Guillaume kicks off his season with a podium finish!
The Silverstone circuit in England hosted the first round of the 2009 FIA GT Championship last weekend. After a hard-fought race, Guillaume Moreau and Xavier Maasen in their Luc Alphand Adventures Corvette C6.R finished on the podium.
In mid-April, the FIA GT teams were at Paul Ricard for the media days and it was the final occasion to size one another up before the season's kick off. Guillaume Moreau left the Var circuit with the quickest time and was very optimistic about his Corvette's potential. Since then the Frenchman and the Luc Alphand Adventures team have not spared their efforts to prepare for the season. "We did a lot of work on strategy especially driver changes, which have to be much quicker that at Le Mans."
At Silverstone, the team started off by fine-tuning the Corvette's setup. "The team didn't really know this track very well with this particular car setup. There were several small things we had to correct during the two free practice sessions. I did the first one and Xavier took over for the second. We made a small mistake managing our two sets of new tyres. I should have had two sets to tackle qualifying in the best conditions. With a performance window at its optimum on the first flying lap, the Michelin tyres don't allow for any errors," says Guillaume. "I pushed as hard as I could without knowing the car's real potential. I made a small mistake in the first corner and then I was baulked at the end of my lap. I set the fifth-quickest time but we were quick enough for third."
After qualifying Guillaume also did the first stint. "I made a very good start and I was in a position to attack the two cars in front of me, but I didn't try to rush things and I kept my place in the first corner. I soon found myself stuck behind Mike Hezeman's Corvette. I was quicker than him but I couldn't find a way past. When we got among the tail-enders I managed to surprise him and overtook him on the outside in Becketts!"
The Frenchman was fourth after half-an-hour's racing and he tried to close the gap to the leading Saleen and Maseratis. He had a 17-second lead over Hezemans before handing over to Xavier Maasen. "Just at that moment the safety car was deployed after one of the Maseratis retired. We got into third place but Anthony Kumpen, Hezeman's team-mate, closed the gap. Xavier held him back until the second stop, which didn't go off as well as the first. We lost time and I rejoined with under half-a second's lead over Hezemans."
Guillaume managed to hold on to his third place in his final stint. After making it onto the rostrum he was delighted with his performance. "This third place is almost as good as a victory. The Saleens and Maseratis were uncatchable on this circuit. Thanks to good teamwork and the good relationship between Xavier and I, we collected a large haul of points and also a lot of experience. In the coming races I think we'll be able to compete with the Maseratis, but it'll be much more difficult to beat the Saleens. I hope that the FIA will readjust the performances between the different cars."