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FIA GT1 World Championship, San Luis (ARG), December 4th – 5th, 2010

FIA GT1 Word ChampionshipFor the final race of the 2010 season the twelve teams competing in the new FIA GT1 World Championship and their super sports cars met at the 6.27 km (3.89 miles) long track in San Luis, Argentina. The track is generally considered to be difficult because it is very dusty off the racing line and does not provide a lot of grip. As usual, Swiss Racing Team competed with driver duos Karl Wendlinger (AUT) / Henri Moser (CHE) and Seiji Ara (JPN) / Max Nilsson in two NISSAN GT-R’s.

The free practice session on Saturday already proved that the NISSAN GT-R’s which are very difficult to tune were able to show a good performance. Henri Moser was able to push tremendously. He reached P11 with his partner Karl Wendlinger. The team had a chance to reach Q3 in the qualifying for the first time because Wendlinger was also able to demand a lot from the GT-R and be successful in doing so. Meanwhile Seiji and Nilsson reached P18.

Due to a thunderstorm the pre-qualifying was delayed in the afternoon and was completed within a shorter timeframe. The track was mostly dry again. However, in some spots water flowed in rivulets across the tar. Swiss Racing and the majority of the other teams decided to start with wet tyres because it was infeasible to use slicks with these track conditions. Acceptable places were not possible under these conditions and in such a short timeframe; Ara/Nilsson reached 13 and Wendlinger/Moser P18 though.

Wendlinger was able to push in the first qualifying session and was among the top drivers at the beginning. However, he felt that the left rear tyre was not good. Therefore, the team installed four new tyres which did not develop at all, providing no performance for the Austrian pilot. The result was a disappointing last place in Q1. Equally, Japanese pilot Ara did not manage to qualify for Q2. Something similar happened with the sister team Sumo-Power and their NISSAN GT-R with starting number #22.

Swiss pilot Nilsson came on the track with his NISSAN in the warm-up on Sunday morning in preparation for the qualifying race and noticed noise in the engine after four laps. After a check the team decided to exchange the engine in the car with starting number #4. Even though the team worked perfectly the timeframe until the start of the qualifying race 45 minutes later was too short to exchange the engine. The car stayed in the pit during the session.

Henri Moser started in the other car on the last place and showed a sensational performance. After the first lap he had already reached P17, one lap later P13 when the safety car came out because of a crash in a narrow section. Thus, the Swiss pilot took P12 behind the safety car. He gained two more places until the driver changes were allowed. His partner, Karl Wendlinger, took over after a good pit stop. He was able to continue with the pace right away reaching top lap times and managed to defend his seventh place until the end. So far the best result for the team this season.

Leinders’/Martin’s Ford GT with starting number #40 which qualified in front of Wendlinger’s/Moser’s car for the main race was pushed back five places for an engine exchange. As a result, Wendlinger started the race in P6 with a good chance for championship points. However, after three laps the pilot informed the team via radio that his front tyres were not ok and provided no grip. Consequently, the lap times plunged and the car was only in P14 for the driver change in lap 11. The team did a short pit stop and Moser took over. In his first lap he fought for places with Tomas Enge (CZE) in an Aston Martin. Moser intended to pass the Czech pilot in a turn who closed in and left Moser no chance. They touched, Moser span and came back into the pit.
Seiji Ara started in the last place in the car with starting number #4 because the team had not participated in the qualifying race. Ara and Nilsson showed a good performance and finished the race in P13.

Team principal Othmar Welti: “We were very happy about our performance in the beginning. However, we discovered once again that it is extremely difficult to be able to win with the NISSAN GT-R. Karl Wendlinger managed well at the beginning of the first qualifying session until we needed to change the tyres which caused problems later on. It was not the first time this season that the tyres available to us apparently have a different quality. Henri Moser showed a sensational performance in his second stint in the qualifying race. The same can be said for Karl who drove two top laps after the driver change but only reached mediocre results with the NISSAN afterwards. The same happened in the main race, the tyres developed no grip and then Henri span off the track after a crash. Seiji Ara and Max Nilsson lacked the kilometres from the qualifying race which are necessary for such a difficult track.”

Teammanager Erich Kolb: “We were able to show a good performance with the car with starting number #3 which we are not able to keep up constantly. This was the case with both cars throughout the season. It is difficult to win points this way. Kudos to our mechanics who needed to exchange Max’ engine after the warm-up. 3.5 hours is a great time and made it possible for Seiji and Max to at least compete in the main race. The pit stops were perfect and we were able to gain places in the race because of this.”


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