Performance... followed by bad luck for Maxime Martin
It was on the superb San Luis circuit in Argentina that the FIA GT1 World Championship came to an end this weekend. A final round which Maxime Martin and the entire Marc VDS Racing team were thoroughly looking forward to, a question of confirming their excellent top-5 place clinched a week earlier at Interlagos, in Brazil. "What a circuit!, the young Belgian exclaimed at the end of the first free practice session. It's unbelievable. Definitely one of the greatest....even though there are walls everywhere. On top of that the track is actually on roads normally open to daily traffic. This also means that there is dust and mud everywhere. You therefore need to keep a close eye on where you position the wheels ..."
Having completed four laps of this initial session, Maxime was faced with an engine problem when his team mate Bas Leinders was at the wheel. "In fact the engine broke, and we don't really know why, Martin explained. Nonetheless the team did what they had to, but in such cases the penalty is known: relegated 5 places down on the starting grid for the second race, namely the Championship Race. Not an ideal situation ..." Maxime made the most of the second free session to check whether everything was OK, prior to taking on the Q1 qualifying session. And the young Belgian driver clocked up an excellent 2nd best time overall. His team mate took on the Q2, but committed an error resulting in the Ford GT Marc VDS Racing landing up on the 12th row of the first of the two starting grids.
This Sunday morning Bas Leinders took a perfect start, narrowly missing an accident at the front of the pack, which allowed him to move up from 12th into 5th place. Maxime Martin took to the track in 6th place, working his way up into the top-3 and registering the best race lap time. A further example of the top speed this Brussels based driver can produce. "Super result and it looks pretty promising for the next race, notwithstanding the fact that we'll be in 8th spot on the grid for that one. But the Ford GT's potential is real on this circuit, and that's the most important ..."
Unfortunately for Maxime Martin the Championship Race wasn't to bring a smile to his face. These FIA GT1 races are so intense that any start from the middle of the pack brings about a fair amount of risks. "Sometimes it works, and at other times it turns sour. I was nudged right from the start which lost me quite a few places. After an initial climb back up I was pushed off the track! I dropped back to 19th spot prior to once more working my way back up into 10th place when I handed over to Bas Leinders. He took to the track in 11th position....when the engine blew once again. This time it was all over ..."
Complete disappointment on the one hand, but a positive initial world experience for Maxime Martin, who has demonstrated his competitiveness at the wheel of the Ford GT Marc VDS Racing, on whichever circuit he visited ... "In fact I am satisfied with our progress during this season. I know that I am up to claiming a top-5 or top-6, as shown by my lap times on numerous occasions. We must now constantly deal with race facts, which at times have obliged us to start from too far back on the grid. But in an apprenticeship year at this top level of Grand Touring racing our top speed was quite clearly there, and that in my eyes is what really counts."
-source: Maxime Martin