As soon as last weekend's round of the FIA
GT1 World Championship in Ordos was over, the Sumo Power GT team packed its bags - and containers - and headed 700km east across China to Beijing for round nine of the series.
The team now starts preparing for round nine of the global sportscar series, which takes place at the compact and technically demanding Goldenport circuit on the outskirts of the nation's capital city.
With the team not knowing what to expect ahead of last weekend's visit to Inner Mongolia, it was welcome news when the timing screens showed that the two Sumo Power GT GT-Rs were right on the pace. Their performance was confirmed when David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter's #21 machine finished third in Saturday's Qualifying Race and, even taking into account that they were delayed during the pit-stop when a wheel-nut would not go on properly, they finished a credible seventh in Sunday's Championship encounter.
Although the team had not expected the Ordos circuit to suit the GT-R so well, a great deal of work beforehand to ensure the car's set-up was as good as it possibly could be became an invaluable asset to its pace on the track - which contained a mixture of slow to medium speed corners and reasonable length straights. But, with the Goldenport circuit featuring even tighter bends, shorter straights and bumpy, narrow sections, that work starts again.
“I was pleased with the pace of our GT-Rs in Ordos," Sumo team principal Andy Barnes admitted, "Saturday's results were just what we wanted, but Sunday's didn't reflect the pace we had in the cars.
"The Beijing circuit is very different to Ordos. In fact, anything else we've raced on before. So it's going to call for a different strategy - and that's something that we see as an advantage.”
The 2.4km Beijing-based track is the shortest of all of the ten venues visited by the FIA
GT1 World Championship this season and has recently been upgraded in order to accommodate the GT1 cars for the very first time. Therefore, none of the drivers or teams has any prior knowledge of the venue, which is situated 26km from Tiananmen Square in the capital's city centre.
“Goldenport will be another new circuit for me but, this time, I think it applies to everyone on the grid, so that should make it interesting," Brabham commented, "After the way the GT-R was performing in Ordos, we know we have the pace to finish on the podium and it would be great to do it again - in both races this time.”
Due to a major publicity and demonstration event scheduled to take place outside the Beijing National Stadium - better known as the Birds Nest - on Sunday, the programme for the Goldenport event has been condensed to run within two days - rather than the usual three - as was the case in Ordos.
A compact itinerary sees the field of 18 GT1 cars take to the track for the first time for practice at 0930hrs on Friday , with pre-qualifying and qualifying following later in the day. Both of the one-hour races then take place on Saturday, with the Qualifying Race getting the green light at 1045hrs, followed by the Championship Race five hours later.