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2011 FIA GT1 World Championship - Round 5 - Silverstone

Race Report

The fifth round of the 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship took place at the redesigned British Silverstone Circuit on June 4th and 5th, 2011. The Qualifying Race was won by the No.7 Young Driver Aston Martin DBR9 of Tomas Enge and Alex Müller. Victory in the Championship Race went to the No.23 JR Motorsports Nissan GT-R of Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr, who also placed second in the Qualifying Race.

 

Qualifying Race

The No.7 Aston Martin of Young Driver AMR driven by Tomas Enge and Alex Müller triumphed in the Qualifying Race at Silverstone. Krumm and Luhr in the No.23 Nissan GT-R of JR Motorsports finished second, ahead of the No.11 Exim Bank Team China Chevrolet Corvette Z06 of Mike Hezemans and Andreas Zuber.

Luhr, starting from second on the grid, stole a march on the first placed No.11 Exim Team China Corvette to lead the race going into turn one, ahead of the No.7 Young Driver Aston Martin and No.11 Chevy Chevy Corvette. However, the Nissan jubilation turned into despair when, jostling for position in the middle order, David Brabham in the No.21 Sumo Power GT-R clipped the No.8 Young Driver Aston Martin of Stefan Mücke, which in turn was knocked into the No.22 JRM Nissan GT-R being driven by Peter Dumbreck. The collision was heavy enough to instantly end the races of all three cars. The No.41 Marc VDS Ford GT was another first lap casualty, while its sister No.40 car retired late on to complete a difficult race for the Ford squad.

As the first half of the race progressed, Luhr was looking strong in defending his lead and racing line from the second-placed No.7 Aston Martin. Further back, things were comfortable for fourth-placed Enrique Bernoldi in the No.20 Sumo Power GT-R, who had a six second lead over the ensuing No.4 Aston Martin of Hohenadel and Rossi whilst himself trying to chase down the No.11 Corvette.

These were the positions that were held as the all-important pit-window opened, and as has so often been the case this season, the pit stops were to prove vital to the final outcome of the race. There was confusion as to when the leading No.23 JRM car should stop, and the delay of one lap proved costly as the team dropped to second after the pit window. With particularly quick stop, Tomas Enge and Alex Müller in the No.7 Aston Martin made the most of the race leading GT-R's confusion to snatch the lead at the halfway stage. The No.20 Sumo Power GT with Warren Hughes at the helm came out retaining its fourth position.

The second half of the race saw Krumm in car No.23 pushing hard to whittle down the 5.5 second gap that the No.7 Aston Martin had built up once the post-window order had been established, whilst Hughes in the No.20 Nissan GT-R also drove aggressively to make inroads on the Chevy Corvette in third position. However, despite the best efforts of both drivers, the gaps to the cars ahead were to ultimately prove unassailable.

The No.23 JR Motorsports Nissan GT-R secured second position, while Zuber in the No.11 Exim Bank Team China Corvette maintained third position. Enrique Bernoldi and Warren Hughes in the No.20 Sumo Power GT GT-R finished in fourth, replicating their results from Sachsenring three weeks ago in finishing fourth.

Speaking afterwards, Luhr said: "I got a really good start that saw me go into first position after turn one, and then I found I'd built up a bit of a gap to second at the end of lap one. My plan was to conserve the tires a bit having established a lead, but on lap two there was something slippery on the track, and I had to battle to keep the GT-R on track. After this the Aston Martin was close on my tail throughout my stint in the car."

"The car felt pretty good today, and there's no doubt that on some parts of the track, such as at Copse and Becketts, we were dominating out there. We'll be starting on the front row of the grid for the main race tomorrow, which of course gives us a really great chance of doing well again. Overall, it's a good day's work."

Lucas' team-mate, Michael Krumm added: "I tried everything I could to eat into the No.7 Aston's lead, but it just wasn't enough in the end. I think it's fair to say that the race was won in the pits today – the Aston had an amazingly quick stop. The GT-R felt really quick out there, particularly in sector two, although there's still room for us to improve. I'm driving first tomorrow – if I can get a start similar to the one Lucas had today then I think we'll be in with a chance of the win."

Commenting on his fourth place, Bernoldi said: "I had a nice start, although I was very happy to stay out of the chaos early on lap one. After establishing myself in fourth it was a case of maintaining my tyres, as I knew I couldn't keep pace with the top three, but at the same time, I was still able to pull away from the rest of the pack. Fourth puts us in a strong position for tomorrow – with a good start and a bit of luck, we'll be looking to place even higher in the Championship Race."

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