French motor sports team Hexis Racing is entering three Aston Martin DBRS9 cars in the 2008 FIA GT3 European championship. The decision is logical enough given that the Ledenon-based team was ever-present in last year's European championship, ...
French motor sports team Hexis Racing is entering three Aston Martin DBRS9 cars in the 2008 FIA GT3 European championship. The decision is logical enough given that the Ledenon-based team was ever-present in last year's European championship, although its main focus was on the French season. The difference this season is that Hexis Racing will be concentrating its efforts on Europe, in which it will be racing three DBRS9s instead of two.
Three top class crews
Four of the six retained French drivers have already been seen at the wheel of Hexis Racing Aston Martins during the course of the 2007 season. Frederic Makowiecki and veteran Jean-Claude Lagniez will be paired again. Another pairing will see two members of the Rodrigues family continue to make racing a home business. Uncle Manu will team up with nephew Julien, who is the driver who has clocked up the most appearances at the wheel of the team's Astons. He's the only driver to have raced in all the French and European outings last season. The third crew is singular in that in Pierre-Brice Mena and Thomas Accary it has one of the youngest average ages on the European circuit - 19 years!
The team manager's view
Philippe Dumas was in confident mood after the first winter shakedown. Everyone practiced on the home track in Ledenon in early February to shake off their mid-winter blues. "We had a great session of practice. It was beneficial not only for the drivers, but also for the new people who have joined our technical staff. It gave everyone the opportunity to take up their marks. Naturally it was Fred Mako, poleman in two of his five European outings last year, who served as the benchmark. The youngsters made good progress on the second day. Any single-seater racing driver needs a bit of time to adapt to the much heavier and more powerful GT car. But they soon got the hang of it and managed to crank up their lap times step by step.
"Our absolute priority is the European Championship, although that doesn't mean to say we won't enter other events if we think they will help us progress. We will also be doing more test practice than in 2007. Our cars and team structure bears the official Aston Martin Racing brand name; they see us as development partners. This means that we work in close collaboration with them, in particular as a proving ground for new parts and their subsequent fitting to other DBRS9s belonging to AMR customers racing in GT championships all over the world. So our positives are a solid relationship with Prodrive, the experience accrued in 2007, continuity thanks to the four drivers who have stayed with us, and the pep provided by the influx of youngtsers. We are going into the new season with the will to win - and not just with one of our cars either! We are aiming for a big result for the whole team."
FIA GT3 European Championship events
April 20th 2008 Silverstone; May 18th 2008 Monza; July 6th 2008 Oschersleben; September 14th 2008 Brno; October 5th 2008 Nogaro; November 15th 2008 Dubai
Hexis Racing 2007 achievements
FFSA GT3 Team Championship: 3rd with 2 race wins. FIA GT3 European Championship: 2 pole positions, 3rd at Silverstone, 2nd in the Aston Martin Manufacturers Cup with 2 class wins. Meet the team...
Frederic Makowiecki, born Nov.22nd, 1980. Hexis Racing driver since 2007.
Racing bio: Karting (Cadet French Champion, Shifter 125cc French Trophy runner-up), Formula 3B (5 podium finishes), GT-FFSA French Cup (2001 runner-up with 3 race wins, 2004 champion with 5 race wins), GT-FFSA Championship (4 race wins), Porsche Carrera Cup (6 race wins, 2nd in 2006 and 2007), FIA-GT (1 pole position), FIA-GT3 (1 overall podium finish, 2 overall pole positions).
"I'm pleased to start a new European campaign with Hexis Racing. The team is highly professional and it is always a pleasure to work with them. A driver needs to feel good with his team, it's very important. It's going to be an interesting challenge for me and Jean-Claude. After the experience we gained in 2007 we ought to be amongst the front runners more often this year. We aim to pocket as many top three spots as possible and go for the title."
Jean-Claude Lagniez, born Sept.12th, 1947. Hexis Racing driver since 2007.
Racing bio: started competitive racing in '65 (Renault 8 Gordini Cup), 11 Le Mans 24 Hours entries (GT2 class win in 1997), Touring cars, Porsche Carrera Cup, GT-FIA, GT-FFSA (French Championship runner-up in 98, 3rd in 2002), FIA GT3 (1 overall podium finish).
Julien Rodrigues, born Apr.13th 1982. Hexis Racing driver since 2004.
Racing bio: Karting, Formula France (7 podium finishes), Formula Renault 2.0, Touring cars, GT-FFSA French Cup (2006 runner-up), French and European GT3.
"I'm happy with the decision this season to focus on the European Championship, in which I already raced in 2007. The team has evolved into a truly professional outfit, so now we have got to win!"
Manu Rodrigues, born Oct.22nd, 1962. Hexis Racing driver since 2005.
Racing bio: Karting, Superkarts, Formula France, Touring cars, GT-FFSA French Cup (2006 runner-up), French and European GT3.
"We are full of optimism for this new European season. We found out last year that the Michelin tyres used in the European championship were quite good for our car. We have a good work schedule outside race meetings. The calendar of venues looks good too, although if they had given us the choice I would have gone for the Estoril not Oschersleben! [editor's note: hardly surprising since that is where Manu hails from! However, even in the ex-GDR Manu and Julien will not be without some Latin comfort as their new car engineer, Gil, is Portuguese!]
Pierre-Brice Mena, born May 19th, 1988. Hexis Racing driver since 2006.
Racing bio: French Formula Kart Championship runner-up in 2004, Formula Campus (9th in 2005 with 2 podium finishes), Formula Renault 2.0 (selected club races: 3rd in the French Cup with 2 race wins + selected French Championship races in 2006), winner of the 2008 Caterham driver search (awarded a free Caterham French Cup season).
"First of all, I am delighted to be racing again after having had to miss out on the 2007 season. Believe me, I'm fired up! I briefly had the chance to drive the Aston in the rain at the start of 2007. This is a super challenge for a young driver like me. I have had a few run outs with the team in Formula Renault but apart from Nogaro I don't know any of the European championship circuits."
Thomas Accary, born Nov.17th, 1987. Hexis Racing driver since 2008.
Racing bio: Karting, Formula Campus (7th in 2004 with 3 podium finishes including 1 race win), Formula Renault 2.0, Peugeot 207 Spider Cup (10th in 2007 with 1 podium finish).
"Racing in a GT3 is a good way to make a name for yourself. I have every confidence in the team, they have plenty of experience in GT racing. The Aston Martin is one powerful machine! Driving it marks a new direction in my career. And what a fantastic sound this car makes! Fred Mako did a great job in Ledenon on getting us to progress, including taking us round in the passenger seat. I'm so pleased to be sharing the wheel with Pierre-Brice. We've known each other since we did our FFSA training together when we were 16."
Hexis Racing's other new car chief mechanic is not a he but a she who goes by the name of Elise. Yes sir! She will be taking charge of the rookies' GT3 and hopes to pass her HGV test shortly so that she will be able to take the big wheel of the team's second race truck. One big piece of news is the welcome return of chassis guru Greg, who was with the team back in its Formula Renault days. He will be working alongside the British engineers seconded by Prodrive.
Tests On March 5-6, Hexis Racing will be taking part in development testing trials on the HTTT circuit in Castellet, along with other world-class competition Aston Martins of various types.