The first event in the 2010 FIA GT1 World Championship took place this weekend at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. The two NISSAN GT-R teams: Sumo Power GT and Swiss Racing Team had eventful races today where they found themselves at the heart of the action. All that remains now is for the teams to enjoy some down time in Abu Dhabi while they wait for the international air space to re-open so they can fly home!
.QUALIFYING RACEThe first qualifying race of the new FIA GT1 World Championship got underway at 1600rs today. Peter Dumbreck was the top-placed NISSAN GT-R starter in the No.23 car, followed by Max Nilsson in No.4, Henri Moser in No.3 and Jamie Campbell-Walter in 19th position.
The drama began at the first corner when one of the Maseratis spun and collected the No.7 Aston Martin. This signalled the first official outing for the NISSAN GT-R Safety Car, which came onto the track to slow the field as the damaged cars limped back to the pits. Another casualty was Sumo Power GTs Peter Dumbreck who unluckily picked up a puncture on the formation lap. He pitted as soon as he could for a new rear left tyre, without losing too much time due to the Safety Car being out.
The start was like a Formula Ford race, said Campbell-Walter, when he finished his stint. There were cars going everywhere. I managed to overtake three cars though during my run: two Lamborghinis and an Aston I think!
At the end of lap three the Safety Car pulled into the pits and the race was finally on. By lap five the NISSAN GT-Rs were running in formation in 13th to 16th positions, the order being Campbell-Walter, Moser, Nilsson and Dumbreck. Just a few laps later the order was the same but the NISSAN GT-Rs were spread over positions 11 to 14.
When the pit window opened the first NISSAN GT-Rs to pit were No.s 3 and 23, followed a lap later by 4 and 22. The stops went smoothly and once all the cars had pitted the four NISSAN GT-Rs were still in formation from 12th to 15th until Swiss Racing Teams Karl Wendlinger put a move on the No.25 Lamborghini, passing him for 11th place.
The order stayed steady for a while and three of the NISSAN GT-Rs were locked into their own battle, providing all the track action for the spectators.
When the chequered flag fell Wendlinger was the top NISSAN GT-R driver in ninth place, with Michael Krumm 11th, Seija Ara 12th and Warren Hughes 13th.
In the main race of the day the four NISSAN GT-Rs all got away well at the start but on the very first lap Karl Wendlinger took a hit, which pushed him down the order.
I got a good start, said Karl. But as I went into the first corner the white Maserati seemed to almost stop right in front of me. I had to go wide and I got hit which knocked me down to eighth.
That wasnt the end of the drama for the NISSAN GT-Rs. Michael Krumm was spun around and had to pit for a new tyre but it was Seiji Ara who came off the worst on lap two.
I managed to overtake a lot of cars on the first lap, he said. I went to the outside when someone spun in front of me at the end of the back straight and I was hit by an Aston. This damaged my steering and I had to retire from the race.
Once the race settled down the three remaining NISSAN GT-Rs were running consistently. Wendlinger was eighth in the Swiss Racing Team car and the two Sumo Power cars were running in 15th and 19th places respectively with Warren Hughes and Michael Krumm at the wheel.
The pit stops started on lap 13 and Jamie Campbell-Walter, Henri Moser and Peter Dumbreck joined the race. After everyone had pitted the order was Campbell-Walter 12th, Moser 16th and Dumbreck 17th. The positions then stayed fairly static until the chequered flag. Moser improved to 14th and Dumbreck to 16th but the top-finishing NISSAN GT-R was the No.22 Sumo Power GT car of Warren Hughes and Jamie Campbell-Walter.
In the qualifying race we were struggling for pace with an oversteering car, said Campbell-Walter. We made a couple of changes to our car between the races, going for a softer rear spring and a couple of other things and this really improved the consistency. Its a real shame that we havent scored any points but Warren and I were the last guys in, apart from Seiji, so to be top NISSAN GT-R is great. This is a new team so the guys should be congratulated and well done to NISMO who have built a beautifully reliable car.