, Goldenport Park Circuit, Beijing, China
GT1 QUALIFYING FRUSTRATION FOR NISSAN ON UNFAVOURABLE BEIJING CIRCUIT
Drivers still positive ahead of Saturday’s double-header
It proved to be a challenging FIA GT1 World Championship Qualifying session for Nissan at Beijing’s Goldenport Park Circuit, as a combination of crashes and a short track with minimal straights unsuited to the GT-R’s superior flat-line speed led to only one of the four Nissan cars going through to Q3 for the first time this season. The no.21 Sumo Power GT finished the session as top ranked GT-R in eighth, with the no.22 JRM Racing a further place back in ninth. Elsewhere, the current Drivers’ Championship leading no.23 JRM and the no.20 Sumo Power GT will start tomorrow’s Qualifying Race from 16th and 18th on the grid respectively after both span out into the gravel.
A change from the regular GT1 weekend race format for round nine of the Championship meant that Qualifying took top billing today ahead of a busy Saturday containing both the Qualifying Race and the main event Championship Race just hours apart from each other. However, there was also to be drama in the earlier Pre-Qualifying session, when Nick Catsburg lost control of the no.20 Sumo Power GT and ended up in the protective tyre wall.
Happily Catsburg emerged from the car unscathed, but the amount of repair work required in a short amount of time meant that there was no way the no.20 could be fixed in order to take part in Qualifying. This resulted in just three GT-Rs starting the session, but only eight minutes into Q1 the number of Nissans left was down to two, as Lucas Luhr lost traction whilst going over a curb, with his no.23 JRM becoming deeply embedded in the gravel.
Thankfully, the no.21 Sumo Power GT and no.22 JRM secured their passage into Q2, and both were looking competitive as the 14 remaining cars on the grid vied to put one of the eight fastest lap times on the board, and with it claim a place in the Q3 shootout. Ultimately, Peter Dumbreck in the no.22 fell short by a few milliseconds to finish in ninth, but a great lap by David Brabham saw the no.21 through in fourth.
For Q3, the car was again in the hands of Jamie Campbell-Walter, who was placed as high as second at the session’s mid-point. However, with the no.21 running out of grip in the latter stages, the experienced Briton eventually had to settle for eighth place.
Speaking afterwards, Jamie Campbell-Walter, no.21 Sumo Power GT said: “It was good that we made it into Q3. Brabs did a great job in Q2 and our crew also did fantastically to get the car set up for Qualifying and help us to be the fastest of the Nissans. We may have even finished higher if my last flying lap hadn’t been red-flagged because of another car going off. If we can make up a few places in the first race tomorrow then, in the second, we can aim for the podium that we should have had in the Championship Race in Ordos.”
Campbell-Walter’s team-mate, David Brabham added: “For these sorts of tracks, I find you have to think of them as street circuits, with no run-offs. It is a difficult track for us, but I was really pleased to get Jamie and I into Q3. We are still making adjustments to the car and I think we can still achieve a good result tomorrow from eighth.”
Notes to editors:
2011 Nissan drivers
Sumo Power GT
Nissan GT-R No.20: Nick Catsburg (NL) Enrique Bernoldi (Bra)
Nissan GT-R No.21: Jamie Campbell-Walter (GB) David Brabham (Aus)
Nissan GT-R No.22: Peter Dumbreck (GB) Richard Westbrook (GB)
Nissan GT-R No.23: Michael Krumm (Ger) Lucas Luhr (Ger)