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2011 FIA GT1 World Championship - Round 1 - Abu Dhabi

Race Report

Championship Race

The No.3 Hexis AMR Aston Martin DBR of Stef Dusseldorp and Clivio Piccione sealed the victory in the Championship Race at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, holding off a late charge by the No.22 JR Motorsport Nissan GT-R of Peter Dumbreck and Richard Westbrook, who took another second position finish on their first weekend in GT1 World Championship.

Third place went to the No.38 All-Inkl Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV of Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock, which also had to fight hard in the closing stages, with both the No.4 Hexis Aston Martin DBR9 of Christian Hohenadel and Andrea Piccini and the No.8 Young Driver Aston Martin of Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke finishing within two seconds on the road.

The race began with the No.41 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT of Maxime Martin on pole position and Peter Dumbreck in the JR Motorsport Nissan GT-R alongside on the front row. At the start, the No.20 Sumo Power GT Nissan of Enrique Bernoldi shot through from the second row to take the lead at the first corner, with Dumbreck getting into turn 1 before Martin. 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. Further back Stefan Mücke in the No.8 Young Driver AMR AstonMartin DBR9 was storming through the field from 15th, ending the opening lap in 8th place.

At the front Dumbreck was pressurising the leading No.20 Sumo Power Nissan GT-R of Bernoldi, while Martin in the No.41 Ford GT was close behind the second placed No.22 JR Motorsport Nissan GT-R. For lap after lap the three cars circulated in formation, each trying to push the other into a mistake. Their battle allowed Winklehock and Piccione to close up to make it a five way battle for the lead as the pitstops approached. On lap 13 Martin finally got past Dumbreck's Nissan at T18 for second place just as the pit window opened.

Bernoldi in the No.20 Nissan GT-R, Martin in the No.41 Ford GT, Piccione in the No.3 Aston Martin DBR9 and Mücke in the No.9 Aston Martin all pitted together. The Sumo Power pitcrew went to work and got their car, now with Ricardo Zonta at the wheel, turned round in quick time. However the Marc VDS crew were even quicker and as the Nissan approached the Ford pit, Makowiecki dived out in front, but the two cars collided. They rubbed wheels for several metres before the Ford went through the tunnel ahead of the Nissan. Zonta's No.20 Sumo Power Nissan GT-R was damaged and had to retire from the race. Makowiecki was given a drive through penalty for the incident.

Meanwhile the Hexis AMR pit crew had turned the No.3 car round and when the pit stops finished, Stef Dusseldorp found himself leading the race six seconds ahead of Richard Westbrook in the No.22 JR Motorsport Nissan GT-R. Westbrook then closed the gap and spent the next 20-minutes trying to pass the flying Dutchman in vain. By lap 27 he was less than half a second behind, but was unable to find a way past and came home second.

"If someone had said to me before this weekend I would have two second places in my debut with JRM, I would have been delighted," Richard Westbrook enthused. "I'm pleased to say that everything is working well with Peter and the whole team, so I'm looking forward to Zolder."

Teammate Peter Dumbreck was bullish about his squad's prospects, saying: "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. It was great to finish second in race one, and then my start (in race two) was so good I lifted as I thought I might have gone too soon! The car felt good so I could stay with Enrique (Bernoldi), but I couldn't make the move to get by."

After a rollercoaster weekend, the No.38 All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV of Marc Basseng and Marcus Winklehock finished in third place to record the team's first ever podium finish in the FIA GT1 World Championship.

The No.21 Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-R of David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter had a revival in the later stages of the race to finish within the points positions in 9th place. Luhr and Krumm in the No.23 JRM Nissan GT-R meanwhile had dropped slightly down the order at the start, before suffering misfortune when an on-track collision punctured the left-front tyre and caused suspension damage. The duo were able to carry on, however, taking the chequered flag in 14th position.

Despite these problems, Lucas Luhr was enthusiastic about the team's potential, saying: "I was very happy to finish in my first ever race in the Nissan. I was hoping the second race would be just as good, but when I got hit that was it for my race. However, because of the performance, I am optimistic about the rest of the season."

Luhr's team-mate Michael Krumm echoed his sentiments, explaining: "I was pleased with the strong performance of the Nissan GT-R, and to finish third in the first race. The second race was not as it should have been but even with the car not driving in a straight line I was still able to lap at a good pace, which shows the potential is there when everything is right."

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