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Swiss RacingteamFor the seventh race of the season the twelve teams competing in the FIA GT1 World Championship met in Portimao in Southern Portugal. The 2.89 miles (4.652 km) long track with its varying heights and many narrow turns is very challenging and offers few possibilities for passing competitors.

Swiss Racing Team with the driver duos Karl Wendlinger (AUT)/Henri Moser (CHE) and Seiji Ara (JAP)/Max Nilsson (SWE) worked hard after the last race at Nürburgring to prepare both NISSAN GT-R’s for the track. The team and the pilots used the two days of testing at Eurospeedway Lausitz beforehand to make themselves even more familiar with the cars and to test changes in the setup.

The cars with the starting numbers 3 and 4 showed a good speed in the first practice session which took place in sunny but wet conditions. In the pre-qualifying session the pilots were able to drive the GT-R’s with high speed, this time in dry conditions. Henri Moser was very happy that balance and braking were perfect by then.

Austrian Wendlinger and Japanese Ara started in the first qualifying session. Apparently Wendlinger’s car was not equipped with an ideal tyre set. Even though it was a new set the Austrian was not able to reach times as good as would have been possible with a used set. Consequently, Karl Wendlinger did not reach the Top16 and the car stayed in the pit after Q1. Teammanager Erich Kolb about the tyre problem: “Something is not right when pilots with used tyres reach better times than pilots with new tyres. We were not the only team with this problem.”
Ara handled his GT-R and the track perfectly and was able to place 5th of 23 cars. He was also the fastest NISSAN pilot. Therefore Nilsson got the chance to compete in the second qualifying session. However, he only reached P15 which also was the starting position for the qualifying race.

Again, both cars were involved in collisions in Saturday’s qualifying race even though all teams complain that this has to be reduced in order to avoid expensive damages. Henri Moser started the race in the NISSAN with starting number 3 from P18, reached P11 for a short while and handed the car over to his partner Karl Wendlinger in P12. He was forced to drive the car back into the pit with a broken rim after a collision only a few laps later.
Max Nilsson started from P14 in the team’s second car. He gained two places right away and handed the car over to his colleague Seiji Ara in lap 14. Ara showed a good performance and drove the NISSAN across the finish line in P11.

The main race on Sunday took place in sunny and dry conditions. Swiss Racing Team’s GT-R’s took the start positions 22 (#3) and 11 (#4). Wendlinger had a very good start and pushed forward to P14 in the first four laps. Then Swiss pilot Henri Moser took over. He managed to reach top lap times but was held up by the field in front of him. He had no chance for passing. For safety reasons due to strong vibrations in the car the team called him into the pit before the end of the race.
Seiji Ara started in a different car and reached P7 in the first lap after a great start. However, Ara was given a drive through penalty for his involvement in a start collision. When he was about to come in for the penalty he started spinning in the last turn at very high speed, causing a loss of positions and a damaged set of tyres. Consequently, the race was also finished for the car with starting number 4. Max Nilsson continued the race and got back on track one lap behind the top group. Shortly before the end of the race he was forced to give up due to a damaged tie rod.

Team manager Erich Kolb: “The tests at the Eurospeedway were very good for us and we were able to demonstrate here in Portimao that the performance is fine. We observe a massive increase in our speed. Seiji Ara reached the fastest lap time of the four NISSAN GT-R’s in Q1. However, it is still frustrating that there are so many expensive collisions and nothing seems to change.”

Team principal Othmar Welti: „This weekend we were able to show that we are very fast now and that we caught up with the others. The tests at Eurospeedway were very helpful. We just need some luck which we were lacking all season. I am very happy with this weekend’s performance but it is difficult to fight through the strong middle field in the main race if the qualifying race did not work out perfectly. Besides, Portimao is a track where you cannot really pass cars. We are now looking forward to the next race in Navarra because we are finally at a point where changes in the setup bring the expected results.”

The next FIA GT1 World Championship race will take place on October 22nd -24th, 2010 in Navarra, Northern Spain.

Quelle: mr/motioncompany

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