Abu Dhabi: Marc VDS race report

Mixed feelings for the Marc VDS Racing Team in Abu Dhabi The brand new FIA GT1 world championship started this weekend in Abu Dhabi. The Ford GT's of the Marc VDS Racing Team performed well, but had more than their fair share of bad luck: the...

Mixed feelings for the Marc VDS Racing Team in Abu Dhabi

The brand new FIA GT1 world championship started this weekend in Abu Dhabi. The Ford GT's of the Marc VDS Racing Team performed well, but had more than their fair share of bad luck: the car of Leinders and Kuppens finished 13th, even though they could have claimed a top-5 spot, while the Palttala-Kuppens car was hindered by clutch problems.

A special occasion needs a special setting: the very modern Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi welcomed the very first round of the FIA GT1 world championship. No less than 24 cars entered this first of ten rounds this season. During practice and the qualifying race it was the Zuber-Hennerici Corvette that dominated proceedings, but the first win in a main race went to a Ford GT of Matech Competition, in the hands of the French-German pairing Romain Grosjean-Thomas Mutsch.

An encouraging result for the Ford-clan, which has two GT's in the hands of the Marc VDS Racing Team. The car driven by Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin was the first of the Fords to claim its place by the spotlights, by setting the tenth time in practice, just in front of the Matech car. During the qualifying race Leinders and Martin finished in sixth, not bad for a first race in a new championship.

Unfortunately the front splitter was damaged when an Aston Martin hit the Ford driven by Martin and the necessary repairs took one minute longer than the time allowed (only 15 minutes!). That meant that Bas Leinders had to start the championship race from the pitlane. Eventually the Belgian pairing managed to climb to 13th, a result that did not satisfy the ambitions of the team.

But it went even worse for the sister car of Renaud Kuppens and Markus Palttala. They started the qualifying race in 15th, but managed only two laps due to persisting clutch problems. Since parc ferme rules apply in between the two races, there was not enough time for the staff of the Marc VDS Racing Team to repair the car and a very disappointed Kuppens and Palttala had to renounce for the second race.

Bas Leinders: "Of course this result did not meet our expectations, especially since we could claim a top-5 finish after the qualifying race. The hit Maxime took during that first race proved to be expensive, however. First of all during that qualifying race, because the front tyres suffered a lot under the vibrations. But then we lost all advantage of our favourable starting position, when the repairs took just one minute too long and we had to start the championship race from the pitlane. In the beginning of the race I could not avoid contact with a Lamborghini, that cost us even more time, and in the closing laps Maxime had a spin. But we cannot complain too much, because our teammates' weekend was completely ruined by their clutch problems. The next round in Silverstone is in two weeks' time, which gives us just enough time to adjust some settings on the car. That is if our cars can get back to the workshop in time, because the volcanic ash from Iceland is keeping the airplanes heading to Europe on the ground for now!"

-source: marc vds

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Bas Leinders , Renaud Kuppens , Romain Grosjean , Thomas Mutsch
Teams Marc VDS Racing