Gulf-liveried Aston fastest at the end of Day One in Ordos
The first day at the Ordos International Circuit finished with the new look Gulf sponsored Young Driver Aston Martin DB9 of Tomas Enge and Alex Müller at the top of the pecking order.
The Aston Martin nr7, resplendent in the famous light blue and burnt orange Gulf Oil livery, finished just 0.015s ahead of the Marc VDS Ford GT nr41 of Maxime Martin and Fred Makowiecki with the JRM Racing Nissan GT-R nr22 of Peter Dumbreck and Richard Westbrook third fastest.
- Free Practice and Pre Qualifying reports and driver reaction below
Before the GT1 drivers sampled the track for the first time they took the scenic route with a trip around the Kangbashi region of Ordos. GT1 new boy Jonathan Kennard and the rest of the drivers enjoyed the Inner Mongolian history lesson.
- See story below
WHAT’S NEW IN ORDOS?
There was a new look to the grid in Ordos with the return of the Lamborghinis which previously ran in Swiss Racing colours but have been sidelined since the fourth round at Sachsenring after extensive damage to both cars in a coming together in the early stages of the Championship Race.
GT1 DRIVERS TAKE ORDOS CULTURAL TOUR
The GT1 drivers found time to take a guided tour of the Kangbashi region of Ordos which included a visit to the Genghis Khan Plaza.
At the plaza, one of the iconic landmarks of the area, they wandered around several sculptures depicting the emperor and his family. One of the giant works, shows Genghis Khan and his brothers flanking his mother who is holding a bunch of arrows.
The motherly message from the sculpture is - "It is very easy to break off an arrow. But when you have several arrows together, they won't be destroyed by any one. You should work together, fight together and live together to have the final success."
Those words would ring true for the GT1 drivers for which teamwork is everything.
At another site on the tourist trail, drivers mingled with giant statues of horses, an important symbol of the city. Local fable has it that Genghis Khan conquered the world with horses.
Sculptures of horses can be seen everywhere in the city, including the Wulanmulun Lake Fountain Square. The square is famous it’s amazing music water display.
Britain’s Jonathan Kennard, who is in the DKR www-discount.de Lamborghini this weekend, revelled in the history lesson: "We had a couple of Chinese guides telling us about the history of Mongolia and the region, which was very interesting.
“The statues in the square were very impressive. I didn't know much about Mongolia before coming here and now I know a bit more. I think all the drivers enjoyed it."
The tour was a pleasant diversion from the rigours of a hectic two weeks in China.
Pictures of the Drivers Tour of Ordos, and from Day One on track, are available in the GT1 Gallery
The nr21 Sumo Power Nissan GT-R of Jamie Campbell-Walter and David Brabham was the quickest car in Free Practice with a time of 1:38.486 around the 3.7km Ordos International Circuit. The nr41 Marc VDS Ford GT of Maxime Martin and Fred Makowiecki was 0.5 seconds adrift of the Sumo Nissan, with Martin setting the best time of 1:40.044, just five thousandths quicker than the nr37 All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini in 3rd.
China's Ho Pin Tung was 7th fastest in first run in the nr11 Exim Bank Team China Corvette, while their teammate's in the nr12 Exim Bank Team China Corvette was 12th fastest.
Championship leaders Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm in the nr23 JRM Nissan GT-R only completed 4 laps during the 80-minute session and finished in 17th overall.
The Gulf Oil-sponsored Young Driver Aston Martin DB9 of Alex Müller and Tomas Enge topped te time sheets in the second session of the first day in Ordos with Müller setting a 1:39.393 lap in the overcast conditions as rain threatened. Müller's time was just 0.015s ahead of the nr41 Marc VDS Ford GT of Maxime Martin and a further 0.101 ahead of the nr22 JRM Motorsports Nissan of Peter Dumbreck.
In fact the top 14 cars were covered by less than one second and the entire grid by 1.187s, with the exception of the nr47 Lamborghini which didn't set a time due to a technical issue.
Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr were languishing at the bottom of the time sheet for most of the 80-minute session before Krumm set a 1:39.778 in the last 10-minutes, good enough for 5th overall. Krumm and Winkelhock's main championship rivals Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock could only manage 9th fastest, but only 0.5 seconds behind the nr7 Aston.
The only car not to set a time was the nr48 DKR www-discount.de Lamborghini of Jonathan Kennard. After an encouraging performance in the earlier Free Practice session the British driver completed less than a lap before returning to the pitlane with a broken fly wheel, which sidelined Kennard and Christopher Brück for the rest of Pre Qualifying.
Qualifying for Round 8 of the 2011 FIA GT1 World Championship at Ordos will take place at 09:45 (local) - 03:45 CET
CLICK HERE for the Pre Qualifying Result
WHAT THE DRIVERS SAY……
nr7 Young Driver Aston Martin DB9
"The track isn't that difficult and the time was good, the secret with this track is to put all three sectors together. It is very easy to make a mistake with the low grip, so you are always fighting with the car. You are happy if you bring three green sectors together and I think that is the secret for the weekend. Having the Gulf colours on the car certainly gives some extra motivation."
nr23 JR Motorsports Nissan GT-R
“Considering we are carrying 60kilos of success ballast, I’m fairly happy with where we are today. We had to push quite hard to get the times and having new tyres appears to make such a big difference. I’m therefore a bit concerned what will happen if the tyres drop off early in the race.”
nr37 All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV
“It didn’t go so well for us today. With only 10kg (ballast) in the car I thought we would be higher but in fact Michael (Krumm) and Lucas (Luhr) are in front of us with 60kg so that’s not a good sign. But it’s really nice to be here. China is a very nice country there is no question about it. Ordos is really cool, the people are really friendly. I think if they get a bit more used to us and we get to know them a bit more we will have a nice future with GT1 in China.”
nr12 Exim Bank Team China Corvette Z06
“Today we concentrated on learning the circuit and doing set-up work on old tyres. The circuit is very tight with no real high speed corners and difficult kerbs at the exit to some corners. I think it will be difficult to overtake during the race. I think for the Corvette we will be OK over the kerbs but not for traction in general. Let’s see what happens tomorrow in the race but I think we can make the top 10 for sure.”
nr48 DKR www-discount.de Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV
"The first practice went really well, we were fifth for a while and it was looking quite good. Then in Pre Qualifying I literally did a lap and the fly wheel has gone. Initially we thought it was an electronic problem so I went back out again hoping it was fixed, but it was the fly wheel. A bit disappointing as both of us need time in the car, the only good thing is we've got an extra set of tyres and at least we had a good practice session earlier on. The car is good, very driver friendly and got used to it pretty quickly. Apart from this problem we are very well."