Sumo Power GT team secure top ten position
After being the quickest two cars on the grid during the mid-week tests in advance of round one of the FIA GT1 World Championship, the Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-Rs ended the first qualifying session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi in ninth and 19th places, before proceedings were brought to a premature close due to a red flag incident.
Following the Balance of Performance test on Wednesday, where lap times and speeds were assessed in order that weight and power penalties could be applied in an attempt to equalise the performance of all 24 cars on the grid, the two Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-Rs emerged in first and second places. Whilst this would be a perfect result in most racing scenarios, this impressive pace meant that 30 kilos of ballast was allocated to both cars prior to the qualifying session.
Other than another pair of Nissan GT-Rs run by the Swiss Racing Team, this was the heaviest weight penalty applied to any other car. Although the team were unhappy with the outcome – as they felt they had carried out the Balance of Performance test completely in keeping with the Championship regulations – they had no choice but to comply with the requirements of the FIA officials.
Qualifying for the FIA GT1 World Championship is split into three sessions, with the slowest eight cars dropping out in the first and another eight in the second. This leaves the remaining eight cars to battle it out for the leading grid positions in the third and final session.
Michael Krumm was the first Sumo Power GT driver on track in car 23, with Warren Hughes in car 22. Right from the word go, Krumm was on the pace and within two laps set a time quick enough to occupy third place.
After a pit stop to change onto fresh tyres, Krumm found that the new rubber was not providing him with the grip he expected and dropped to ninth place. Then, with only two minutes to go, the session was red-flagged after Natachsa Gatchnag crashed her Matech Ford GT at the end of the Yas Marina Circuit’s long straight.
Hughes opted to start qualifying on new tyres and found he was experiencing the same traction issues as Krumm. Added to this, an adjustment to his car’s rear wing was found to create a little too much down-force, which consequently had an effect on his overall speed. He therefore finished the session in 19th place.
Due to the accident causing extensive damage to the safety barriers, officials cancelled the day’s remaining two qualifying sessions and announced that the outcome of today’s qualifying would establish the grid positions for tomorrow’s (Saturday) first of two races.
The cut-short qualifying also meant that Peter Dumbreck and Jamie Campbell-Walter did not have an opportunity to drive, other than in the pre-qualifying runs earlier in the day.
Allen Orchard – Team Manager:
“It’s been a frustrating day ever since we were allocated our 30 kilos of ballast in respect of our Balance of Performance tests. I was impressed to see that we were able to set a top three time during the session and I think we did well to finish with one of our cars in the top ten. Although Natachsa Gatchnag has broken her leg, all of the team are pleased to hear that she is okay. We wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing her back on the grid soon.”
Michael Krumm – Driver car 23:
“The car felt good on scrubbed tyres, and I was pleased that even with the ballast on board we were able to claim a top three time on the second flying lap. The new tyres felt quite different and it was obvious that I was going to have to do a few laps to bed them in, but didn’t get the chance.”
Warren Hughes – Driver car 22:
“We elected to use a new set of tyres for the qualifying session and they felt just like an old set. Without the grip I was getting in the earlier pre-qualifying runs I felt I couldn’t push and, with the session cut short there was just no opportunity to improve.”