Dramatic victory for JRM Racing at Silverstone!
FIA GT1 World Championship – Round Five Report
4th & 5th June 2011
JRM Racing’s dream of winning its home round of the FIA GT1 World Championship came true this weekend, when Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr recorded their second FIA GT1 Championship Race victory of the season at Silverstone. The result not only put the German pairing at the top of the drivers’ points table, but also rewarded them and the team with the legendary Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy.
In stark contrast, team mates Richard Westbrook and Peter Dumbreck had a memorable weekend for all the wrong reasons: After a non-finish because of a first lap incident in race one which forced Dumbreck to stop, Westbrook was deliberately hit off the track in the Championship Race by the Aston Martin of Stefan Mucke, who crashed into the JRM Nissan GT-R in an act of retalliation that was later described by the FIA as ‘dangerous’.
The Silverstone race represented the fifth of ten rounds in this year’s FIA GT1 World Championship and is the only time that the series visits the UK. Therefore, East Sussex-based JRM Racing were eager to score another race win in their home event, especially as the Championship Race included the annual battle for the Tourist Trophy, the oldest perpetual award in motorsport. The weekend also represented a landmark in the history of the British circuit, as it was the first time that the recently opened ‘Wing’ complex and the revised position of the starting grid had ever been used.
Following Saturday morning’s Qualifying session, Luhr, who was first to drive in car 23, lined up for the start of the first of the weekend’s two one-hour races in P2, with Dumbreck in car 22 starting from P5. A storming getaway when the lights went green saw Luhr turn into the right-hander at Abbey in the lead, blasting past the Corvette that had started on Pole.
Two rows back, Dumbreck was doing his best to keep out of trouble as the grid headed through the first three corners. But then, at turn four as the pack closed up, he found himself a victim of other peoples’ accidents, as the spinning Aston Martin of Darren Turner clouted the side of the Nissan. With a puncture and damage to the car, Dumbreck elected to stop in the old pit lane, which now stands half-way round a lap of the 3.66-mile circuit.
Although the Aston Martin of Alex Müller in second tried to close up on Luhr, the Nissan driver commanded the lead to the end of his stint and the mid-race pit stop for the compulsory change of tyres and driver. However, even with a rapid swap of all-four wheels by the JRM Racing crew, Krumm – now behind the wheel of car 23 - emerged onto the track just as Tomas Enge - who was now in the Aston Martin - went past the pit lane exit.
Krumm drove as hard as he could to hunt-down Enge but, with the Aston Martin fitted with fresher tyres, the German driver was unable to get close enough to make an impression before the chequered flag. However, the team was satisfied with the race pace of its Nissan and the prospect of another front-row start.
Krumm started the Championship Race in car 23, whilst Westbrook – lining-up at the opposite end of the grid - was driver-one in car 22. The tension before the off was increased even further, when spots of rain started to fall minutes before the formation lap.
With drivers now wary of the level of grip, this time the whole field managed to make it through the first sequence of corners without incident, Enge and Krumm continuing from where they left-off in race one in first and second places. Meanwhile, Westbrook was already making up positions and, at the end of the first lap was up to 12th.
He continued to move through the field, catching up with the Aston Martin of Stefan Mücke on lap 11 and, on the approach to the right-hander at Becketts, saw an opportunity to get past on the inside. However, Mücke turned-in and, although Westbrook saw what was about to happen and hit the brakes, contact was made, the outcome resulting in Mücke spinning and Westbrook collecting a puncture.
Westbrook was first to recover and started his slow run back to the pits to change a wheel. But as he drove down the following straight, in what can only be described as an attack of retaliation, Mücke – who’s car appeared to be undamaged - aimed his Aston Martin at Westbrook’s Nissan and smashed into the side of it as he went past.
The force of impact spun the Aston Martin off the circuit, causing it to crash heavily into the wall, whilst Westbrook was catapulted across the track, fortunately not going fast enough to hit the wall on the opposite side. Thankfully, both drivers were unharmed and none of the marshals or nearby spectators were struck by any of the flying bodywork or wheels.
It was a terrifying incident and one which caused the FIA Stewards to issue a bulletin after the race which stated that Stefan Mücke drove in a very dangerous manner causing an unnecessary accident and, in consequence of his behaviour, he would be reported to his country’s (Germany) ASN with the recommendation to withdraw his racing licence immediately with action taken accordingly.
Because of the resulting debris strewn across the track, inevitably the Safety car was deployed – just as the pit window opened. All teams seized the opportunity to make their mandatory mid-race stop and Krumm came in, bringing his car to a halt perfectly in the tyre-change box. His crew swapped all four wheels in incredible 20.7 seconds, enabling Luhr to hit the starter and exit the pits ahead of Müller, who had swapped with Enge.
When the Safety Car went in, there then followed an epic battle between the two Germans, with Müller even getting past momentarily on the first fast-lap. However, Luhr drove a perfect second half and managed to hold off even more advances in the closing stages in one of the closest last-lap battles the Championship has ever seen: the two drivers proving that it is possible to have a clean and fair fight between a JRM Racing Nissan and a Young Driver AMR Aston Martin without crashing.
Krumm and Luhr recorded the team’s second Championship Race victory of the season and, in doing so, became the recipients of the legendary Tourist Trophy, establishing themselves as leaders of the Drivers’ Championship at the season’s halfway point. The result also puts JRM Racing second in the teams’ standings.
The team now prepares for round six of FIA GT1 World Championship, which takes place at Navarra in Spain on 1st & 2nd July.
Michael Krumm (Car 23)
“This is one of the most important victories of my career. It’s amazing to have won for the team at their home event and for Lucas and I to add our names to the Tourist Trophy. It’s a very proud moment. Our guys did such a fantastic job with the tyre change which allowed Lucas to get out in front. He also did a fantastic job defending the position. It was a great all-round effort and I am delighted for the whole team.”
Lucas Luhr (Car 23)
“I can’t remember screaming so loud and for so long after I had crossed the line! Our pit stop was perfect and I must really thank the guys for that. I also have to thank JRM and Nissan for giving me such a good car, which allowed me to have such a great race with Alex (Müller). It proves that you can drive a close race without any crashes – even though we did have a few ‘love’ taps! I have to admit that before this weekend I wasn’t sure what the Tourist Trophy really was, but now I understand and, having seen the other great names on it, I am delighted that mine will now be added to the list.”
Richard Westbrook (car 22)
“I am completely shocked by what happened in the Championship Race. Being driven into like that when you’re driving down a straight is terrifying and something you never ever expect. I can’t understand it. Thank god no one was hurt, including the marshals and spectators. It was disgraceful behaviour and this standard of driving cannot continue. I therefore support the decision of the Stewards. It overshadowed what was a great weekend for the team and I must congratulate Michael, Lucas and all at JRM Racing for achieving such a fantastic result.”
Peter Dumbreck (Car 22)
“It was a disappointing weekend all-round for car 22. I was the victim of someone else’s first lap incident in race one. With the progress Richard was making in race two, it was obvious that our car had the pace, but then what happened was unbelievable. Mücke’s driving was nothing short of dangerous It’s such a shame, because with car 23 winning, the team and our team mates have had such a great weekend.”
Nigel Stepney (Team Manager and Chief Engineer)
“It was a perfect weekend for car 23 and well-deserved result for the whole team. We had a plan and stuck to it. Our pit-crew did well with excellent stops in both races - and in the main race it allowed us to get into the lead. Michael drove a great first stint and Lucas did an impressive job of defending in the second half. It’s just incredible what happened to car 22 though. The young Driver AMR team must be very unhappy, especially as they had to rebuild the car following the first lap incident in race one. I am very pleased to see that the Stewards are taking what happened extremely seriously and have recommended a race ban for Stefan Mücke, as they have to clamp down on highly dangerous driving like this.”
James Rumsey (Team Principal)
“It’s fantastic to score a home win – especially as it’s the Tourist Trophy meeting and I’m very proud to have won it for the second year running as Team Principal. It is a testament to all the team’s efforts and to the fantastic drive by Michael and Lucas. However, I’m afraid that our weekend has been tainted by what happened to Richard. From what I saw Mücke aimed his car at the Nissan in a pre-meditated act of retaliation from the previous corner. In my opinion, Mücke has disgraced his team, Aston Martin, himself and the sport. I hope we never see this kind of driving again. I am relieved to see the recommendation of the Stewards to withdraw his racing licence immediately."