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2011 FIA GT1 World Championship - Round 7 - Paul Ricard

Race Report

Championship Race

Nissan completed the double in the seventh round of the championship at Paul Ricard with the JRM Motorsports No.23 GT-R of Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr taking the win in the Championship Race to add to the Qualifying Race victory. The German pair were able to control the race from pole, complete a rapid pit stop and take their fourth chequered flag of the season.

In overcast conditions suited to the Aston Martins, the Young Driver cars finished second and third. The No.8 of Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke led home the sister car of Tomas Enge and Alex Müller - a reversal of the placings from the Qualifying Race for the Astons.

The No.21 Sumo Power GT of David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter clinched an excellent fourth place after making up seven grid positions during the course of the race, whilst there were also good drives from Enrique Bernoldi and Nick Catsburg in the No.20 car. The only sour note of the afternoon for Nissan came with the retirement of the luckless No.22 JRM, which encountered suspension problems late on in the race when challenging for third place.

A large number of penalties applied by the race stewards in relation to the Qualifying Race meant a starting grid that bore little resemblance to Saturday's final race positions, with the first placed No.23 JRM the only Nissan to start where it finished. The No.22 and No.21 were both penalised three positions for cutting track corners, although due to similar penalties being incurred by several other cars around them they actually ended up only dropping two places (No.22) and one place (No.21) respectively. This meant that the four Nissan GT-R's started the race in first (No.23 JRM), sixth (No.22 JRM), seventh (No.20 Sumo Power GT) and 11th (No.21 Sumo Power GT) positions.

A clean race start saw Krumm comfortably retain his first position going into the all-important and often incident-packed first corner in the No.23 JR Motorsports Nissan GT-R, with the No.22 and No.20 Nissan GT-R's doing likewise in sixth and seventh. The No.21 Sumo Power GT was the only GT-R to lose a position on the opening lap, falling back one to 12th place, but this would only prove to be a catalyst for some highly-skilled and pulsating driving from Campbell-Walter, who made four excellent passing manoeuvres to leave his car in a comfortable eighth place come the opening of the pit window 25 minutes into the race.

At the front, having worn the fresh tires in, the No.23 JRM started to pull away from the chasing No.7 Aston Martin, establishing a four second lead ahead of the mandatory tire and driver changes, whilst Westbrook's stint behind the wheel saw the No.22 JRM Nissan GT-R make a good overtaking manoeuvre to come into the pits in fifth.

The main Nissan pit stop beneficiary this time was the No.21 Sumo Power GT, with some brilliant work by the car's pit crew allowing the fresh behind the wheel Brabham to come out two places up the order in sixth. There were satisfactory stops for the two JRM's, with the No.23 and No.22 JRM retaining first and fifth respectively, whilst the No.20 Sumo Power GT found itself losing a couple of places to come back out in ninth.

The opening stages of the second half of the race saw the No.23's lead to second place slashed to nearly nothing as the No.8 Young Driver Aston Martin, having overtaken its No.7 team-mate in the pits, managed to close right up to Luhr's tail: there followed several tense laps before the Nissan GT-R managed to pull away and build a near two second gap again. Slightly further back, Dumbreck was having a strong drive behind the wheel of the No.22 JRM, easily overtaking the No.41 Marc VDS Racing Ford GT for fourth place, whilst Bernoldi, having closed a substantial gap to the cars in front of him, made two great overtakes in the final quarter of the race, lifting the No.20 Sumo Power GT up into seventh.

Just when everything was looking rosy for Nissan, the No.22 JRM, which has endured a terrible run of bad luck throughout the length of this season's Championship, suffered a suspension problem whilst pushing hard for third place, ending its race challenge instantly with only five minutes remaining. Dumbreck's loss promoted Brabham's No.21 Nissan GT-R into fifth, and the Australian was to go one better and over take the Ford for fourth on the penultimate lap - an astonishing achievement given the No.21's start on the sixth row of the grid.

Up ahead meanwhile, Luhr was able to withstand a renewed push from the No.8 Aston Martin in second to claim the No.23 JRM's second GT1 race victory in as many days.

Behind Mücke and Turner in the No.8 Aston Martin and Dumbreck and Westbrook in the No.21 Sumo Power GT, the No.4 Hexis Aston Martin of Christian Hohenadel and Andrea Piccini took fifth while Maxime Martin and Fred Makowiecki flew the flag for Ford with sixth place in the No.41 Marc VDS Ford GT.

The All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport No.38 of Markus Winkelhock and Marc Basseng was running strongly in the top four, before being handicapped by a slow pit stop and finished eighth. It was a torrid race for the Corvettes. The Exim Bank Team China No.11 of Mike Hezemans and Andreas Zuber retired on the opening lap after running wide and bounced over the kerb on the exit of turn two and sustaining front tire and under body damage. It was the second retirement of the weekend for the pair. The No.47 DKR Chevrolet Corvette of Michael Rossi and Dimitri Enjalbert made a solid start from the seventh row on the grid but eventually finished 10th.

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