BRILLIANT GT1 CHAMPIONSHIP RACE THIRD FOR NO.23 JRM RACING
Amazing turnaround in fortunes as all GT-Rs finish within top eight at rain-soaked Goldenport
Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr finished an excellent third in the FIA GT1 World Championship Race at Goldenport Park Circuit to cap off an incredible day's racing for Nissan in Beijing, and with it retain the no.23 JRM Racing pair's grip on the GT1 Drivers' Championship. The other three GT-Rs in the field also all put in great showings to secure top eight finishes, with the no.20 Sumo Power GT crossing the line in sixth, the no.22 JRM seventh, and the no.21 Sumo Power GT eighth.
A change from the normal GT1 weekend race format for the penultimate round of the Championship saw both the Qualifying Race and Championship Race occurring on the same day, just hours apart. Nissan needed to get off to a flying start in the morning's Qualifying Race after a challenging Friday Qualifying session saw the GT-Rs lining up on the race grid much further back than has become customary this year: eighth (no.21), ninth (no.22), 14th (no.23) and 18th (no.20). Thankfully they did just that on a very wet, rain-soaked circuit, as with competitors spinning out all around them due to the adverse weather conditions, the Nissans were able to expertly motor through the field.
Pick of the GT-R bunch was the no.23 JRM, which made up 10 places from its starting position to finish the race in fourth due to strong drives from Krumm and Luhr and a great tyre change from the pit crew, whilst the no.20 Sumo Power GT also made up an impressive eight places during the race to finish in p10. Rounding things off for Nissan were the no.22 JRM in seventh, and the no.21 Sumo Power GT in 11th.
Things improved even further for the Sumo Power GTs ahead of the afternoon's Championship Race as a grid penalty for a competitor car lifted the cars up a place each to ninth (no.20) and 10th (no.21) on the grid. However, the race itself was to forego the traditional rolling start in favour of a start behind the Safety Car due to the track being so heavily saturated, and when the Nissan X-Trail guiding the cars round finally did go back into the pits it wasn't to be for long, as instantly, in the space of half a lap, three competitor cars span out.
In the brief amount of time that race conditions were active, Nick Catsburg, in the no.20 Sumo Power GT, found himself able to make up three positions to sixth, but there was less luck for Richard Westbrook, whose no.22 JRM was forced to pit due to a puncture, dropping the car to the back of the pack. That meant that the GT-Rs reconvened behind the once again deployed Safety Car in fourth (no.23), sixth (no.20), 10th (no.21), and 15th (no.22), but the no.22 JRM soon gained a place back to 14th when the no.37 Lamborghini span out.
The all-important pit window was to open just a minute after the Safety Car re-emerged back into the pits, and as ever it was to have a bearing on the cars' running order. The no.23 came out a position down behind the no.41 Marc VDS, but Krumm, fresh behind the wheel managed to quickly regain the car's fourth place. Enrique Bernoldi's no.20 Sumo Power GT, passed to drop to seventh just before the window's opening, found itself up a position to sit sixth again, whilst its no.21 sister car remained in 10th. However, it was the no.22 JRM that was by far the biggest pit window beneficiary - up a massive seven places to seventh.
The second half of the race saw both the no.22 JRM and no.20 Sumo Power GT drop back a place after being overtaken by the rampaging no.12 Corvette, whilst David Brabham, in the no.21 Sumo Power GT, moved up a place to ninth. Up front, Krumm had closed the gap to just over half a second to the third placed no.4 Hexis Aston Martin, but when the Safety Car was yet again sent out on track with five minutes of the race left following a spin by the no.12 Corvette, it looked like the race result was sealed.
However, there was one more twist, and crash, to come as the no.4 Aston lost traction just a minute after the Safety Car's reintroduction, elevating all four GT-Rs up a place, and sealing an excellent podium spot for the German duo of Krumm and Luhr.
Speaking afterwards, Lucas Luhr, no.23 JRM Racing said: "This is a fantastic result for us, especially considering that we didn't pass Q1 in Qualifying for the first time this season yesterday - to finish fourth and third in today's two races is great, and we must thank Nissan and the JRM crew for all their hard work.
"I think that the weather helped us today. It was really tough going keeping the car on track, even at low speeds behind the Safety Car, and things really went our way with what happened to the other cars ahead of and around us. With a bit of luck we were able to claim third in the race where it really mattered."
Luhr's team-mate, Michael Krumm added: "I am very happy with the result. I can honestly say that I pushed as hard as I could out there today, but at times I felt it was a bit risky and I was in danger of hitting the pit wall. The GT-R felt great out there, and I'm delighted to still be leading the Championship after what have been two very tricky races in China.
"Now it's on to the final race of the season in Argentina. I think it's a track that's likely to be suited most to the Astons, but at the same time the GT-R has improved a lot since we raced at San Luis last year. It won't be easy, but we will work hard to match their pace there and hopefully we will be able to get the job done."
Round ten- the final round of the 2011 GT1 World Championship- will take place in San Luis, Argentina between the 4th - 6th November, 2011.