, Paul Ricard Circuit, Le Castellet, France
Nissan looks to build on Navarra positives as GT1 World Championship comes to Paul Ricard
JRM Racing and Sumo Power GT, the two teams running the Nissan GT-R in this year’s FIA GT1 World Championship, will be heading into the final European race of the 2011 series at France’s famous Paul Ricard Circuit full of optimism after a relatively successful Nissan outing last time round in Spain.
Nine days ago, David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter took an excellent third place in the Navarra Championship Race behind the wheel of the no.21 Sumo Power GT, whilst two of the other three GT-Rs on the grid also claimed top-ten finishes in the race, defying some pre-weekend expectations that the twisty and relatively slow Spanish circuit would not at all be favoured to the Nissan’s strengths.
There were some low-points to the weekend, not least the misfortune of Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr, whose no.23 JRM was the victim of opening lap incidents in both the Qualifying and Championship Races. However, there is a feeling that with a little more luck this time, a repeat of last year’s Paul Ricard Championship Race (when Krumm and Peter Dumbreck took second place in the no.23 Sumo Power GT) is a more than realistic aim.
Built in La Castellet, Southern France in 1969 by the French drinks magnate after which it is named, the Paul Ricard Circuit was originally dominated by a 1.8km long straight (the Mistral straight) that followed immediately into the high-speed Signes corner. The straight’s length was reduced by 600m as part of a number of safety-conscious changes after the death of Formula One driver Elio de Angelis at Paul Ricard in 1986, but despite this, the circuit is still renowned for being fast and with plentiful potential overtaking points: attributes that certainly play to the Nissan GT-R’s strengths. At 5.81km (3.63 miles), the course is a full mile longer than Navarra, with one less turn than its Spanish counterpart (14 to Navarra’s 15).
Speaking ahead of the race, Michael Krumm said: “It was encouraging to have had a relatively good pace at Navarra, on a circuit that did not really favour us. I finished second last year at Paul Ricard, and it’s personally one of my favourite circuits. The GT-R should perform well here and I don’t see why Lucas and I or one of our team-mates shouldn’t be able to get into the top three at least.”
David Brabham added: “I like the Paul Ricard circuit. I raced there in an Opel Lotus in 1988 and F1 in 1990. I’ve also tested there many times in preparation for Le Mans. Our good result at Navarra doesn’t really change our approach, but it does give us more confidence that we are making the right kind of progress.
“I thought I could predict when the Nissan will be fast at different tracks, but it’s not so easy. However, I feel we will have a strong race this weekend. The incredible amount of hard work by the boys in the team is starting to come together, so we are looking forward to continuing where we left off in Spain.”
Notes to editors:
Paul Ricard race timings
Qualifying Race: 16.15 – 17.15pm (CEST), Saturday 16th July
Championship Race: 15.15 – 16.15pm (CEST), Sunday 17th July
Races can be followed live at http://www.gt1world.com/gt1tv
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)
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