FIA GT3 European Championship: One pole, one victory and plenty of thrills!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hexis Racing
HEXIS Racing AMR's two crews each came away from the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit with five points, as they jockey for position in the FIA GT3 European championship. However, the manner in which they each got the points was quite different! Thomas Accary and Julien Rodrigues won race 1 after it had been stopped following a crash in the 4th lap. Their Aston Martin and six other cars suffered considerable damage in the pile-up. Starting from pole position, the other DBRS9, driven by Frédéric Makowiecki and Manu Rodrigues took 4th place in race 2 despite incurring a stop and go. With just one more meeting and two races to go in the season, HEXIS Racing AMR increased its lead in the European team standings while its two driver crews closed the gap on the leaders.

Team and drivers alike put in some excellent work during open practice. Aston Martin No. 4, driven by Fred Mako and Manu Rodrigues, was inseparable from first place in both sessions. The sister car, No. 3, with Thomas Accary and Julien Rodrigues at the wheel, clocked the 5th and then the 2nd fastest lap. Continuing this good form, Thomas Accary qualified on the outside of the front row for race 1. In the second qualifying session, Mako took his second pole position of the season.

Unfortunately things went horribly wrong for several competitors at the beginning of race 1. In Lap 4, Armindo collided with the Morgan driven by Enjalbert. Oil escaping from one of the radiators plus a few spots of rain were enough to turn the surface of a fast curve into a skating rink. The red flag came out to stop the race after a pile up involving an Audi, a Lamborghini, two Corvettes, a Ford GT and a Ferrari in addition to Thomas's Aston Martin. Armindo got excluded for having caused the original incident. Thomas Accary and Julien Rodrigues were declared winners, the points allocation was halved and several faces were likely to be missing from race 2.

However, HEXIS Racing AMR were determined that this fate would not befall their car. The team stayed up all Saturday night in an attempt to repair DBRS9 No.3. They managed to get the car on the grid for the 4PM start of Sunday's race but Julien was only able to complete a few laps. In the other car Fred Mako had opened up a big lead by the time he handed over the wheel to Manu Rodrigues. Sadly, Manu came out of the pits a second too early and picked up the inevitable stop and go penalty. He lost 30 seconds that way but still nourished hopes of a podium place. He was still in 2nd place when Armindo tried to muscle his way past. The result was a tailspin for both cars but fortunately they both managed to get going again, with the order unchanged. In the final lap Armindo finally managed to get by with Ludwig's Corvette right behind him, so Manu finished the race 4th.

HEXIS Racing AMR's crews are lying 3rd and 4th in the European FIA GT3 championships and are among 15 drivers still in with a chance to take the title at Zolder next October 24-25. The team holds a 15½-point lead over Phoenix Racing in the team championship standings. The maximum points score possible is 36 for a pair of “one-two”.

In team-manager Philippe Dumas' opinion: "we were happy and confident after practice. The drivers produced almost perfect drives in qualifying. We found the right balance between consistency and out-and-out performance. We won race 1 but the accident in lap 4 destroyed the chassis of Thomas and Julien's car. We did all we possibly could to repair it in the hours between the time when the car was released from the parc fermé at 8PM Saturday night and shower time at 8AM on Sunday morning. The FIA could have stopped us from racing but instead they congratulated us for the amazing job we had done. We demonstrated just how much we were up for it! That was our second victory of the meeting. Mako's fantastic stint at the wheel of the other car in race 2 might have earned us another win had it not been for this mistake in the pit lane. Manu nevertheless drove a fine race, too. What happened after with Armindo happened, that's all there is to say about it. We have to take the positives from this. We are still very much in the game, we worked really well and I get the impression we are becoming a team to be reckoned with."

AMR Teams
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