FIA GT1 World Championship – Perfect Weekend in Beijing for Young Driver Aston Martin‏

September 11, 2011

GT1

The Young Driver Aston Martin team completed a stunning double in a dramatic ninth round of the championship in Beijing. The combination of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke in the Nr8 car took the chequered flag in the Championship Race to record their first victory of the 2011 season. The result crowned a perfect two days for the German squad after Tomas Enge and Alex Muller in the Nr7 car had taken the honours in the Qualifying Race earlier in the day.

It meant that Young Driver took the maximum 43 points in Beijing to climb to the top of the teams’ standings. Turner and Mücke also move to second in the drivers’ table.

Third place for Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm in the Nr23 JRM Nissan GT-R consolidated their lead of the drivers’ championship.

The race started and ended under the safety after a heavy downpour before the start made for treacherous conditions at the Goldenport circuit. The rate of attrition was high with only nine of the 18 starters running at the chequered flag.

It was looking like an Aston Martin 1-2-3 for the second consecutive race. The Nr4 Hexis car of Andrea Piccini (Christian Hohenadel) was leading the race with six minutes left but like so many before him, Piccini pirouetted the car into the gravel at T7.

Enge in the Nr7 had started the Championship Race from pole but there was a three-way shuffle at the pit stop. Turner in the Nr8 got out ahead of Enge’s co-driver Muller while Piccini in the Hexis Nr4 leapfrogged them both to grab the lead before his mishap.

The Nr41 Marc VDS Ford GT (Maxime Martin and Bertrand Baguette), the Qualifying Race pole-sitter, staged a great fight back through the field from 14th place to finish fifth (10 points).

Marc Basseng (Markus Winkelhock) in the Nr38 car spun into the gravel at T1 soon after the start while Dominik Schwäger parked the sister Nr37 All-Inkl car at T13 under the same safety car just 15 minutes into the race.

The driver title ambitions of Basseng and Winkelhock took a big blow. Luhr and Krumm now head the standings on 131 points from Turner and Mucke on 120. The All-Inkl pair slipped to third on 101. Eleven drivers have a mathematical chance of taking the crown at the season-ending round 10 in San Luis.

In the teams’ championship, the German Lamborghini squad dropped to fourth (182) behind Young Driver (224), JRM Racing (216) and Hexis (195).

Nico Verdonck (Exim Bank Team China Corvette Nr12) and Enrique Bernoldi (Sumo Power Nr20 Nissan GT-R) provided great entertainment in a heated squabble over fifth place in the closing stages.

The honours eventually went to Verdonck even though Bernoldi crossed ahead of him af the flag. The stewards ruled Bernoldi’s overtaking move under the safety car was illegal and relegated him to sixth.  Bernoldi’s demotion handed the Team China car fifth place – welcome cheer for home fans.

Ho-Pin Tung and Jeroen Den Boer in the Nr11 Team China Corvette were running 11th, just out of the points, before Den Boer became yet another casualty with eight minutes left.

Tomorrow the spotlight shifts to Beijing’s iconic Olympic Park where the Beijing GT1 World Supercars event takes place.

The GT1 race cars will take part in a demonstration street race on a street circuit layout that runs between the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube. It promises to be a spectacular climax to GT1 World’s successful tour of China.

The final round of the 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship will take place in San Luis in Argentina on the 4-6 November, where the destination of the 2011 World Title will be decided.

WHAT THE DRIVERS SAY…….

Stefan Mücke

nr8 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9

“My race behind the Safety Car was very boring but the decision was correct, there was a lot of standing water on the track.  Running behind the Safety Car was quite difficult and on the first fast lap a few cars went off.  But in the end it was quite a boring race; in total I did 4 or 5 race laps, which wasn’t very much. Darren did a great job and the team did a perfect pitstop.  We now have a lot of weight in the car for Argentina but it will be good to go there and fight for the Word title.”

Darren Turner

nr8 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9

“The team did a great job with the pitstop.  We kept our position, we came in second and went out in second; we leapfrogged our teammates but we were behind the Hexis car. It was very difficult conditions out there for everyone, which everyone could see by the amount of cars going off.  I just had to stay on the circuit and get to the flag.

“I’m looking forward to running at the Olympic Park tomorrow, another day out in China.  Hopefully we wont had too many sore heads from celebrating tonight and we’ll put on a good show tomorrow.”

“We all really enjoyed our visits to Ordos and Beijing, I think everyone has enjoyed seeing the Great Wall and the Forbidden City and the other sights around the city.  On the track the drivers are rivals but off of it we enjoy each others company and we have had a great time.”

Tomas Enge

Nr7 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9

“What a great day.  The whole weekend has been great for Aston and the Young Driver team.  We had both cars doing well, challenging for pole and taking the top two places in both races today.  So we are really happy, it’s just unfortunate we slipped from P1 again like we did in Silverstone but it’s great for the team.”

Alex Muller

Nr7 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9

“This is a good team result with a 1-2 in both races but as Tomas said it is a bit disappointing.  We’ve now won two Qualifying Races and we’ve not yet made it in the Championship Race.  Thanks to the team, they did a good pitstop; we probably pitted too early, but otherwise it was pretty good.”

Lucas Luhr

Nr23 JR Motorsports Nissan GT-R

“Considering where we started the Qualifying Race it has gone pretty well.  This was the first time this year we didn’t get into Q3 because I decided to stick the car in the gravel in Q1.  We can be really happy as we finished 4th this morning and we finished 3rd this afternoon, so thanks to Nissan and to the team.  We had decent pitstops today and we had good race pace.  Even in Ordos we had good race pace but we were struggling on the pitstops there and that was definitely better here.  The weather also helped a little bit, it was hard to keep the car on the track at times but we were OK and Michael did a fantastic job.  With a little bit of luck he could’ve been second, but this is good for us.”

Michael Krumm

Nr23 JR Motorsports Nissan GT-R

“As Lucas said we are really happy with this result after the qualifying performance.  We did come here with the intention to win the race but I have to say the Aston Martins have done a better job and they deserved the victory.  I pushed as hard as I could but the conditions were dangerous.  I pushed a little bit more at times and I closed the gap but then I went to a risk level where I thought this isn’t a good idea and I’m going to crash into the pitwall, so I backed off.  You could see the other guys were having similar issues, so it was a very tough race.  I’m really glad we got past the nr41 Ford and the Nissan GT-R went really well and we come away from here still leading the championship.”

Maxime Martin

nr41 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT Matech (4th)

“I think it should have been a lot better but P4 is quite OK and is good for the team. I did a good stint before the pitstop, it was a good car in the rain. After the pitstop we were first but this was Bertrand’s first time in the car in the wet, and after the mistake in the Qualifying Race he was a bit more careful. So it’s OK we finished fourth, it’s good we have scored points but we cannot win the championship – it is finished for us. We can maybe get a top-three finish in the championship so we’ll have to see what happens in San Luis.”

Michael Rossi

Nr12 Exim Bank Team China Corvette Z06 (5th)

“This is my best result of the season to finish P5 and it is the best we could have expected. This result showed that in this championship a lot depends on your teammate, and with this car the top five is possible right now. It was a bit disappointing yesterday for my lap during Qualifying, I was maybe battling for P1 or P2, so that changed things for the Qualifying Race. But P8 to P5 in the Championship Race is really good, and I hope to be on the podium for the final races of the season.”

Stef Dusseldorp

nr3 Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9 (DNF)

“Our speed was OK during the weekend, then I made a big mistake in Qualifying which was not ideal for the first race but we did a fantastic job in the Qualifying Race. But at the start of the Championship Race I got hit by Nr9, I think, it was quite a hard blow but the race was already over. I made a mistake not to put the car in reverse – I tried to spin it around but got stuck, and then the race was really over.

Christoffer Nygaard

nr9 Belgian Racing Ford GT Matech (DNF)

“This was very disappointing. Qualifying Race was nice, the car seemed to have the pace and we were confident for the Championship Race. But then I got hit, it is not a nice way to finish this weekend.

“There are positives to take with us, but this is a massive disappointment for me and the whole team; whenever we are doing a good job, when it comes down to the racing everything seems to rain down on us.

“Let’s hope it will be sunshine in San Luis! The Ford GT Matech showed last year that they had good performance, but looking forward to the event it is not looking easy for us – however, it cannot be worse than this. The team will keep on pushing, they have done a really nice job this weekend and I would like to end the season nicely for them.”

Ho-Pin Tung

nr11 Exim Bank Team China Corvette Z06 Nr11 (DNF)

“We had a really difficult weekend altogether and it seemed like all the bad luck turned my way. I didn’t get to drive many laps here, after a few laps in Free Practice the engine broke down while I was in the car, and I didn’t get to run any laps in Warm-up so it’s just been a really tough weekend and nothing came my way.

“This afternoon I had just one lap at race speed with all others behind the safety car, and it’s definitely not the result we were hoping for. But we’re happy that our sister car did well, it is great for them to score good points.

“I don’t know if I’ll be in Argentina, I have enjoyed it despite the bad luck we have had so who knows?”

Dominik Schwäger

nr37 All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV (DNF)

“It was a complete disaster from start to finish. Friday morning, as long as I was on the track, we were P1 so I don’t know what could have been – but we are always talking about the same thing, what could have been. I think we could easily have been top five so what can I say?

“I’m getting used to [this kind of result] but it’s hard to keep the motivation. We have one more race to go and I want to finish on a high, but it is a real shame we couldn’t do anything for the team championship here.”

Markus Winkelhock

nr38 All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV (DNF)

“I think the whole China trip was not good for us, we lost many points in Ordos and also here. Marc was in P2 in the Qualifying Race and then we got a penalty because one of the mechanics left the wheel gun out, so then we had to start from P11 or P12 and I think it was one of the Nissans pushed him out in the first corner.

“We lost many, many points and we are lucky we are still P3 in the championship, but if we lose two or three points we’ll be fifth or sixth in the championship. It’s really close for the last race but for us, the whole China trip was not good.”

Marc Hennerici

nr40 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT Matech (DNF)

“Today was disappointing, we had good speed, Qualifying was not too bad – the crash was something that happens in motorsport and the guys had to work a long time, but they prepared the car really well. We were P5 in the Qualifying Race and then the clutch broke so our bad luck continues. Still, that was only the Qualifying Race, for the Championship Race we were P7 on the grid, I changed over to Bas and he got hit, something broke and we retired. Our speed here was not too bad. We are going to have a really hard time in Argentina. Today the car was great for us, and also in Ordos, but San Luis is not looking so good.”

Jonathan Kennard

nr48 DKR www-discount.de Lamborghini Murcielago 670-R-SV (DNF)

“The weekend promised a lot – we were P1 on old tyres in Free Practice, the car was handling really well and the circuit suited the car; we couldn’t complain at all. But from there onwards it went downhill rapidly.

“We had a gearbox problem, then we had a catastrophic engine problem in Qualifying so we didn’t get through to Q3 and on our pace, we should easily have been top eight at least – and that’s being conservative. As soon as you have problems like that and you’re at back of grid, it’s a disaster. So we went out for the morning Warm-up, the engine wasn’t fixed so we needed an engine change and we missed the Qualifying Race. That put us on the back row of the grid for the Championship Race.

“Christopher [Brück] was doing a good job, we made a fantastic pitstop and went back out, and a Nissan took me out two corners into my stint – so that sums it up really.

“I don’t think San Luis is a Lamborghini circuit but we’ll have to wait and see. Chris and I haven’t had many hours in the car at all and I think we’ve done really well considering the situation we’re in. The mechanics and engineers have done a great job and other than results, we can be quite proud of our performance so far.”

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