JRM Racing geared up for Avon Tyres British GT championship opener at Oulton Park
JRM Racing is gearing up for its first race of the 2013 season this weekend; the opening round of the Avon Tyres British GT championship at Oulton Park. The Daventry-based squad will field two Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 cars in the series opener, which will feature two one-hour races on 1 April.
JRM has worked round the clock to prepare the two cars, having confirmed its presence at the Cheshire event just three days ago following the conclusion of a deal with rising star of British endurance racing, Jody Fannin, and returning racer, Mark Cole.
In an almost unprecedented move in British GT racing, Jody and Mark will be the sole driver in each V6, 550bhp machine, which will be liveried in the distinctive black and red colours of JRM Racing. Nineteen-year-old Jody will pilot car #230 while Mark gets behind the wheel of #320.
The decision to run Mark and Jody in separate cars was taken in close consultation with the drivers on account of the penalties applied to a silver-silver driver pairing. Following his British GT4 championship drivers’ crown in 2012, Jody is rated as a silver, while Mark is similarly graded as a result of his past successes, which include the Porsche Club GB GT3 Cup title in 2002 and championship runner-up in the 2001 Autobytel Lotus Elise Series.
JRM Racing team principal James Rumsey explained the decision in more detail, ‘Should the two drivers race together, the regulation is such that two silvers must carry a 65kg weight penalty for the entire race. This penalty is disproportionate to the performance advantage we will gain from having a silver driver racing against a bronze, for the 14 laps the situation is expected. The motivation of JRM Racing, and the drivers, is to find competitive bronze drivers to extend this weekend’s race into a full championship campaign. We will therefore take a time penalty of 20secs, which will be added onto the pit stop time. This is much more in line with offsetting the pace of the silver drivers against the bronze drivers, and will hopefully see a much more representative performance from the car and drivers.’
As reigning GT4 champion, this weekend will be Jody’s racing debut in a GT3 car, but he takes confidence in the fact he won at Oulton in 2010 and 2012 and rates the undulating circuit as one of his favourites on the calendar. Allied to this, Jody also familiarised himself with the team and the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 at a test in Snetterton earlier this week: ‘I got some decent laps in the car at Snetterton,’ commented Jody. ‘I was happy with my pace and felt I gelled with everyone, which is really important considering the first race is so close.’
Jody’s impressions of the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 were also very positive. ‘It’s a massive step up from the GT4 I am used to, with a lot more power, but overall, the car is very easy to jump into and be fast. The main difference is the increased power so you need to be a lot more gentle on the throttle on the exits of the corners. There is also more high-speed grip and it carries more speed through the corners, but the low end torque of the engine is also great, which will be important out of Oulton’s slow corners.’
The challenge of driving solo in his first-ever GT3 race clearly does not daunt the half South African, half British racer; ‘I’ll obviously be driving on my own in two one hour races, but I am really looking forward to it – I’ve been training hard and Oulton is one of my favourite tracks! There is obviously a very competitive field this year, probably the toughest the championship has ever seen, so we’ll go in with an open mind and see where we are in practice and qualifying. We’re aiming for a good result, but we need to be realistic with the limited testing we have had.’
For Mark Cole, this weekend will be his return to car racing after stepping away from the sport for more five years as he focused on business interests. However over this time he also took the unusual step of racing motorcycles as a means to remaining race sharp. 'Racing bikes was a mega experience that I would recommend to any car racer to try, ' said Berkshire-based Mark. 'If you think a race car is quick, then think again once you enter the world of bike racing. The concept is exactly the same: we are all racing on the same tarmac to win, the skill sets are also similar to a point, but applied in different techniques. The consequences of mistakes on a bike can however be catastrophic so it encourages even more finesse, smoothness and accuracy since the slightest inputs from you have a huge impact on the overall performance of the machine. Once you have that sort of experience, nothing else daunts you. There also nice skills that if managed correctly, can be very beneficial in a race car…let's see this weekend!’
Mark however does not underestimate the challenge ahead, which will also see him taking on the daunting Oulton circuit single-handed. ‘I took the Snett test relatively easy so I could get up to speed. I did about 20 laps, and got a good impression of the car from that limited time. The biggest surprise was actually the braking effort required – this is something I’ll have to work on over the weekend, but once I get used to it I am sure it will be fine. All the same I’d like to leave the event thinking I’ve done myself justice. Of course driving solo in two races will be tough, and it’s a hugely competitive field so I’m under no illusions about how difficult it will be. Oulton is one of my favourite tracks though and I’ve won there in Porsches and Lotus so I’m going to try to enjoy it and see where we are at the end.’
Team manager and chief engineer Nigel Stepney echoed the drivers’ thoughts following the test this week, which saw both cars shaken down ahead of the Oulton round. ‘We covered over 500km with the two cars at Snetterton, with Jody and Mark covering close to 40 laps in total. It was good to get this experience of working together before the race weekend – and for Jody and Mark to get some running with the 2013 upgrade package for the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. Given the short lead time, any running counts!
‘Both the drivers and ourselves as a team have got ambitions to do as well as we can in this season opener. Preparing two cars in just two days – including for the test at Snetterton – was no mean feat, but we are all positive about what this weekend will bring.’
The 2013 British GT championship opens with an impressively large grid, with more than 30 cars scheduled to take the start. The JRM Racing Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 will be pitted against prestigious cars including the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Porsche 997 GT3 R and Audi R8 LMS Ultra, while Jody and Mark will line up against star drivers including ex-F1 driver and Le Mans winner, Mark Blundell, sportscar veteran Warren Hughes and BTCC driver Michael Caine.
The racing weekend features two one-hour racing sessions and two 15 minute qualifying sessions on Saturday 30 March with two one-hour races on Easter Monday. With no driver pairing winning more than two races last season, the form is completely open. The GT action is supported by the F3 Cup championship.
Source: JRM Racing
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