An impressive drive by David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter in round seven of the FIA
GT1 World Championship at Paul Ricard saw the Sumo Power GT pair take a well-deserved fourth place and set the fastest lap in Sunday's Championship Race.
In what is becoming a regular feature of the 2011 season, both Sumo cars were caught up in first-lap incidents in the Qualifying Race, with Brabham having to take evasive action at turn three to avoid an almost certain accident. That dropped the Australian three places to sixth at the end of the first lap.
Both team cars moved up a place before the start of lap four, at which point the safety car was deployed when an Aston Martin hit the barriers at the exit of turn seven. After three laps of convoying slowly around the 5.809km circuit, the racing recommenced with the two Sumo Power GT-Rs proceeding to chase down the cars ahead of them.
Brabham pitted a lap later than under-the-weather team-mate Enrique Bernoldi to carry out his mandatory driver swap with Campbell-Walter. The Scot set off determined to make up places and, on lap 17, executed one of his hallmark overtaking moves to take fifth. However, because of the hot conditions and the track's abrasive surface, the performance of his tyres began to fade and, before too long he was caught by the following cars.
With just a few laps to go Campbell-Walter defended as best he could but, in doing so, crossed one of the blue-striped run-off areas. Although he didn't gain any ground – in fact, he even lifted off the throttle to make sure there was no chance of an advantage - race officials still ordered a drive-through penalty.
With the penalty applied so late in the race, Campbell-Walter took his punishment on the last lap and therefore passed the chequered flag in the pits. Although an innovative tactic, the stewards deemed it unacceptable and applied a 30-second penalty for the Qualifying Race and a three-place grid penalty for the following Championship Race for crossing a run-off area.
With other cars receiving similar penalties for exceeding the track limits, Campbell-Walter started race two from P11 but, with all competitors now edgy about cutting corners and, at the same time, trying not to succumb to the usual first-corner mayhem, the pack bunched up on the opening lap, resulting in the #21 being pushed back to twelfth.
Feeling that he had a car beneath him that was capable of far greater things, however, the Briton embarked on an overtaking spree and, by the time the pit window opened after 25 minutes of racing, was up to eighth place, having set the fastest lap in the process.
A stunning pit-stop by the Sumo Power GT crew, the quickest of all in the race - further boosted car #21's position and Brabham exited the pits in sixth.