FIA GT1: Kuwaiti driver Khaled Al-Mudhaf makes history with Nissan SumoPower GT1 team in Qatar
The Sumo Power GT team were in Qatar last week for a test and demonstration day at Doha’s Losail Circuit. The event was organised in association with the country’s Nissan distributor; Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana and designed to promote the JRM Group (the holding company for Sumo Power GT), the FIA GT1 World Championship and the Nissan GT-R in this part of the Middle East.
The team used what was originally NISMO’s test and development car, the first GT1 Nissan GT-R ever to be built, which had been transported to Qatar from Japan. Attending the test was Sumo Power GT’s Jamie Campbell-Walter, who was joined by Michael Krumm, Lucas Luhr and Peter Dumbreck, from the sister Nissan team, JRM Racing.
During the morning, the four drivers tried the Sumo Power liveried ‘T-car’ and the 5.38km Losail track for the first time, in temperatures approaching 40 degrees. Khaled Al Mudhaf, owner of G-Force Auto Worx in Kuwait, was first of the two guest drivers to try the car, and the first driver from the Middle East region to test with the team. A seasoned competitor in the Middle East, he was so impressed with the performance of the Nissan that he is likely to appear in a JRM Group-built car later this year.
Also testing in Qatar was UK driver Luke Hines. The team were keen to see how the former BTCC and GT competitor coped with the car, with the view of appointing a stand-by in the absence of one of the current Nissan GT-R GT1 pilots and if an additional test driver is ever required. Hines quickly acclimatised to his new surroundings and, although not quite on the pace of the four GT1 regulars, impressed the team with his approach and consistent lap times.
During the lunch break the team opened the track to the media, who drove road-going Nissan GT-Rs around the circuit and had the exclusive experience of Campbell-Walter, Krumm, Luhr and Dumbreck providing them with fast passenger-rides and tuition. The Qatar press also got to see the 2012 Nissan GT-R VVIP model for the very first time, which is the highest specification version of the car ever produced, especially for the Middle-Eastern markets.
Following more testing with the GT car in the afternoon, it was the turn of guests and VIPs to take the wheel of the roads cars in the evening, with the race-drivers again imparting the benefits of their skills. Then, under the circuit’s floodlights, the team ended the day with a session of night-time running in the race car.
The team’s next public appearance will be round three of the FIA GT1 World Championship, when its two cars – which are now fully repaired following the start-line crash at Zolder – race at Portimao in the Algarve next week and then at Sachsenring in Germany a week later.
James Rumsey (Executive Director, JRM Group)
“Overall I’m very pleased with the way the event ran. This was the first of its kind for us and for the Losail circuit, so it was great that it was so well received. The day was very well attended and there is no doubt that everyone who came is now very aware of our team, the FIA GT1 World Championship and Nissan GT-R. We made some excellent connections during the day and I am sure we will see benefits from our first visit to Qatar.”
Andy Barnes (Sumo Power GT Team Principal)
“We were delighted with the reception we received in Qatar. We’ve already had some great feedback and therefore, we hope to be doing more there – and in the Middle East – and are already looking forward to going back again. In the mean time, we have the next two rounds of the championship to contend with in Portugal and Germany.”
“I couldn’t believe it when i got the call to come over and test the GT1 car. Its a dream come true for me to drive this car, as its the first one ever developed its a historical moment. This has been a really amazing experience and now im completely fired up for a new season in GT racing. This opportunity has opened a new door for me and I hope to go progress further into GT racing this coming season. I learned so much from the team and I cant wait to put that into practice”.
“It was good to get back into a GT1 car after two year. The Nissan felt really good and, after a few runs, I felt I was getting to grips with it. There was quite a lot to learn in a relatively short space of time, with an unfamiliar car, an unfamiliar track and unfamiliar team, but with more time to acclimatise, I could tell that the potential is there. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope to be working with Sumo Power GT and the JRM Group again in the near future.”