GT Open: Driver Journal - Isaac Tutumlu Portimao
The Second Round of the International GT Open saw a new face join the Corvette family. Isaac Tutumlu began his first race of the season with C6R team Selleslagh Racing Team (SRT), under the joint venture of "Barzani Racing Team," in their C6R GTE chassis machine. Below is a perspective of his weekend, in our latest "Driver Journal":
Welcome to my first Drivers Journal with Corvette Motorsport! Before the race, I was very excited to finally get to drive the Corvette C6R GTE for the first time, as I received a lot of nice compliments about the car and the corvette family and since then, I was dreaming every night about my debut.
I arrived to the track on Thursday morning to meet the team, my team mate, and the car. My first impressions were really good. SRT are a very nice and family oriented team, but importantly they are very competitive. They always want to win, and that was important for me when moving to a new team. The first impression of getting in to the car for the seat fitting, was a bit weird, because I was so used to being in the seat of a Porsche, so the driving position is very different, the steering wheel, the pedals, the bottoms, etc. Maxime Soulet told me that after a couple of laps I would become more comfortable with the car. The C6R GTE is a real racing car and you can feel it as soon as you see it and you jump in, so after that I was even more excited to drive the car on Friday first test session.
Friday morning we decided the strategy for the day and we decided to use the 2 hours of the private session to familiarize myself with the car, so I had a lot of time to drive the car, which allowed me to learn a lot of things. The first few laps I did, I was already very impressed. The car is so well balanced, especially the brakes, the Abs system, and not to mention the engine pushes like hell! The team elected for me to stay out for the first half of the official free practice session, so that I could continue my understanding of the car, while the second hour would be devoted to Maxime (after putting on fresh new tyres for him) and then see where we are for the day, after qualifying.
Sure enough were were damn quick and managed to get the fastest lap on the first free practice! We did some changes on the car regarding the wing, heights and others and we finally got a good setup that were were happy with. After my first day I went through telemetry with my engineer and Maxime, as I wanted to prepare the qualifying as best as possible and my best time that day was a 1:48.5, so my aim was to be on 47 by the time Saturday's qualifying arrived.
Saturday Morning saw qualifying 1 and 2, so I was up first to qualify the car, while my teammate would be in for Qualy 2. The car was again really really good and I overpassed my expectations, by doing a 1:46,7 and getting the pole for Race 1!! After my run, Maxime did the same great performance and took the pole for race 2, so it couldn't be better ahead of both races!
The first race of the weekend was at 3pm and the strategy was fairly straight forward: to keep the car in 1st position at turn one and try to push for the first batch of laps, then finally to control the gap from there. This is exactly what we did. I managed to stay P1 and push for the first laps. The only driver that could match us with speed was Andrea Montermini (in the Ferrari), with a gap of 5 seconds. I gave the car to Maxime and even though we had 20 seconds of handicap penalty, he remained in 2nd position and after only a few laps, he was able to catch Schiro in first, eventually overtaking him to slot us into the lead! So after all of this work, we managed to come home and win the first race!! My first time in a Corvette I got the pole, fastest lap, and we won the race. I couldn't have asked for a better start!
Looking towards Sundays race 2, it was going to be a bit harder than race 1. This was mostly due to the fact that we were carrying an additional 10 seconds more of handicap time, so in total we had 30 seconds of a handicap penalty. The strategy was the same than Saturdays race and Maxime keep the first position and gave me the car P1, but this time after all handicaps our position was 7th because of that penalty. I managed to overtake some cars including Montermini.
When I was attacking to overtake the third placed car, he just spun all of a sudden in front of me at a high speed corner! Thankfully I was able to narrowly avoid him, but ran wide allowing Montermini in the Ferrari to re-take back his position, thus profiting from that incident. I fought tooth and nail, trying to overtake him again, but the Ferrari is so fast in the straight and he didn't make any mistake. So in the end, we managed to bring home our car in 4th. However, after the race the second placed Corvette from V8 Racing was disqualified for being under the minimum weight, which brought us up to 3rd.
So overall it was definitely a great first weekend to remember: Two poles. Two fastests laps, P1 at race 1, P3 at race 2 and we are leading the championship (with Maxime Soulet)! We are also now only 1 point behind fellow Corvette team V8 Racing for the teams standings. And this is only the beginning. I am Looking forward to the next race in two weeks time at the Jerez circuit in Spain, and sharing my experiences with all of you again.
For more information on Isaac, visit the below links:
Full race replays (and live videos of the 2014 season) of Isaacs races can be viewed at: Corvettemotorsport.com/gtopen
As a bonus, below is a video of Isaac's pole lap from onboard his C6R GTE: