JR Motorsport's Lucas Luhr and Michael Krumm became 2011 FIA GT1 world champions at the penultimate race of the season at San Luis, by finishing a fighting second behind Exim Team China's startling debut winners Yelmer Buurman and Francesco Pastorelli.
Buurman and Pastorelli's success in Saturday afternoon's qualifying race is the first occasion two rookies have won on their debut in the GT1 World Championship. The result is also Corvette's first victory of the season.
Polesitter Krumm lost out to determined Superleague Formula convert Buurman at the rolling start. Buurman belied his lack of GT experience to extend a 4.8-second lead by lap 12, when Krumm opted to make his mandatory pit stop from second place.
"It was difficult for us both, as we had not driven for that long on a set of tyres before," said Buurman. "We didn't know how hard to push, but I did the fastest lap three laps before my stop, so perhaps I could have gone faster in the early stages."
Pastorelli was handed the leading car on lap 14. The former Dutch Formula Ford champion, competing in only his second event in a year, expertly managed a 4.6sec advantage over a charging Luhr to survive with a 0.3sec margin of victory.
"Racecar drivers sometimes forget what it's all about," said Luhr. "My engineer came on the radio to remind me that it wasn't about the win today, so I decided not to make a move unless [Pastorelli] made a mistake and ran off-line. Hats off to those guys, though, they did a fantastic job."
Dominik Schwager and Nicky Pastorelli, older brother of Francesco, finished a distant third for the All-Inkl Lamborghini team. The Murcielago suffered from high tire wear toward the end of the stints, and was just 0.4sec ahead of the Enrique Bernoldi and Nicky Catsburg Sumo Power Nissan GT-R at the checkered flag.
Jamie Campbell-Walter's similar machine had run ahead of its sister Sumo entry, piloted by Bernoldi's teammate Nicky Catsburg, in the early laps. But the Briton and team-mate David Brabham were denied a strong finish owing to a lengthy delay in the pits.
A three-way battle for fifth provided much entertainment. The lone Young Driver Aston Martin of Alex Muller and Tomas Enge captured the position, after recovering from a poor start in which they slipped to ninth.
Muller moved ahead of Clivio Piccione's Hexis Aston on the pit straight on lap 18. Piccione ran wide at a chicane four laps from home, handing the second All-Inkl Lamborghini of Markus Winkelhock and Marc Basseng sixth place.
Results - 26 laps:
Pos Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Pastorelli/Buurman Exim Corvette 1h00m31.011s
2. Luhr/Krumm JRM Nissan + 0.316s
3. Schwager/Pastorelli All-Inkl Lamborghini + 17.054s
4. Bernoldi/Catsburg Sumo Power Nissan + 17.406s
5. Muller/Enge Young Driver Aston + 20.311s
6. Winkelhock/Basseng All-Inkl Lamborghini + 21.751s
7. Brabham/Campbell-Walter Sumo Power Nissan + 22.919s
8. Piccione/Dusseldorp Hexis Aston + 24.404s
9. Lauck/Haase DKR Lamborghini + 43.562s
10. Palttala/Leclerc Belgian Ford + 50.890s
11. Rossi/Verdonck Exim Corvette + 57.282s
12. Hirschi/Nygaard Belgian Ford + 1m14.414s
13. Kennard/Bruck DKR Lamborghini + 1m30.364s
14. Hohenadel/Piccini Hexis Aston + 2 laps
Martin/Clairay Marc VDS Ford 21 laps
Westbrook/Dumbreck JRM Nissan 9 laps
Leinders/Risatti Marc VDS Ford 1 lap