JRM Racing is ready for the next stage of its Blancpain Endurance Series campaign this weekend: the three-hour race at Paul Ricard, France. The Daventry-based squad will again field its formidable Pro car line up of Lucas Luhr, Peter Dumbreck and Steven Kane in the #23 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3, with Matt Bell, Charles Bateman and Humaid Al-Masaood sharing the #230 Pro Am entry. Following the fourth and fifth placed finishes for the Pro and Pro Am cars respectively at the last event in Silverstone, this time out JRM is aiming to finish on the rostrum in both classes.
The aim is realistic, but ambitious, since JRM will be engaging more than 60 cars on the 5km track in the south of France. Competition will be strong, with the Kessel Racing Ferrari and McLaren of Hexis Racing also enjoying competitive starts to the season. The Pro Am field is proving to be just as hotly contested, with two different winners in two races and the formbook completely open.
The Paul Ricard track has however been a happy hunting ground for JRM in the past, with Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm claiming a double win in 2011 in the FIA GT1 World Championship. With this in mind, JRM team principal James Rumsey is in a fighting mood ahead of the third event of the series, ‘Historically we’ve performed well at Ricard, and with the improvements we’ve made to the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 this season I’ve got no reason to think this will change this year.
‘We started the championship well and laid some good foundations, and we moved forward again at the last event in Silverstone. Over that weekend we identified some areas we could improve even further, and the gap between races has given the chance to get on top of them. We saw what the car is capable of, and seeing RJN take the Pro Am win gives us an indication of what the car can achieve. We’re definitely aiming for at least the podium with both cars.’
Team manager and chief engineer, Nigel Stepney, summarises the progress made since Silverstone: ‘We saw in Monza and Silverstone that the basics were right, but now we’ve had the time to concentrate on the smaller points that should give us the last 10% of performance. For example, we have been working very closely with Öhlins to improve damping settings. By tweaking the dampers we have been able to give improved stability and ride, which should pay dividends in the mid to low speed corners and over the bumps. We have also got on top of the tyre behaviour. In Silverstone we had a couple of issues with tyre pressures being too high, particularly on the Pro Am car. We had a good look at everything back in the factory and feel we understand it a lot better. Ricard is traditionally a track that is hard on the tyres, so this should also stand us in good stead.’
Like team-mate Peter Dumbreck, Lucas Luhr comes straight to the wheel of the #23 Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 Pro car from the 24 Hours of Le Mans; ‘I am taking it easy this week, just some light training to recover from the 24 Hours of Le Mans,’ said the German. ‘After that, going back to a three hour race will really feel like a sprint race, only one stint and I am done, then it is up to Kaney and Peter!
‘We made a good step with the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 at Silverstone,’ he continued, ‘And I am sure the guys at JRM have been working hard to make further steps for Paul Ricard. I am looking forward to the weekend as I have fond memories of our double win there in 2011 with the GT-R GT1, which was really the cornerstone of our championship win with Michael Krumm and JRM.’
In the sister #230 Pro Am Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 Charles Bateman will team up with Matt Bell and Humaid Al-Masaood.
Lincolnshire-born Charles first got behind the wheel of the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 at the pre-season test at Ricard, and eagerly anticipates his return to the French circuit: ‘The first test seems like a long time ago! We’ve made a lot of improvements to the car since then. We knew it was fast on the straights, but the tweaks we’ve made to the balance and stability should really help in the slower sections as well, so we should have a very strong overall package. We saw in Silverstone that we had made a step forward, but it was a shame we could not take advantage of this in the race. We seemed to have a problem with the tyre pressures, but I know that the guys have been working hard on this so I look forward to seeing the results. Equally I’ve been working on my fitness and we’ve remodeled the seat slightly so all this should combine nicely. We just missed out on the podium in Silverstone so this has got to be the aim this time out!’
JRM Racing will be doing battle with more than 60 GT3 machines this weekend. The action kicks off at 09:00hrs on Saturday 29 June, with the race starting at 15:00hrs local time on Sunday.