FIA GT1 World Championship - Round Nine Preview Goldenport Circuit, Beijing, China 9th & 10th September 2011
Following a successful round eight of the FIA GT1 World Championship last weekend in Ordos, JRM Racing now lead both the Teams' and Drivers' points tables, as they head to Beijing for round nine and the second of two events in China.
Driving Nissan GT-R number 22, Peter Dumbreck and Richard Westbrook scored two resounding second places in both Saturday's Qualifying Race and Sunday's main Championship Race at the Inner Mongolian circuit. From green light to chequered flag, they held their position and, although not able to overhaul the eventual winner, on both occasions they finished well ahead of the rest of the field.
The Brit's German team-mates in car 23, Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr, had a far more challenging weekend: first of all, due to a double-victory in round seven at Paul Ricard, they were required to carry 60 kilos of success ballast for Ordos. Secondly, their progress was hampered in both races when a wheel-nut failed to locate properly during their mandatory mid-race pit stop.
The upshot of their eventful two-days meant they finished 11th in race one and 9th in race two. Even so, their results were good enough to see them retain their lead in the Drivers' Championship and, when combined with the points scored by their compatriots in car 22, JRM Racing was elevated from second to first in the Teams' Championship.
Although not the finishing positions Krumm and Luhr were looking for in Ordos, it does mean that the amount of success ballast they carry this weekend drops to 20 kilos, this significant reduction a potential benefit in the chase to retain theirs' and JRM Racing's Championship lead. Added to this, if Dumbreck and Westbrook maintain their current form - even though car 22 will now have 25 kilos bolted on-board - hopes are high that the team with achieve its goal this weekend.
With the 2.4km circuit - which is situated 26km from the centre of Beijing - more twisty, more bumpy and far shorter than that of last weekend's venue, the whole team is aware that it's going to be tough to do well at Goldenport. Added to that, the track is quite narrow in places and has very few run-off areas, so a cautious approach as well as speed may well be the order of the day.
With a high-profile demonstration event taking place on Sunday evening outside the Beijing National Stadium (better known as the Birds Nest) especially organised to showcase the FIA GT1 World Championship, the schedule of activity at Goldenport has been compressed into two days, rather than the usual three. This sees the grid of 18 GT1 cars take to the track for the first time at 09.30 on Friday for Free Practice, followed by Pre-Qualifying at 12.00 and Qualifying at 15.45.
Both of the one-hour races take place on Saturday, with the Qualifying Race getting underway at 10.45, followed by the Championship Race at 15.45. Times given are local to the circuit and seven hours ahead of BST and six ahead of CEST.
Michael Krumm (Car 23)"It was good to come away from Ordos leading the championship, so we go to Beijing in a strong position. However, I have no idea what the Goldenport circuit is going to be like. It's going to be difficult to predict what's going to happen as I hear it's a tight and bumpy track, but I'm sure this will make it a very exciting race for the spectators! Because of the results last weekend, we now go from 60 to 20 kilos of success ballast. We won at Paul Ricard carrying that amount of weight so, as always, the target this weekend will be to win."
Lucas Luhr (Car 23)"I really don't know what to expect this weekend. I've heard all sorts of stories about this circuit, but you never know what it will be like until you drive it. The car was going very well last weekend at Ordos, so without mistakes and with less weight, I think we can be as competitive - even though the track is quite different."
Richard Westbrook (car 22)"Following the race at Ordos, we go to Beijing with more belief and confidence in what we can achieve. However, with none of us knowing the circuit, we really do step into the unknown this weekend. But, we are determined to do well and make sure we help keep our team at the top of the points table."
Peter Dumbreck (Car 22)"It was great to be back, competing at front of the field in Ordos, so I know we were driving well and our car was in good shape. If we work hard on the set ups - like we did last week - then I see no reason why we can't be challenging for a podium position again this weekend."
Nigel Stepney (Team Manager and Chief Engineer) "Having now seen the Goldenport track and walked around it, it's a lot shorter, more bumpy and quite different than the Ordos circuit. With it being so narrow and with very few run off areas, there's certainly no room for mistakes. The priority will be to qualify well, as overtaking will be very difficult. Our set up worked well in Ordos, so we need to ensure we continue the trend this weekend. And of course, there will be no room for error during the pit stops."
James Rumsey (Team Principal)"As we are leading both the Teams' and Drivers' Championships with just two rounds to go, we need to have both cars in good points scoring positions to make sure we keep our title hopes alive for the final round in Argentina. Therefore, this weekend is critical, although there's no doubt that at a circuit like Goldenport, predicting a result and to implement a strategy that works in qualifying and both races is going to be difficult. But we are going to give it all we've got to achieve what we set out to do at the beginning of the season: win the Championship!"