Aston Martin Customer Teams Gain Experience in Abu Dhabi

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Young Driver AMR
Official Aston Martin customer teams, Hexis Racing AMR and Young Driver AMR, came away from the first round of the new FIA GT World Championship in Abu Dhabi with a great deal of experience after a difficult pair of one hour races.

Race one started with much promise as Frederic Mackowiecki (FR) and Philippe Dumas (FR) started from the front row in their Hexis AMR Aston Martin DBR9. Qualifying was cut short when another competitor suffered a heavy accident, and the grid was set according to times already recorded. That put the Young Driver Aston Martin of Tomas Enge (CZ) and Darren Turner (UK) in eighth position, but Clivio Piccione (MC) and Jonathan Hirschi (CH) were 18th after having had only limited running in the pre-race test, and Christoffer Nygaard (DEN) and Stefan Mücke (GER) started 20th.

The one-hour races were sure to be physical, and so it proved at the first corner. Another competitor lost control at the first corner, and spun across the pack, dropping Mackowiecki down the order from his front-row starting position. “The Maserati braked too late and started to spin,” said Mackowiecki. “It was OK, I lost some positions but then in the next fast corner someone hit me and I spun.”

He recovered from the back of the pack to 15th before handing to Dumas, and the team made up a lot of places in the compulsory pit stop. Dumas brought the car home in seventh, one place ahead of his team mate.

Mücke was already on a charge, and on the first lap had come through the pack to eighth position overall. “After the restart I made up two more positions before I gave it to Christoffer and he did a good job,” said Mücke. “As other cars broke down we moved up, but we were penalised five places for the Championship race for changing an engine, so we have a lot of work to do. Some cars are balanced well in terms of performance, but others are massively faster.”

Enge’s race in the Young Driver Aston Martin DBR9 finished early when he was sandwiched between the spinning Maserati and another competitor. He suffered damage to both sides of his car, to the rear suspension and the refuelling system, and was unable to continue.

The results of the first race decided the starting position of the second race. Even with the penalties, three of the four Aston Martins started in the top eight positions on the revised grid, while Darren Turner started from the back.

“A Nissan went past me, and another one was coming up very fast,” said Nygaard, who started the Young Driver DBR9. “I could see that he was going too fast and stayed right. He braked too late and hit the Nissan that had just passed me. I avoided them, but was hit on the other side of the car and broke a connecting rod or something.”

That was the end of his race, but the contact he had was with the Hexis AMR car of Piccione, which broke a rear rim. “We lost all the ground we had made up and after that we got into a good rhythm,” said Piccione. “I had a problem with the right rear, where I was hit, and after we changed drivers Jonathan had to stop. Maybe there was a problem with the rear suspension.

“My overall impression of the weekend is good. We have had a lot of miles in the car, we know it better and at Silverstone we will have a different sort of a weekend.”

Dumas and Mackowiecki had a problem in the pits changing the tyres at 32 minutes into the race, and so it was left to Turner and Enge to deliver a result for the Young Driver team. “I stayed out of trouble for the first few corners, and then it all kicked off on the back straight,” said Turner. “It is going to be like that all year. I made up places because people got into contact with each other. I had a Corvette and Maserati behind me and they went past, but I was on the tyres we had qualified on, while Tomas had new tyres.”

Enge made up for his earlier disappointment by finishing in 11th position overall, and all of the teams are looking forward to the second round of the championship at Silverstone in two weeks.
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