FIA-GT1 Abu Dhabi Championship Race Report

Abu Dhabi

Race Win for Aston Martin After Action Packed Race

Clivio Piccione and Stef Dusseldorp scored a maiden victory in the Championship Race at Yas Marina after the Hexis AMR team produced a lightening pitstop that leapfrogged the nr3 Aston Martin DB9 from 5th into the lead. Dusseldorp had to soak up immense pressure from former FIA GT2 Champion Richard Westbrook for most of the second half of the race but the 21-year-old former single seat driver didn't put a wheel wrong in his first ever GT race. At the chequered flag the nr22 JR Motorsport Nissan GT-R was less than a second behind to record their second top 3 finish of the weekend. After a rollercoaster weekend the nr Muennnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago of Marc Basseng and Marcus Winklehock finished in 3rd place to record the team's first ever podium finish in the FIA GT1 World Championship.

The race began with the nr41 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT of Maxime Martin on pole position, with Peter Dumbreck in the JR Motorsport Nissan alongside on the front row. At the start the Sumo Power Nissan of Enrique Bernoldi shot through from the second row to take the lead at the first corner, with Dumbreck getting into T1 before Martin. Further back Stefan Mucke in the nr8 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin was storming through the field from 15th, ending the opening lap in 8th place.

At the front Dumbreck was pressurising the leading Nissan of Bernoldi, while Martin was close behind the second placed JR Motorsport Nissan. For lap after lap the three cars circulated in formation, each trying to push the other into a mistake. Their battle allowed Winklehock and Piccione to close up to make it a five way battle for the lead as the pitstops approached. On lap 13 Martin finally got past Dumbreck's Nissan at T18 for second place just as the pit wndow opened.

Bernoldi, Martin, Piccione and Mucke all pitted together. The Sumo Power pitcrew went to work and got their car, with Ricardo Zonta now at the wheel, turned round in quick time. However the Marc VDS crew were even quicker and as the Nissan approached the Ford pit Makowiecki dived out in front but the two cars collided. They rubbed wheels for several metres before the Ford went through the tunnel ahead of the Nissan but Zonta's Nissan was damaged and had to return to the pits for a new tyre. Makowiecki was given a drive through penalty for the incident.

Meanwhile the Hexis pit crew had turned the nr3 car round and when the pitstops finished Stef Dusseldorp found himself leading the race, six seconds ahead of Richard Westbrook in the JR Motorsport Nissan. Westbrook then closed the gap and spent the next 20-minutes trying to pass the flying Dutchman in vain. At the chequered flag it was Dusseldorf and the rest of the Hexis team who celebrated a unexpected but very welcome victory.

Clivio Piccione and Stef Dusseldorf leave the Middle East with a two point advantage in the Championship, while Hexis AMR lead JR Motorsports by 11 points in the Team title race. Round 2 of the FIA GT1 World Championship will take place in Belgium at Zolder on Sunday 10 April.

Championship Race Driver Quotes

Clivio Piccione, Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9 No. 3
“It’s just an amazing feeling. I have to say a big thank you to the team, they made this win possible today – we had an amazing pit stop, the car has been good all the way through the weekend and it’s just the best start we can have! There was a lot happening at the front, but my aim was to stay as close as possible and out of trouble. Everything went to plan, and we knew we had a good pit stop and then Stef had a great drive at the end and I have to say a big well done to him for his first race in GT!”

Stef Dusseldorp, Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9 No. 3
“I feel incredible! I have no words to say, except that the team made this possible. We did a great pit stop in the first race and now the team did the same job and out me in first. All I had to do was finish the race, which wasn’t as easy as it sounds because of the Nissan so it feels incredible. I have good memories from Zolder (the next round), so hopefully we can have a repeat performance there!”

Peter Dumbreck, JR Motorsport Nissan GT-R No. 22
“To be honest, I made such a good start that I got a little paranoid that I had jumped it and I actually lifted a little. I managed to hold off the guys around me but Enrique got through, so I was following him and I think I had the pace over him but I just couldn’t get by safely. I thought when we jumped the Ford in the pit stops we were in the lead – and then I saw the Aston Martin ahead. With coming second you still get the benefits of being a little bit lighter, so I hope we can score some points at Zolder as well.”

Richard Westbrook, JR Motorsport Nissan GT-R No. 22
“First of all congratulations to Hexis and these guys, they thoroughly deserved it! I was probably as shocked as the commentators when I came out in front of the Ford and we were still P2, but I knew the gap, the laps left and it was quite nice to push and take risks – although Stef didn’t put a foot wrong. If someone had offered me two second places before the weekend I’d have been delighted though. I’m getting on really well with Peter, the team are doing a fantastic job and I’m just looking forward to Zolder now.”

Markus Winkelhock, Munnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago R-SV No. 38
“First of all I’d like to say thanks to Marc and the team. Everything was brand new to me this weekend, and after the bad luck we had with gearboxes this morning we almost didn’t manage the Qualifying Race. We finished sixth in that and now we have a podium though, which is just fantastic for us. I’m very happy and looking forward to Zolder, which I have good memories from after a podium in Formula Renault 3.5 on my last visit.”

Marc Basseng, Munnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago R-SV No. 38
“It’s just unbelievable. If you look at our results last year I think we were at the bottom, so it’s a massive change for us. Even with our troubles this morning we got it together; Markus did a tremendous job on his first race and all my thanks have to go to my mechanics too. Being on the podium is the best I can give to them in return – for me today it feels like we won.”

Nicky Catsburg, Exim Bank Team China Corvette Z06 No. 11
“In the first race we had some crazy problems with oversteer, and while it was better in the second race the car was just not quite quick enough – in qualifying, for two or three laps the car is quite good but we struggled in the races. Everybody had the winter to prepare, but it came together really late for us and I had never driven this car or this circuit before. We need to see what we can make happen, but the team has worked very hard and I think we can turn it around for Zolder.”

Maxime Martin, Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT No. 41
"When we started in GT1 last year it was not so easy and we had some bad luck, so to win the first race of the new season was fantastic for the whole team. It was a great feeling. In the championship race I didn't get the best start, I was about fifth off the line but managed to retake third at the first corner, which was a little bit crazy. It was difficult to pass the Nissans in front because their engine is amazing compared with ours, but I eventually managed to pass Dumbreck to take second just before the pit stop. The changeover was fine, but then Mako and Zonta came together in pit lane and the drive-through penalty meant we couldn't do better than eighth in the end. Not a bad result overall, but now we have to see we can do in Zolder."

Darren Turner, Young Driver Aston Martin DB9 No. 8
“There was obviously disappointment after race one, when we had it in the bag really until a small problem at the pit stop, but Stefan had a fantastic opening lap, managed to find a way through and by the time of the pit stop we were seventh. We ended up fifth so overall happy to get some points in the bag, we won’t carry much ballast for the next race and we’ll crack on with it. We’re at the stage (in the championship) where the balance of each car is very equal, so a lot will come to which car suits which circuit.”

-source: fia-gt1

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Enrique Bernoldi , Ricardo Zonta , Darren Turner , Peter Dumbreck , Clivio Piccione , Markus Winkelhock , Stefan Mücke , Marc Basseng , Maxime Martin , Richard Westbrook , Stef Dusseldorp , Nicky Catsburg
Teams Nissan Motorsports , Münnich Motorsport , JR Motorsports , Marc VDS Racing
Tags fia-gt1