Posted: 13 Jul 2011 05:31 AM PDT
FIA GT and FIA GT1 have been racing at Paul Ricard for many years and it is the fitting venue for the final European races before the GT1 World Championship jets off to China and South America for the final three rounds of the 2011 season. Last year Paul Ricard saw a double win for Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini on their way to becoming the inaugural FIA GT1 World Champions but with the Maserati MC12 not on the grid this season the way is open for a crew from another manufacturer to step onto the top step of the podium. The Nissans and Lamborghini’s took top 3 finishes last season, while the Corvette, Aston Martin and the Ford were always in the running for a podium finish.
At the last round at Navarra in Spain the All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Lamborghini’s were dominant, taking a 1-2 in qualifying and both races, while Dominik Schwager and Nicky Pastorelli secured the fastest laps. Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock took the honors in the Qualifying Race ahead of their teammates but in the Championship Race it was Schwager and Pastorelli who secured their first win of 2011 ahead of Basseng and Winkelhock. The Marc VDS Ford of Bertrand Baguette, who was standing in for Fred Makowiecki, and Maxime Martin took third in the Qualifying Race, while David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter fought their way to third in the Championship Race in the Sumo Power Nissan GT-R.
Aston Martin is represented by French team Hexis AMR and German team Young Driver AMR. Up until the last event the Hexis team were leading the Team Championship after wins for both the cars of Stef Dusseldorf / Clivio Piccione and Christian Hohenadel/Andrea Piccini, however after the dominant showing by the All-Inkl Team in Spain, Hexis are looking to close the 20-point gap to their rivals and retake the lead at their home race at Paul Ricard. The Young Driver AMR team continue to score valuable points with Tomas Enge / Alex Müller taking two 3rd places in Belgium and this was followed by two further top 3 finishes at Silverstone.
The Corvette teams consist of Exim Bank Team China and DKR Engineering. In the Exim Bank Team China Corvette Dutch drivers Mike Hezemans and Nicky Catsburg started the season well with a second place finish in the Qualifying Race and a fighting 5th in the Championship Race at Zolder. Catsburg was replaced by Andreas Zuber for races in Great Britain and resulted in pole position and two top 3 finishes at Silverstone, while Nico Verdonck joined Hezemans in Spain but retirements brought no points for the drivers or the team.
French driver Michael Rossi in the DKR Engineering Corvette has also had a couple of co-driver changes and was joined by Dimitri Enjalbert at Silverstone. Two strong performances in Spain saw the driver pairing collect their first Championship points of the year in Navarra.
Both Ford teams are based in Belgium, with the Marc VDS Racing Team starting the year well with Maxime Martin and Frederic Makowiecki winning the Qualifying Race in Abu Dhabi. Germany also proved to be a good track for Makowiecki and Martin when they added their second Qualifying Race win of the season to their tally. Bertrand Baguette replaced Makowiecki in Spain and he and Martin scored well with a 3rd place in the Qualifying Race followed up by 4th in the Championship Race. Makowiecki will return to the Ford for the rest of the season. The Belgian Racing team is new to GT1 World this year and their two cars run in the black, red and yellow national colours. Two top 10 finishes at Silverstone was their best result of the season so far as the brand new team continues to improve race by race.
The All-Inkl.com Munnich Motorsport Lamborghini started the year well, with three pole positions in the first five races and was the dominant force in Belgium when the nr38 car of Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock which took the checkered flag in both races. A dominant weekend at Navarra gave the drivers one win and a second place each and gave Basseng and Winkelhock a 15-point lead over Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr after six rounds.
Swiss Racing switched to the Italian manufacturer from the Nissans they ran last season. The Swiss Racing team boasts the services of the highly experienced Karl Wendlinger and Peter Kox had their best ever GT1 World Championship finish by finishing 4th in Belgium and then 5th in Portugal, but a first corner accident in the Championship Race in Germany eliminated both of the Swiss Racing Lamborghini’s, causing the team to miss the last two rounds in the UK and Spain. The team will be aiming to get back to claiming more points in France and will be aiming for their first podium finish.
2010 team Sumo Power GT are joined by JR Motorsports this season running the Nissan GT-R. JR Motorsports have been strong for most of the season with Germany’s Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr collecting a fighting third in the qualifying race in Yas Marina. They followed this up by stepping onto the top step of the podium in Portugal and Great Britain and while the Navarra weekend was far from the best for the team, Krumm and Luhr took some more points to keep them in the title hunt. British duo Richard Westbrook and Peter Dumbreck had a disappointing outing in Spain with a 7th and 9th in th etwo races and just 2 championship points. 2010 race winner Enrique Bernoldi has been joined by Nicky Catsburg, who moved from the nr11 Corvette to the nr20 Nissan last time out in Spain. Australia’s David Brabham and Britain’s Jamie Campbell-Walter finally tasted the champagne in Portugal with two third place finishes, while in Spain they finished 4th in the Qualifying Race and podium finish in the main event in Navarra.
- FIA GT1
Posted: 12 Jul 2011 07:30 AM PDT
Patrick Huisman, Team Bleekemolen, knows more than anyone what it takes to win at Silverstone. The four-time Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion, who claimed ninth position this weekend, has triumphed a record four times in the competition on the British track. Shortly before this weekend’s race, the Tudor-sponsored driver reflected on his affection for the course and how the season is shaping up thus far.
Q. How important is a win in Silverstone?
A. I have won on most tracks in my career with Porsche. The British Grand Prix is very special: I would put it on the same level as Monaco and Spa.
Q. What does it feel like to win here?
A. It is a great feeling. The ambience and the fans are so different in the UK. The British fans are the most educated and polite, as they are very knowledgeable and really follow motorsport.
Q. How do you prepare for a race like Silverstone?
A. In fact you prepare the same way for all races. ‘Lifestyle’ is the key word. If you gain some weight, then you need to go on a slimming diet. This is what I did ahead of Bahrain and Barcelona and I lost one and a half kilos. Since then, I put up a bit back on, but I am feeling fit.
Q. How do you rate your season until now?
A. I was struggling in the first race in Istanbul. The car improved in Barcelona and then for the third race of the season in Monaco, the car was even better than me. But the race performance and lap times showed good results overall. In Nuerburgring we had what I would call a really bad weekend in terms of performance.
Q. What do you want to avoid on the track?
A. I want to avoid contact of course! This is the most important thing as the cars are all very similar. You have to be better positioned. It is always difficult to overtake as we have almost no downforce, unlike in F1. Qualifying is the key event of the weekend.
Q. What is the most disappointing thing in a race?
A. An accident that stems from your own mistake. This would make me very angry with myself. Equally frustrating is a mechanical failure.
Q. Who are this season’s challengers and how tough is this 2011 campaign?
A. The leaders of the championship are very hard and tough. Tandy, Rast, even Siedler are very difficult contenders to beat and to catch as they are aggressive. You have to fight with them and they are difficult to pass. But the fights are interesting if you are in an attacking position. There are some young guns coming through such as Kevin Estre (Hermes Attempto Racing) from France and Kuba Giermaziak (VERVA Racing Team) from Poland. My situation is difficult: I am fighting with the weight handicap.
Q. How much is a win the result of a combination between a driver and a team?
A. 50/50 as it is now.In the past it was a bit different and I would have said, that winning was 70% down to the driver. At the time, the cars could be more unpredictable and difficult. Nowadays, as a driver it is difficult to make the difference – you need a perfect car as all the cars are very good to start with.
Q. How important is Tudor for you?
A. Tudor fits my image and is a great partner. In return, I also fit their image.Sometimes the product that you have to wear is just a product. But with Tudor values emerge: Tudor is a quality product. I know the quality of the brand and I really like it. It is a matter of taste. It fits my style, Tudor is like a heritage.
Round six of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup will take place at Nurburgring from 22-24 July.
- Tudor Motorsport
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