and much quicker than anyone else. It's been a fantastic weekend for us overall.
"It's also great that JRM lead outright in the Teams' Championship. We knew we had to get a result here with the no.23 carrying so much weight because of its success at Paul Ricard, so it's excellent that we were able to do our bit."
Round nine of the GT1 World Championship, in Beijing, China will take place between the 9th - 10th September, 2011.