EXCELLENT SECOND PLACE FOR NISSAN IN ACTION PACKED GT1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OPENER IN ABU DHABI
Podium finish follows on from earlier Nissan dominance in Qualifying Race
Richard Westbrook and Peter Dumbreck secured an outstanding podium finish in the opening race of the 2011 GT1 World Championship in Abu Dhabi, as the no.22 JRM Racing Nissan GT-R finished a close second in an absolutely enthralling race at Yas Marina.
The British duo started on the front row of the grid after a very impressive performance during the earlier Qualifying Race, but it was the Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi, driving the no.20 Sumo Power GT and starting from fourth position, who powered into the lead in the opening stages of the race after enjoying a lightning fast start.
This meant it was a Nissan one-two after the first corner, with the Ford GT that started the race in pole position dropping down to third, and it stayed that way until the 25th minute, when the Ford passed by Dumbreck into 3rd. However, it was the opening of the mandatory pit window that truly changed things dramatically.
The no.20 Sumo Power GT enjoyed a fast pit-stop, but was involved in a brutal collision with the no.41 Marc VDS Ford GT in the pit-lane that incurred the Ford with a drive-through penalty for reckless driving. Unfortunately though, it also damaged the Nissan GT-R enough to eventually force the car's retirement.
Happily though, the no.22 JRM's pitstop, in which Westbrook switched places with Dumbreck, was much smoother, and the GT-R came back on-track in second place, behind the new leader, the no.3 Hexis AMR Aston Martin. Coming into the car, Westbrook had a massive six second deficit to make up to the DB9, but his strong and aggressive driving style soon closed the gap to under 0.5 seconds in the final few laps. Despite the efforts though, there was to be no way through for the Nissan, although there was certainly no disgrace in clinching a highly impressive second place.
Elsewhere in the field, the no.21 Sumo Power GT of David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter had a good revival in the latter stages of the race to finish within the points positions in 9th place, but the German pairing of Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr, after competing strongly for the first half of the race, found themselves down the field after running into trouble after being hit by another car and sustaining a puncture. The no.23 JRM eventually finished the race in 14th place.
Earlier in the day during the Qualifying Race, Nissan recorded an incredible result, truly dominating proceedings to finish the session with three Nissan GT-Rs in the top 4 of the field. Westbrook and Dumbreck lead home the Nissan pack in second place, followed closely by Krumm and Lucas Luhr, with Zonta and Bernoldi in fourth.
With the cars starting on the grid in 5th (no.22), 7th (no.20), 8th (no.23) and 9th (no.21) following yesterday's Qualifying session, the Qualifying Race started in dramatic fashion, with a collision at the front of the grid in the early corners causing chaos on-track, and forcing two cars to retire. Fortunately, none of the Nissans were affected, and instead benefitted greatly, all moving up at least two places. However, after getting such a stroke of luck early on, the GT-Rs were to take full advantage which plenty of skilled driving, eventually looking comfortable in finishing 2nd (no.22), 3rd (no.23) and 4th (no.20).
Speaking after the Championship Race, a delighted Richard Westbrook said: "It goes without saying that this is a brilliant result for Peter and I personally, for JRM Racing, and for Nissan. I have to give huge credit to the pit technicians for a brilliant pit-stop that got me out in front of the Marc VDS into second. At that stage I was running on cold tyres, but somehow I managed to hold him off and retain my position. After that, it was all about trying to catch the Aston Martin up ahead, but unfortunately there was just no way past!
"Now, with such a great weekend under our belts, we have to look forward to Zolder, a track that I really like and which holds good memories for me from the past. We've got a great platform to build from, and I'm confident we can push to go one better in the next round of the the Championship."
Team-mate Peter Dumbreck added: "Everyone involved with the JRM team and Nissan is over the moon with this result - we certainly can't be unhappy with two second places in one day! This result shows how far we've come with the Nissan GT-R in the past year. Last year we were slightly inconsistent, but this year the signs are all there that we can really move forward and challenge for the title in 2011."
The cumulative points scored in today's Qualifying and Championship Race sees Nissan currently sitting in second place in the manufacturers championship, behind Aston Martin, after round one.
The next round of the 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship visits Zolder, Belgium, between the 8-10th April.