The stunning setting and spectacular circuit of San Luis, Argentina, will bring the first season of the FIA GT1 World Championship to a fitting finale this weekend. Twenty three GT1 cars will take to the track set inside a vast volcanic caldera.
Coming into the seasons final two races, the Vitaphone Racing Maserati Team will be looking to secure the first ever GT1 World Championship title for both drivers and team. Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini are currently 28 points clear of the Young Driver Aston Martin team pairing of Darren Turner and Tomas Enge. With a maximum of 33 points available for a winning both races, Turner is realistic about their chances of overhauling the Maserati.
“Unless the Maserati container gets lost en route to South America I don’t think anyone can touch them for the lead. It has been nice to win a few races this season. The biggest disappointment was Silverstone (where the Aston Martin was disqualified for a technical infringement) as it really affected the championship. It’s a shame as it could have gone down to the wire. I think sometimes regulations are enforced without thinking of the good of the sport.”
San Luis will be a new challenge for Turner, who like many drivers has been busily learning the circuit on a simulator. “Thankfully I have been able to use the Base Performance Simulator to learn this track as I haven’t been there before. From what I can see it is more like a street circuit: not much run off and lots of concrete walls! It’s an interesting track with a good mix of fast sections and tight and twisty sections. I think the Aston will go well there, as long as we stay away from the walls.”
Peter Dumbreck of the British based Sumo Power Nissan GT-R team is another who has been busy staring at a screen since Interlagos last weekend. “I have driven San Luis on a racing simulator and it seems like a great circuit. It's like an old fashioned track and not like one of the modern F1-style safety layouts. There is no room for error, as the track is lined with walls, so focus and staying mistake-free will be very important. It is also a very long lap, so will take a lot more learning than the shorter tracks we have visited this year.”
“Although there are some very fast stretches, I think a high amount of down-force would be good to stop the car becoming nervous in the heavy braking areas and through the medium and high-speed corners. In several races this year it has been very clear that, if you can stay out of trouble on the opening couple of laps and avoid contact with other cars, you can finish in a good position within the championship points. And that has to be our goal. It has been a good first year for Sumo Power GT. We have had two wins and a string of podiums. We have all made mistakes and been unlucky at times, but we keep learning and becoming stronger.”
All of the action is streamed live at www.independent.co.uk/gt1
Qualifying Saturday, December 4, 8:15pm
Qualiying Race Sunday, December 5, 12:15pm
Championship Race Sunday, December 5, 4:25pm