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No.23 JRM Secures Paul Ricard Double For Nissan With Brilliant Gt1 Championship Race Win


- 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship Round 7 - Championship Race Report -

July 17th Paul Ricard Circuit (France)
The German duo of Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr followed up Saturday’s GT1 Qualifying Race victory in the no.23 JRM Racing Nissan GT-R with more of the same in today’s Championship Race at Paul Ricard, leading from beginning to end and putting themselves back on top of the GT1 Drivers’ Championship standings in the process. The no.21 Sumo Power GT of David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter clinched an excellent fourth place after making up seven grid positions during the course of the race, whilst there were also good drives from Enrique Bernoldi and Nick Catsburg in the no.20 car. The only sour note of the afternoon for Nissan came with the retirement of the luckless no.22 JRM, which encountered suspension problems late on in the race when challenging for third place.

A large number of penalties applied by the race stewards in relation to the Qualifying Race meant a starting grid that bore little resemblance to Saturday’s final race positions, with the first placed no.23 JRM the only Nissan to start where it finished. The no.22 and no.21 were both penalised three positions for cutting track corners, although due to similar penalties being incurred by several other cars around them they actually ended up only dropping two places (no.22) and one place (no.21) respectively. This meant that the four GT-Rs started the race in first (no.23 JRM), sixth (no.22 JRM), seventh (no.20 Sumo Power GT) and 11th (no.21 Sumo Power GT) positions.

A clean race start saw Krumm comfortably retain his first position going into the all-important and often incident-packed first corner in the no.23 JRM, with the no.22 and 20 Nissans doing likewise in sixth and seventh. The no.21 Sumo Power GT was the only GT-R to lose a position on the opening lap, falling back one to 12th place, but this would only prove to be a catalyst for some highly-skilled and pulsating driving from Campbell-Walter, who made four excellent passing manoeuvres to leave his car in a comfortable eighth place come the opening of the pit window on 25 minutes.

At the front, having worn the fresh tyres in, the no.23 JRM started to pull away from the chasing no.7 Aston Martin, establishing a four second lead ahead of the mandatory tyre and driver changes, whilst Westbrook’s stint behind the wheel saw the no.22 JRM make a good overtaking manoeuvre to come into the pits in fifth.

The main Nissan pit stop beneficiary this time round was the no.21 Sumo Power GT, with some brilliant work by the car’s pit crew allowing the fresh behind the wheel Brabham to come out two places up the order in sixth. There were satisfactory stops for the two JRMs, with the no.23 and no.22 JRM retaining first and fifth respectively, whilst the no.20 Sumo Power GT found itself losing a couple of places to come back out in ninth.

The opening stages of the second half of the race saw the no.23’s lead to second place slashed to nearly nothing as the no.8 Young Driver Aston Martin, having overtaken it’s no.7 team-mate in the pits, managed to close right up to Luhr’s tail: there followed several tense laps before the GT-R managed to pull away and build a near two second gap again. Slightly further back, Dumbreck was having a strong drive behind the wheel of the no.22 JRM, easily overtaking the no.41 Ford GT for fourth place, whilst Bernoldi, having closed a substantial gap to the cars in front of him, made two great overtakes in the final quarter of the race, lifting the no.20 Sumo Power GT up into seventh.

Just when everything was looking rosy for Nissan there was to be unfortunate late drama as the no.22 JRM, which has endured a terrible run of bad luck throughout the length of this season’s Championship, suffered a suspension problem whilst pushing hard for third place, ending its race challenge instantly. Dumbreck’s loss promoted Brabham’s into fifth, and the Australian was to go one better and over take the Ford for fourth on the penultimate lap - an astonishing achievement given the no.21’s start on the sixth row of the grid. Up ahead meanwhile, Luhr was able to withstand a renewed push from the no.8 Aston Martin in second to claim the no.23 JRM’s second GT1 race victory in as many days.

Speaking afterwards, Michael Krumm said: "It’s a brilliant feeling to get a double victory here at Paul Ricard and jump back into the lead in the Drivers’ Championship - the GT-R felt really great out there, and it handled very comfortably throughout my stint behind the wheel.

“The most important thing for me today was to have a good getaway and get through the first corner without an accident, which I did. As expected, Tomas (Enge) in the following no.7 Aston gave me a very hard time during the first few laps, and it took a while to get the tyre pressures up. However, after about three or four laps I found the grip and I was able to start building a little bit of a gap: I wanted to make as big a gap as I could for the driver change in case anything went wrong. Overall it really has been a perfect weekend - now it’s on to the great unknown of China, which we’ll obviously be approaching with a lot of confidence.”

Michael’s team-mate in the no.23 JRM, Lucas Luhr, added: "When I left the pits I had quite a good gap but evidentally the no.8 Aston pushed quite hard on his out lap, because I soon saw him coming up behind me in my mirrors and I thought ‘this is going to be close!’. After a few laps the tyre pressure came up and then I could control the pace more, but I still didn’t want to risk pushing too much, as we saw what can happen with tyre degradation on this track yesterday: I didn’t overstretch.

“Once again, Michael and I need to thank the whole team for their hard work, and for giving us the wonderful tools with which we can win races. Two wins is a great feeling!”


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