HEXIS AMR still in the running The HEXIS AMR team's South American foray has got off to a good start. After the ninth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship in Brazil, the French squad has taken another step towards its objective - a place in...
HEXIS AMR still in the running
The HEXIS AMR team's South American foray has got off to a good start. After the ninth round of the FIA GT1 World Championship in Brazil, the French squad has taken another step towards its objective - a place in the top three in the championship in its first season in this top-level competition. At Interlagos, it was the driver line-up in the no.10 Aston Martin DBR9, who have youngest average age in the championship, who were fighting it out with the front-runners. Clivio Piccione and Jonathan Hirschi finished third in the qualifying race only 7/10s behind the second placed car, and then came fourth in the main event. Despite a final sprint on the home stretch, they just failed to make it onto the podium by 2/10 seconds for the second time in a row after Makowiecki-Clairay at Navarra.
Once again the beautiful Interlagos circuit was the theatre of a thrilling race. In the first part of qualifying, Q1, in which all 23 cars entered, took part, 17 drivers lapped in the same second! The 2 HEXIS AMR cars got into Q2, and ended up in the middle of the field in tenth and fourteenth places on the grid. While Hirschi-Piccione achieved the above-mentioned result, Clairay-Makowiecki were handicapped with 30 kilos of ballast after their second place in Spain. Given the level of competitiveness all through the field a tenth of a second gained or lost can prove decisive. The no.9 Aston Martin did not manage to score points even though its drivers went pedal to the metal out on the track backed up by an impeccable display of pit work. Coping with ballast seemed to prove a major problem on the Brazilian circuit as the championship leaders' Maserati, which had to carry 40 kilos, could do no better than ninth, while its sister-car won the race. The San Luis circuit in Argentina is also unknown territory for the HEXIS AMR squad, but only the blue no.10 of the Italo-Swiss pairing (Hirschi-Piccione) will have to carry ballast (10 kilos).
With the count-down to the final round already under way the world championship positions are particularly interesting. Five teams can still bag second place, so HEXIS AMR is in good company. With a maximum total of 57 points up for grabs in the case of a double in both races, the only French team in the FIA GT1 World Championship is 13 points behind Reiter Engineering (the works Lamborghini tuner), and 8 points adrift of the other Aston Martin team, Young Driver AMR, and just one point behind Sumo Racing, the Nissan works squad. The French team's supporters will be keeping their fingers crossed when following the event live or at a later time on the GT1 TV site (see link below). Rendezvous this weekend at Saint Luis de Loyola de la Nueva Medina de Rio Seco!
Philippe Dumas, team manager: "We're in with more than just a chance!"
"The team and drivers once again did a great job. We didn't finish too far off the podium in this race, which was one of the most successful this year in terms of spectators, the place, the overall quality of the on-track spectacle and the weather conditions. The races were as hotly contested as ever, and as for qualifying the fact that the twenty-three cars were covered by 1.6 seconds says it all! Jo and Clivio did a remarkable job as did the whole squad. Too many niggling details prevented us from scoring points with Fred and Yann's car, but that's racing and you have to accept it. We still have to progress in the way we cope with the `success ballast.' What we have to keep in mind above all else is that after nine meetings we're in the running for second place in the world championship in only our first year, and yet we're one of the least experienced teams in the whole field. Whatever happens in Argentina, our season's been a success and I'm counting on our drivers and every team member to give 200% until the chequered flag falls in San Luis, while privileging the team spirit that's become our hall mark. Finishing in the top three would be a marvellous Christmas present, another line on our results sheet and extra motivation for the future. I also hope that Aston Martin Racing will take our 2010 performances into account, and will give us more help to become champions together."
Clement Mateu (development manager): "Everything's still possible"
"This new world championship has helped us discover other civilizations, which is very enriching even if our logistics manager Gautier Mezan has been burning the midnight oil to get everything organized! When we arrived, the catering, Internet and TV services weren't in place. It wasn't an easy situation as we were working fifteen hours a day. The `casse-croute' break is holy! Luckily after that everything went off smoothly as the people in the organization did their utmost. Sunday was a great day with a big crowd, which always gladdens the heart. From a sporting point of view we had an excellent weekend. Our two cars are both getting quicker and closer to each other in terms of sheer performance. There was an almost palpable tension between our drivers because of their rivalry and their desire to do a good job. We could have done even better with either the blue or the red car, but we should be happy with the overall result. Thanks to the nineteen points scored we're on target to achieve our aims. Our two direct rivals, Young Drivers AMR and Nismo also had a good weekend in Brazil, but everything's still possible in Argentina with twelve professional teams ready to go head-to- head. We've shown that we deserve our place at the front as we're battling with semi-works outfits in a marvellous championship. It sometimes looks easy from the outside, but appearances can be deceptive as in this milieu nobody leaves anything to chance. I think that our technical partners, Prodrive, Michelin, Motul and Magnetti-Marelli are fully aware of the quality of the effort put in by our drivers and our young team perfectly managed by Philippe Dumas."