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2011 FIA GT1 World Championship - Round 3 - Algarve

Race Report

Championship Race

Nissan's historic success in the Qualifying Race at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão was followed up by further domination in the Championship Race, as the German pairing of Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm claimed victory in the No.23 JR Motorsports Nissan GT-R, and Jamie Campbell-Walter and David Brabham, in the No.21 Sumo Power GT, secured an excellent third place. The podium was completed by Stefan Mücke and Darren Turno in the No.8 Young Driver Aston Martin DBR9 finishing in second position.

The leading three Nissan GT-R's started the race first, second and third on the grid, and it was the No.22 JRM Nissan GT-R driven by Richard Westbrook that emerged from the opening corner maintaining its first place starting position.

The experienced Briton was to soon make his fresh tires count, establishing an 8.5 seconds lead over Luhr's second placed No.23 JRM GT-R by the 25 minute mark, whilst Campbell-Walter in the No.21 Sumo Power GT-R, suffering from excessive tire pressure which affected the grip and handling of his car, drove expertly to hold off the strong advances of the No.8 Aston Martin challenging for third.

Further back, Enrique Bernoldi in the No.20 Sumo Power GT that started from 13th following a five place grid penalty held over from the Zolder Championship Race, raced strongly to move as high as eighth place in the field as the pit window opened.

With all the mandatory driver and tire changes complete, the No.22 and No.23 JRM Nissan GT-R's found themselves retaining first and second place respectively, whilst both of the Sumo Power cars lost a position each to emerge in fourth (No.21) and ninth (No.20). Perhaps most significantly of all though, the pitstop of the German driver couple Luhr and Krumm was several seconds faster than that of their JRM teammates, meaning that the No.23 rejoined the race just over a second behind the No.22.

It wasn't long before the No.23 Nissan GT-R, now piloted by Michael Krumm, managed to overtake Peter Dumbreck's No.22 JRM, which had developed a suspected transmission problem seemingly out of nowhere, and the Briton was to be dealt an even more severe blow only moments later, as the same problem forced his retirement on lap 27, with only 12 minuted remaining.

That, unfortunately, left only three Nissans in the race, with Brabham's No.21 Sumo Power GT moving up into third due to Dumbreck's misfortune, and Ricardo Zonta's No.20 Sumo Power up into eighth. Despite the best efforts of Brabham and Zonta to challenge the cars in front of them, this is how the race was to finish, although the No.20 Sumo Power Nissan GT-R was to later benefit from a 30 second penalty incurred by the car ahead after the race to move up into seventh.

Following the top-three were the Lamborghini Murcielago teams of All-Incl.com in 4th (No.37) and 6th (No.38) positions and the Swiss Racing in 5th (No.8) position.

In the post race technical checks the minimum weight of the front upper wishbones of the No.23 and No.21 Nissans were found not in compliance with the homologation form. After a hearing, the FIA Stewards accepted that the homologation form contains a formal mistake and decided to impose a fine of 5,000 Euros for each car and an obligation to correct the homologation form before the next event (Stewards Decisions 13 and 14).

Speaking afterwards, a delighted Lucas Luhr said: "Obviously I'm very happy. I was a bit nervous about us all getting through the first corner okay, but it worked out well today. I had a good start and I was side-by-side with Richard but I couldn't do him in the first corner so I backed off. He seemed to be struggling a little bit to warm up his fresh tires in the first one and a half laps, but then he pulled away. I just tried to build a gap to the guys behind me and stay close to Richard. Our boys did a great job at the pit stop which allowed Michael to come out of the pits just one and half seconds behind Peter. Obviously our sister car had a problem at the end, but that's the way racing is: sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you are unlucky. With the 1-2-3 yesterday, it has been a great weekend for Nissan."

Luhr's teammate in the No.23 JRM, Michael Krumm, added: "Today the conditions were very much hotter than yesterday, so it was difficult for everyone to protect the tires for the whole stint. I was sitting close to Peter and I thought it was going to be a really long battle to the end. I backed off a little and thought I would cool it and wait for the last 10 minutes when the tyres had dropped off more to have a better chance of taking the lead. Then, without warning going up the hill, he just slowed down suddenly and I almost ran into him. Of course I was relieved that I didn't have to battle with a teammate because we don't want to crash into each other, but it was a shame because they won yesterday and they deserved to win today as much as we did."

Jamie-Campbell Walter commented: "It was nice to get through the first corner all nice and clean after the last few races we've had. Unfortunately our tire pressures went way too high from a very early stage so the No.8 Aston Martin was able to really push me. I had to work very hard to drive as smoothly as possible and not to over-work the car because the pressures were going up and up: luckily I managed to hold the position until the pit stop, and David did a great job in the second half of the race. It's a fantastic result for Sumo Power after what happened in Zolder."

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