Stef Dusseldorp: "I was able to bring the car back to the pits, but the team soon realised that repairs would take too long and that we had no choice but to retire."
The Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3 did not see the chequered flag in the final round of the Blancpain Endurance Series at the Nürburgring. At the start of the third of the six hours in the race the English car was caught in a sandwich between two BMWs. The double impact resulted in damage to the left-hand front and right-hand rear drive trains, which it would have taken too long to repair.
The first setback came in qualifying. As has often been the case no. 7 was the quickest of the McLarens in free practice and during the pre-qualifying session with the second time overall. The combined times of the three qualifying sessions meant that the French-entered car could do no better than 14th place on the grid. Given the overall driver level, the quality of the teams entered and the exceptional stakes in the last race of the 2013 championship, the opening laps looked like being a free-for-all!
As at Paul Ricard and in the Spa 24 Hours, Alvaro Parente managed to pull back places as a few drops of rain sprinkled the circuit and moved up to eleventh overall and ninth in the Pro Cup category. The Portuguese driver’s next target was the no. 23 Nissan, which he passed.
Almost immediately he was punted into a spin by the no. 44 Ferrari that had followed in his footsteps! Thus, at the end of the first hour the Hexis Racing McLaren was in 15th place. Stef Dusseldorp took over and the deployment of the safety car gave the team an opportunity to make up some time. Hexis Racing decided to call in its driver for a refuelling stop. Unfortunately, the team would never find out whether or not it was the right call.
Dusseldorp tells us what happened at the start of the third hour: “Fifteen minutes from the end of my stint I tried to pass a BMW that was much slower than me on the entry to the Michael Schumacher Esses, but the driver closed the door. Although I lost momentum I was able to get level with him on the approach to turn 11.
Another BMW tried to take advantage of its greater speed to overtake us both. In my opinion, it was a dicey move. I was hit on the left-hand front and the right-hand rear. I was able to bring the car back to the pits, but the team soon realised that repairs would take too long and that we had no choice but to retire.”
“This race just about sums up our season,” said a resigned Philippe Dumas, the Hexis Racing team manager. We’ve had a lot of lows and not too many highs, but we mustn’t let it get us down. It can happen to anybody. As team manager and in the name of all its members we have to accept the way the race panned out and get over it as soon as possible. We invested a lot of hope in this event but things didn’t turn out as we’d have liked.
It was the case in qualifying and then Alvaro was tagged. But a great first pit stop and the decision to refuel under the safety car could have put us back in the running for a place in the top five. I’m not given to hindsight so whatever happens now we can be very proud of what we’ve achieved over all these years. We’re going to do everything we can to stop the rot in the French GT Championship and score a good result on home turf.”
The team won’t have to travel far as the sixth round of the GT Tour will take place on the Lédenon circuit a few dozen metres from its workshops on 11-12 October!