x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

A weight off Campbell-Walter's mind

Briton won at Silverstone 10 years ago and the Sumo Power driver hopes better result than in Abu Dhabi, following rule change on his car.

Jamie Campbell-Walter is hoping lightning can strike twice for him at Silverstone after he and his Sumo Power team were given a major boost ahead of today's second round of the GT1 World Championship. The Briton won on the Northamptonshire track 10 years ago on his way to becoming FIA GT champion and aims to replicate that victory.

Campbell-Walter, Yas Marina's official Formula One driver, had a frustrating time at the opening race of the championship in Abu Dhabi, finishing more than a minute off the pace in 12th place behind Romain Grosjean and Thomas Mutsch, the race winners in their Ford GT car. He and Warren Hughes, his co-driver, toiled in their Nissan GT-R as it struggled with an extra 30kg weight ballast following balance performance tests on the car held prior to the first race.

But that has now been removed by the FIA following further tests and a complaint to the governing body. Campbell-Walter said he and his team were thrilled. "We have had that 30kgs taken off and we have also had another 20kgs taken off as well so we are obviously very pleased with that," he said. "It is a big thing and should help us move up and be challenging for a top-10 spot. You could see in Abu Dhabi that it clearly was a problem for all the Nissan cars and hopefully this will allow us to be more competitive."

But despite the weight reduction, the Briton is realistic about his chances of winning and acknowledged not all their lack of speed at Yas Marina was down to being heavy. "I think while it did play a part I would say it was half of the problem," he said. "I think the other half of the time will be found in developing the car as we are a very new team, which is learning about the car all the time."

Campbell-Walter added: "I won there 10 years ago on my way to becoming champion and hopefully that is an omen of things to come this weekend. "We need to get some points on the board. We will be looking at getting in and being around the top 10 and pushing for the top six." The opening race of the new championship saw plenty of overtaking, collisions and spins, something that was not an usual sight in the past in GT racing. But the new one-hour format for the races caused excitement in Abu Dhabi, and Campbell-Walter, despite some reservations, thinks it could aid the growth of sportscar racing.

"I am an endurance driver and like the challenge of taking part in races such as Le Mans," he said. "What we have already seen is drivers racing each other until the last lap and trying to out-brake each other and throwing it down the inside of another car. "Normally you would take your time and make sure you did the pass cleanly but now the incentive is there to push on. "But the shorter race distance is more appealing to crowds and TV viewers and if that increases interest and crowd sizes then it can only be good."

gcaygill@thenational.ae