The Belgian round of the FIA GT1 World Championship was a tough scrap,
and HEXIS AMR had to call on all its race craft to score good results.
There were several spectacular crashes, and some of the overtaking
manoeuvres would not have been out of place on a fairground dodgems'
rink! The No.4 Aston Martin DB9 of Andrea Piccini and Christian
Hohenadel took over from its sister car to keep the colours of HEXIS AMR
flying. The Italo-German pairing was forced to retire when leading the
qualification race. They then fought their way from tenth on the grid to
the second step of the podium in the championship event. The Abu Dhabi
winners, Clivio Piccione and Stef Dusseldorp, did a great job coping
with the 30-kg ballast and bagged the points for sixth place in both
races. These results have helped HEXIS AMR to double its lead in the FIA
GT1 World Championship for Teams, and its four musketeers are in the
top three in the drivers' ratings.
Despite a broken gearbox in prequalifying practice, Christian Hohenadel, the reigning European FIA GT3 Champion, set a superb fourth-quickest time in Q1. His team-mate, former FIA GT Championship runner-up Andrea Piccini, put the team in Q3 for the first time this season, and Christian put on a final spurt to give no. 4 sixth place on the grid for the qualifying race. Piccini avoided the chaos at the start and finished his first stint in sixth place. Once again the French squad carried out a stunning pit stop, the best of the field, sending Christian out in the lead. He held on to first place until just over two laps from the flag. Basseng in his Lamborghini tried to go round the Aston on the outside in the chicane leading onto the pit straight: the two cars made contact under braking and the DB9's suspension broke. So an uphill task awaited the team on Sunday as Hohenadel had to start from tenth place on the grid. He managed to avoid becoming involved in another crash, and was running in ninth place when the safety car neutralized the race for a good ten minutes - so no overtaking. Once again the HEXIS AMR guys took full advantage of the tyre and driver changes to pull back seven positions, and Piccini rounded off their good work by consolidating his second place as he inched away from Tomas Enge in the Young Driver AMR Aston.
After its Abu Dhabi victory, the no. 3 Aston Martin had to carry 30 kilos of ballast - the fruit of success as it were! Despite this handicap it set good times throughout the weekend thanks to efficient work by the technical team ? except in qualifying! Clivio Piccini having his first taste of the circuit did not manage to get the best out of his tyres and made a small mistake at the end of Q1. He paid cash for his error given the tiny gaps between the protagonists in this very exciting world championship. In the qualifying race, no. 3 started from fifteenth place on the grid and fought its way up to sixth. Andrea Piccini and Stef Dusseldorp finished in the same place in the championship event despite a technical problem during their pit stop ? for once! They are lying second in the FIA GT1 World Championship for Drivers just in front of their team-mates.
Overall, the team was satisfied with its performance in the second round of the world championship. ?Globally speaking, the weekend went off well without too much damage to the two cars,? smiled team manager, Philippe Dumas. ?We made a few small mistakes, notably during Clivio and Stef's pit stop on Sunday. Humanly it was almost perfect but the air nozzle came out which prevented us from gaining places as we've got used to doing. It proves that we have to continue working as every detail counts. I'm delighted to see how quick our four drivers ? and our cars ? are, which boosts our confidence. On no. 3 we managed to adapt the setup to cope with the thirty kilos of ballast. We ran on worn tyres to prepare for the race during the prequalifying session. Getting into Q3 is a step forward in relation to Abu Dhabi. Only the All Inkl Munich Motorsport Lamborghinis were quicker than us at Zolder, but they must have found a special tweak to dominate the other Lamborghinis to such an extent, which have very good drivers. Now, there's no question of relaxing as we want to make our debut in endurance a real success.?
The Blancpain Endurance Series kicks off this weekend (16-17 April) at Monza. The HEXIS AMR GT3 Aston Martin DBRS9s of Makowiecki-Moser-Vannelet and Clairay-Mena-Rodrigues will be up against tough opposition: 37 cars including 30 GT3s make up a field with names like Ferrari, Porsche, Ford, Lamborghini, Corvette and Audi.