2011 FIA GT1 Round 3 - Algarve

BY Burnpavement

Nissan GT-Rs sweeps clean top three in Portimao.

Photos: SRO Media

Nissan secured the first manufacturer top three lockout in a FIA GT1 World Championship race when JR Motorsports took first and second, with Richard Westbrook and Peter Dumbreck taking the top spot in the No. 22 Nissan GT-R, with Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm joining them in the post race press conference by finishing just 0.3 seconds behind at the chequered flag. Completing the Nissan GT-R triumvirate was the Sumo Power Nissan GT-R pairing of David Brabham and Jamie Campbell-Walter.

Starting from pole, Dumbreck protected his lead through the opening corners and remained in the lead as he dived into the pit lane, although the sister No. 23 JRM Nissan of Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr remained within two seconds of the lead. A rapid pit stop allowed Luhr to jump the No. 22 Nissan GT-R and assume the lead, but Westbrook was not to be denied. After shadowing Luhr for several laps, he dived down the inside at turn one to recapture the lead, which he held until the chequered flag came out. Luhr remained glued to Westbrook's tail, with little more than one second separating the two cars, but he was not quite able to find a way through - with Westbrook leading home a Nissan podium clean sweep.

While Nissan took a stranglehold on the first three places, they also suffered misfortune at the start as the No. 20 Sumo Power GT-R of Ricardo Zonta and Enrique Bernoldi was tipped into a spin in the second corner. The duo were able to recover to finish eighth. That spin was the first of a series of incidents in turns two and three on the opening lap, which ultimately saw the No. 7 Young Driver Aston Martin ruled out with suspension damage, and several other cars falling down the order due to spins.

In the confusion, the No. 8 Young Driver Aston Martin DB9 of Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner was able to come through to sixth on the opening lap. Turner made up two further places before handing over to Mucke, who brought the car home in fourth. Fifth went to the No. 37 All-Inkl Lamborghini of Nicky Pastorelli and Dominik Schwager, which enjoyed a remarkable start to move from the rear of the field into seventh. The duo had been jumped during the pit window by the No. 41 Marc VDS Ford GT of Yann Clairay and Maxime Martin, but found a way back past the Ford with little more than ten minutes of the race remaining.

Championship leaders Markus Winkelhock and Marc Basseng also made a good start in the sister No. 38 All Inkl Lamborghini to sit fifth after the first lap. Their 50 kg of success ballast - received due to an outstanding double win in Zolder - told however, with the duo falling back to seventh - fractions ahead of Zonta and Bernoldi in the No. 20 Sumo Power Nissan GT-R. Mike Hezemans and Nicky Catsburg were the lead Corvette as the No. 11 Exim Bank Team China car finished ninth, while Karl Wendlinger and Peter Kox rounded out the top ten in the No. 5 Swiss Racing Lamborghini.