Double second first time out for JRM Racing
It was a successful start to the season for JRM Racing in the first round of the 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship, when Richard Westbrook and Peter Dumbreck scored a second place in both the first and second of today's one-hour races at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. For team-mates Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr in car 23, the day started well when the German paring finished third in race one, but a difficult race two saw them cross the line in 14th place. Qualifying
The competition between the 18 cars taking part in the opening round of this global sports car championship started with a qualifying session on Friday evening. A concerted effort by all four JRM Racing drivers meant that both cars went through to Q3 - where the positions for the top eight places are decided - with Westbrook/Dumbreck qualifying in sixth and Luhr/Krumm in eighth.
Both JRM Racing Nissans got away well from the rolling start, with Westbrook - who was first to drive car 22 - moving up to third place as other cars became tangled in a first corner incident. However, Krumm in car 23 had to take evasive action and slotted into fifth place when all the turn-one activity died down.
The following laps saw Westbrook right behind the Ford GT of Fredrik Makowieki, with never more than a second separating the two cars, right up until the mandatory mid-race pit stop to change drivers and tyres. Krumm also maintained his position behind the two Sumo Power GT Nissans and, following a quick stop by the JRM Racing crew, Luhr emerged from the pits in fourth.
Whilst Dumbreck, now in car 22, continued the fight with the Ford GT ahead of him - now driven by Maxime Martin - Luhr was gaining pace and passed Enrique Bernoldi in his Nissan on lap 23. Although Dumbreck tried, he also could not get past the Ford and, for the remaining eight laps, the top three positions stayed the same, seeing JRM Racing with two cars in the top three in the team's first ever appearance.
With the finishing positions of race one dictating the starting positions for race two - the Championship Race and where most of the points are scored - the team were delighted to see both its Nissan on the front two rows of the grid. As the lights went green, Dumbreck was quickest off the rolling start, so much so, he thought he might cross the line before the car in pole position and momentarily lifted off.
This allowed Bernoldi to get past and into the lead, with the JRM Racing driver slotting into second. In a repeat performance of the race one, Dumbreck hounded the leading car, right up until the pit-stop and again, was unable to find a way past.
Luhr also had to lift-off the throttle at the start, when he found himself sandwiched between two cars, the subsequent loss of momentum seeing him drop to seventh on the opening lap. With his Nissan running well, he started to fight his way back up the field but, on lap ten, an Aston Martin lunged into the side of his car so hard that it punctured the left-front tyre.
The German had no choice but to come into the pits to change a wheel - frustratingly, just one lap before the window opened for the compulsory wheel and driver-change. Krumm took over for the second half of the race, but with so much time lost, there was little chance of finishing in a points-scoring position. However, he discovered that car 23's suspension had been damaged in the earlier incident and, even with it handling strangely, he still went on to set a series of impressive lap times and brought his car home in 14th place.
Meanwhile, due to a drive-through penalty because Ricardo Zonta - now driving the leading Nissan - was hit by the Ford GT of Makowieki in the pit lane, Westbrook emerged from his and Dumbreck's pit-stop expecting to be in the lead, but because of a super-fast tyre change by the Hexis Aston Martin crew, Stefan Dusseldorp was now in front by a margin of nearly seven seconds.
Lap-by lap, Westbrook reduced the gap until, on lap 27, he was less than half-a-second behind the leader and now in a position to overtake. But, try as he might, he could not find a way past the Aston Martin. He eventually crossed the line just 0.474 seconds behind and delighted to take a double second-place for JRM Racing in his first event for the team.
This result puts Wesbrook and Dumbreck second in the Drivers' Championship standings and JRM Racing second in the Teams' Championship. The second round of the FIA GT1 World Championship takes place at Zolder in Belgium on 9th & 10th April.
As a mark of respect following the country's recent disasters, both of the team's Nissan GT-Rs carried stickers which read: 'don't give up Japan'. In addition, all team members wore black armbands during race-day.
Peter Dumbreck (Car 22)
"It was great to finish second in race one, which set us up well for a front-row position in race two. My start was so good I lifted, as I thought I might have gone too soon, which meant Enrique (Bernoldi) got by. The car felt good so I could stay with him, but as the tyres got hotter I couldn't make the move to get by. You have to take the points that are on offer and that's what Richard and I did today and we intend to do the same for the rest of the year."
Richard Westbrook (car 22)
"If someone had said to me before this weekend I would have had two second places in my debut with JRM Racing, I would have been delighted. When I took over from Peter in this evening's championship race I was surprised to be six seconds behind the leading Aston Martin and, although I was able to catch it, there just wasn't the chance to get past. I'm pleased to say that everything is working well with Peter and the whole team, so I'm looking forward to Zolder."
Michael Krumm (Car 23)
"I was pleased with the strong performance of the Nissan GT-R today and to finish third in the first race. The second race was not what it should have been, but even with the car not driving in a straight line after Lucas was hit at the end of his stint, I was still able to lap at a good pace, which shows the potential is there when everything is right."
Lucas Luhr (Car 23)
"I was very happy to finish on the podium in my first ever race in the Nissan. I was therefore hoping that the second race would be just as good, but I was squeezed out at the start. Perhaps I backed off too much as I dropped to seventh, but when I got hit and had to make a pit stop because of a puncture, that was it for my race. However, because of the performance today, I am optimistic about the rest of the season."
Nigel Stepney (Team Manager and Chief Engineer)
"For the first round of the championship the whole team did a great job, especially Peter and Richard for driving two strong races and finishing in second place twice. Michael and Lucas went well in the first race, but the problems in the second denied them another podium. We have a few things still to improve on for this year, but all-in-all today's been a good start to the season."
James Rumsey (Team Principal)
"All of the team did a really good job: The preparation of the cars was excellent and they performed well. I'm really pleased with car 22's results. It was a shame about the problems that slowed car 23 in the second race, especially having finished third in the first, but to lie second in the Drivers' and Teams' Championship is a good position to be in after the opening round."
-source: jrm racing