FIA GT » 8 November 2011
Dramatic end to season for Sumo, Brabham
The dramatic setting of the Potrero de los Funes circuit in central Argentina provided an appropriate backdrop to the final round to the 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship for David Brabham and the Sumo Power GT team.
There was a disappointing end to the FIA GT1 World Championship for David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter as their Sumo Power GT entry suffered a dramatic DNF in the final round in Argentina.
While team-mates Enrique Bernoldi and Nick Catsburg took the #20 sister car to a pair of hard-fought fourth-place finishes, Brabham and Campbell-Walter's #21 entry managed seventh in race one before becoming caught up in a massive start-line shunt that played out ahead of the Australian in the finale.
Following a season of mixed fortunes, the Sumo Power team went to Argentina with the hope of scoring good results at a circuit that was likely to extol the virtues of the Nissan GT-R. Built around a lake that lies in the centre of an extinct volcano, the track is totally unique, with fast and wide sections, coupled with the undulating topography and walls that surround the whole of the 6.22km circuit, making it as demanding as it is picturesque.
Because it is a public road for most of the year, the surface of the track is not as clean as a purpose-built race circuit but, even so, the two Sumo Power entries performed well during Friday's free practice and pre-qualifying sessions and continued that theme into Saturday morning's qualifying.
Both cars made it through to Q3 and the shoot-out for the top-eight positions, with the #21 car starting the first race from third on the grid, and all four drivers saying their machines had never felt better.
With a dusty left-hand side of the track to contend with, Campbell-Walter could not get traction from the rolling start and dropped to fifth, allowing Catsburg's #20 car to slip past into fourth. The two GT-Rs continued to run line astern for several laps, building up for an attack on the Lamborghini.
When the car ahead of him braked earlier than expected, Catsburg locked up on the approach to the second chicane. This let Campbell-Walter past and, as the race progressed, it was clear that the Scot was faster than the Lamborghini and pushing for position as the compulsory pit-stops approached.
The #21 car was first to pit but, whilst trying to gain a place by putting in a typically ultra-fast stop, a nut became jammed as the crew tried to replace the right-rear wheel. Consequently, the time spent in the pits was twice what it should have been and Brabham emerged from the pits in ninth place.
The Australian was loving the track and the way his GT-R was performing and went on to set times that equalled – or in some cases bettered – that of the race leaders. The veteran's pace was such that he was able to climb two positions during his stint, which meant he crossed the line in seventh.
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