It's the “toughest challenge yet” according to Nissan as the FIA GT1 World Championship takes to the famous Spa-Francorchamps track, the twisting Ardennes track the manufacturer describe as a “rollercoaster for racing cars”.
The Sumo Power GT squad reach Belgium full of confidence from another good points haul in the previous round at Paul Ricard in France after a pair of podiums – Jamie Campbell-Walter and Warren Hughes in the Qualifying Race and teammates Peter Dumbreck and Michael Krumm in the main Championship Race.
After the French round the team took part in the test day at Spa. “We worked methodically through various damper settings and ride heights, working on finding the right set-up for the Spa races,” said Allen Orchard the team manager.
“Since then we have been doing a lot of simulation work so the mechanics have had plenty of time to work on the cars while the engineers have been busy with simulation. You never know where you're at until you start running but I am hoping for another solid performance.”
The maiden GT1 season has not been so successful for the second team running the Nissan GT-R – Swiss Racing Team – who go to Spa with two success ballast free cars, but after a promising showing in the test day, looking to improve on their season so far.
“We know that the Nissan GT-R is capable of much more,” explained Othmar Welti of SRT. “We had a good Spa test, albeit with just one car as we had some repairs to do on the No.4 car after Ricard. All four drivers took part and we made many adjustments. I am an optimistic man and I expect to be on the pace at Spa. We have shown time and again that we have the race pace but we need to get it right throughout the whole weekend. When just a split second is the difference between success and failure you have to get it right.”
The Sumo pairings, on the other hand, will attack Spa saddled with success ballast, with Krumm expecting the penalty to have significant effect on the high speed track.
“I think those of us who got the good results at Ricard are going to have to race tactically this weekend,” he said. “Fifty kilos is a lot of ballast to carry around Spa, especially with the long drag up through Eau Rouge and on from there. We're going to aim for the top ten so we get some points but also lose some of the weight.”
“Having said that though if we get there and we're looking good there will be no stopping us going for the top results! Even with the weight the Nissan GT-R will still be strong through Spa's sweeping turns so let's go and see how it all pans out.”
The GT1 World Championship is supporting the 24 Hours of Spa over the race weekend, which means a different timetable for the series with qualifying timetrials and the Qualifying Race on Friday and the Championship Race on Saturday.
The sessions will be streamed line on www.gt1world.com.