The first season of the FIA GT1 World Championship came to end this Sunday, on the Argentinean track of San Luis. For the Marc VDS Racing Team it was not the end they had hoped for, since both cars retired in the Championship Race. Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin's Ford suffered the second engine failure of the weekend, while a lack of radio communication spelled the end of Markus Palttala and Matteo Bobbi's race.

A dream setting. That is what the FIA GT1 World Championship needed to finish its inaugural season in style and that is what organiser SRO found in Argentina, with the San Luis track, drawn around an idyllic lake at the bottom of a volcano. A track with an impressive array of corners and bends, which puts high demands on the drivers, since the extreme vicinity of the walls could punish any mistake very hard. "Spa, but with walls", stated Aston Martin-driver Darren Turner, an opinion shared by many of his colleagues.

Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini only needed the Qualifying Race on Sunday morning to be sure of the first GT1 world title, and in that same race Bas Leinders and Maxime Martin set another of their famous comebacks: although the duo in the #40 Ford GT of Marc VDS Racing Team started in 12th, they finished the race in 3rd, less than half a second behind the Matech Ford GT of Westbrook-Mutsch!

A performance that held a lot of promise, but it was not to be. "During Free Practice the engine had blown, which cost us five grid positions for the Championship Race", Bas Leinders explains. "And I lost some more places at the start, when I was pushed wide by some less scrupulous drivers", Maxime Martin continued. "I regained the track in 19th." The Belgian driver climbed all the way back to 9th, before handing over to Bas Leinders. Soon after, the engine blew again however. "This has happened to us before, at the start of the season", team manager Jean-Michel Delporte explains. "We thought we had solved the problem, but apparently not. The engines will now be sent back to the US, to examine the cause of these incidents."

The Ford GT #41 of Markus Palttala and Matteo Bobbi looked set to erase the disappointment of the sister car. The Finn, who had started the main race in 15th, had gained quite a lot of places, but then the radio let go. It caused Palttala to miss the pit-window. "By the time I saw the pitboard on the wall, it already was too late. When I eventually came back to the pitlane, the team had decided to call it a day", an understandably disappointed Palttala explained.

That meant that the only real success for the team came on Saturday, when they won the pedalo race on the San Luis lake. Not really the end the Marc VDS Racing Team had imagined for the inaugural season of the FIA GT1 World Championship...

-source: marc vds