TURKEY SEALS INAUGURAL FIA GT NATIONS CUP IN BAHRAIN
Turkey won the inaugural FIA GT Nations Cup in Bahrain, following an hour-long finale under the lights on Saturday evening. The winning car was a Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Salih Yoluc and Ayhancan Guven, which was at the forefront of the two qualifying races as well, with a third and a first.
The main race was action-packed from start to finish, with a first-lap incident leading to a long safety car period. After the safety car came in, Turkey hunted down the United Kingdom Ferrari – which eventually finished second – while Denmark finished third with another Ferrari.
A total of 18 nations was represented with seven different car brands. They all used Pirelli’s P Zero DHD2 tyres, coping with the challenge of managing the compound both in the hotter temperatures of the day as well as the falling track temperatures that characterised the main race.
Sorting the strategyEach team had five sets of DHD2 tyres for the entire weekend, to last for two free practice sessions, a qualifying session, two qualifying races and the main race. Managing these tyres was one of the keys to the race weekend. While there was an obligatory driver change halfway through the main race, there was no mandatory tyre change. As a result, all the teams completed the race on a single set of tyres, mostly saving a new set for Saturday evening’s race.
Coping with the conditionsConditions in Bahrain were tricky, because of the track surface – which is quite abrasive, made mostly of granite – and also the weather: hot during the day, cooler during the evening, with shifting winds as well. The absence of tyre changes presented its own additional challenge: drivers doing the second stint had to quickly get used to a set of part-worn tyres and work out how to maximise their consistency to the flag. Although the GT3 teams had extensive experience of the DHD2 tyre from the Blancpain series, they were new to several of the drivers, many of whom were also unfamiliar with their cars at this special end-of-season race.
Speed ChampionAs it did in Macau for the recent FIA GT World Cup, Pirelli once again awarded trophies to the best qualifiers. The winner of the Pirelli Speed Champion trophy was Belgium, with its Audi R8 driven by Mike Den Tandt and Charles Weerts. Having been fast throughout the weekend, the car was unfortunately eliminated in the first-lap incident.
More GT4As well as the FIA GT Nations Cup, Pirelli also supplied the GT4 International Cup in Bahrain. These used P Zero DH tyres, with an entry list that was even bigger than GT3: 21 cars and 10 different brands. The Alpine A110 GT4 emerged as the winner after a competitive and closely-matched race.
QuotesMatteo Braga, Pirelli racing technical manager: “With such a wide variety of drivers, cars and races, the inaugural FIA GT Nations Cup proved to be a resounding success. In total, we brought around 1500 tyres for both GT3 and GT4. These proved to be well-adapted to the conditions as well as the format of the weekend, allowing all the different manufacturers to fight for the lead in both series. This close competition underlines the technology transfer successfully carried through from GT3 to GT4. Managing the tyres was a big factor during the weekend, especially as teams did not change them in the races, and had to cope with some tricky re-starts after safety car periods.”
What’s next?The FIA GT Nations Cup comes to Pirelli’s homeland next year, with an announcement over the weekend that the 2019 event will take place at Vallelunga, near Rome, from November 1-3.
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For further information about the FIA GT Nations Cup, please visit: www.fiagtnationscup.com