First race, first victory for Maxime Martin
Scheduled this last Friday and Saturday in Abu Dhabi, the first round of the FIA GT1 World Championship allowed Maxime Martin, his new team-mate Fred Makowiecki and Marc VDS Racing to take on the 2011 sporting season on a high note, a victory brilliantly clinched in the Qualifying Race. And even though lady luck was not on the side of the Ford GT #41 in the Championship Race, where they finally finished off in 8th place following a Drive Through, the initial balance sheet looks pretty positive ...
" All the more so as everything had started off rather badly for us during the test runs on Wednesday, with a broken engine, Maxime explained. However the team were soon able to pinpoint the problem's origins and during the two free practice sessions we were able to put on the pressure. Together with Fred Makowiecki, we handled the qualifying sessions perfectly, clinching a 3rd place overall which later was converted into a place on the front of the grid following a penalty given to the Lamborghini, who had in fact grabbed pole position. "
Fred Makowiecki took the start of the first round on the day, staying in the wake of the race leader prior to handing over the wheel to Maxime Martin. " The leading Aston Martin experienced problems, and I took on a great battle with Peter Dumbrek's Nissan. I held on to my lead allowing me to win my first victory in an FIA GT1 World Championship! A quite exceptional result, especially after a somewhat complicated 2010 season. What a great way to kick off the season in the Marc VDS Racing colours... "
Finding himself at the wheel of the Ford for the second start Maxime went from 1st to ... 5th place without really being able to react. ... " I found myself surrounded by three Nissan GT-R, all with a quite phenomenal torque, and they literally left me standing. Then a collision followed and I was able to recover 3rd place. On each straight the Nissan's were gaining 50 meters on me, but I kept on fighting, to finally come out in 2nd spot, and breathe down on the leader in less than half a lap. It was then time to hand over the relay to Fred, who left the pits at the same time as Ricardo Zonta. The two cars nudged each other ... in the pit-lane, and we were rewarded with a Drive Through which set us back into 8th place. Obviously a great pity because at least a top-3 would have been on the books for us ... "
It goes without saying that this first round of a world championship turned out to be a great success for the young Belgian ... " We knew that the Ford would be competitive here, notwithstanding the fact that this was the sole car not to have been given any advantages as compared to last year during the Balance of Performance tests. The Lamborghini lost 10 kilos, the Nissan 50 kilos; the Aston was given permission to receive a new rear aileron. And for us, nothing! When it comes to acceleration we're weak as compared to the others, but the Ford chassis is really good, allowing us to compensate somewhat. The second round of the world championship is being held in Belgium, in Zolder, another circuit where the chassis's qualities will be put to good use. We need to score a maximum number of points on home ground and take full advantage of the 40 kilos of ballast the Abu Dhabi winners will be carrying. I'm truly confident as the team has all the experience required to come out on top, and the understanding between myself and Fred Makowiecki is really good. And once you've had a taste of victory you want more of the same! "
Prior to Zolder, Maxime will have the opportunity to become acquainted with the Aston Martin DBR9 GT3 LMP Motorsport which he will share with Gael Lesoudier in the FIA GT3 European Championship, during three practice sessions scheduled in Portimao, Navarra and at Paul Ricard. It's all go ...
-source: Maxime Martin PR