FIA GT1: JRM Racing overcomes the challenges of Sachsenring
Sachsenring, Germany,14th May 2011- JRM Racing were aware that last week’s double-race victory in the Algarve was unlikely to be repeated this weekend in Germany. However, the team were able to overcome the challenges that the narrow and twisty 3.7km (2.299-mile) track at Sachsenring near Chemnitz presented and emerged from round four of the FIA GT1 World Championship with Peter Dumbreck and Richard Westbrook in car 22 scoring a sixth and seventh place finish and Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr in car 23 scoring an eleventh and a ninth.
With all Nissans on the grid allocated a 15-kilo Balance-of-Performance weight penalty (in accordance with the Championship regulations) following their excellent showing in Portugal last week – plus car 23 having to carry 35 additional kilos of success ballast after winning the Championship Race – the team’s pre-race predictions for this weekend were very much on the conservative side.
After both cars got through to Q3 and into the shoot out for the top eight places on the grid, things looked more promising for the two, one-hour races that lay ahead. However, with car 23 having used three sets of its allocated tyres, the team elected to start P8 on the grid and it did just one lap without trying to set a competitive time. Car 22 however, set a more than respectable time and therefore started P5 in the afternoon’s Qualifying Race.
It was almost certain that the narrow and tightening nature of the first corner would see contact: and in race one that’s what happened. Fortunately, Dumbreck in car 22 and Krumm in car 23 were able to stay out of trouble and, having avoided the two Ford GTs that had hit each other, found themselves in sixth and seventh as the Safety Car was deployed for two laps.
With the field now well and truly bunched up when racing recommenced, the two JRM Nissans circulated in a line of other cars and, after a number of battles during the first half, held station right up to the mid-race pit stops to change drivers and tyres. The two JRM stops were carried out in good time, with Westbrook – now in car 22 – rejoining the race in fifth and Luhr, who had swapped with Krumm, in eighth.
During the second half, both drivers were passed by the eventual race-winner Fred Makowiecki in a Ford GT, who seemed to be on a different pace than the rest of the field. Although coming under pressure by his pursuers, Westbrook maintained position until the finish. However, Luhr found that his car’s extra weight was causing his tyres to deteriorate lap-by-lap and he soon became powerless to stop others getting by, uncharacteristically dropping to a frustrating 11th by the time he crossed the line.
As it had done in race one, the first corner once more became the scene of a multi-car pile-up. But, having adopted a policy to stay away from other people’s accidents, both the JRM Nissans avoided the incidents, even though it meant that Westbrook had to take to the gravel on the outside of turn one. The upshot of the chaos saw Luhr in car 23 end the first lap in seventh and Westbrook in 12th, albeit now behind the Safety Car which had been activated in order for the stricken cars and resulting debris to be cleared from the track.
Four laps later the racing recommenced, at which time rain begin to fall, but thankfully it stopped as quickly as it started. Even though the lap times between those that remained in the race were rarely more than a second apart, there were few changes of position throughout the field before the mandatory mid-race pit stops.
Luhr was first of the two JRM Nissans to come in for tyres and to swap drivers, whereas Westbrook stayed out and, now running without traffic, put in a series of quick laps before stopping. This strategy, coupled with another fast pit stop by car 22’s tyre-change crew, meant that Dumbreck rejoined the race in eighth: a jump of four places. However, Krumm – now in car 23 – was not so fortunate and returned to the track in ninth.
A few laps later, a car ahead suffered a puncture and both JRM drivers moved up a place. Then, just when it looked like positions were final, once again car 23’s additional weight forced its tyres go past their prime and a Ford GT slipped by on lap 38 out of 42. This resulted in Krumm crossing the line ninth, whilst Dumbreck came home in seventh.
Although not the results JRM Racing was looking for, especially for Krumm and Luhr who were hoping for a good showing on home ground, the team was pleased that both its Nissan GT-Rs ran perfectly throughout the weekend and were loaded onto the truck for the journey back to the UK without a scratch – which was more than could be said for many of the other cars on the grid.
The team now looks forward to round five of the FIA GT1 World Championship, which takes place at Silverstone on 4 & 5 June and where it anticipates its Nissan GT-Rs can use their power and torque to far better effect than they were able to do so this weekend.
Peter Dumbreck (Car 22)
“It’s been a tough weekend for us. Considering we never seemed to get the balance of the car how we wanted it, I think that to come away with points and no damage is a good result. We know we can be on the pace when the conditions allow, as we have shown in the past, so we just have to put this weekend down to experience and get back to where we should be at the other tracks.”
Richard Westbrook (car 22)
“The two races saw the usual GT1 start. Chaos! So I’m glad we made it through in both cases, although today I ended up on the gravel. I was able to make up positions in the race and a good strategy and fast pit stop allowed us to jump two places. So to finish seventh today has allowed us to score some points, which is important.”
Michael Krumm (Car 23)
“It’s been a difficult weekend. It seemed that the extra 35 kilos of success ballast we carried for winning in the Algarve made things worse than we thought. After a good qualifying performance, we were disappointed with 11th in race one and then 9th in race two, with just two points scored. However, Silverstone is next where I am sure we can turn things around and pick up more points.”
Lucas Luhr (Car 23)
“It was clear that the extra weight we were carrying after winning the last round killed the tyres towards the end of both races. I don’t think we could have done anything more than we did. I was happy with the team, the car – in fact everything except for the results – and on another track things would be different, I am sure about that.”
Nigel Stepney (Team Manager and Chief Engineer)
“We knew that this weekend was going to be a tough one for us – especially with 15 kilo of extra weight and car 23 carrying 35 kilos of success ballast. Therefore, there were no surprises with what happened. I’m very pleased that both our cars ran 100% and we came away from the weekend without a mark on either them. For me, at this track, that’s a result!”
James Rumsey (Team Principal)
“Yes, it’ been a frustrating weekend for the team, but we should not be too concerned, as we had no problems at all and I’m confident it was just the nature of the circuit and the additional weight that made the difference. I’m sure that at Silverstone and at other tracks, we will see our cars at the front again, which means we our title hopes are still very much intact.”