Hexis AMR: Paul Ricard Race Report

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

HEXIS AMR DBR9 Paul Ricard GT1
They fought like lions!

On "their" Paul Ricard circuit, the HEXIS AMR team lived a weekend more complicated than expected. During this French leg of the FIA GT1 World Championship, they succeeded in getting over difficult qualifying by hoisting one of their cars up to the Top 10, and thus up to the points of the final race. In passing, they dominated the other Aston Martin official team. Nevertheless, in GT3, HEXIS AMR had undoubtedly never met such a rotten luck, with a car forced to withdraw for want of spare engine from the practice, and another "out of order" further to a collision at the start of race 2.

FIA GT1 World Championship

During free practice, the journey had started on a high rhythm with the best time for Frederic Makowiecki at the wheel of DB9 #9. But we know this kind of indicator is often deceptive. At the most it revealed the slight advantage of a good knowledge of the place. The team quickly understood it was not going to be easy because of the ballast imposed to all the Aston Martins in general, increased of the one that followed from the previous results. With 30 additional kg, the British are the cars whose weight increased the most compared with Brno. Mako's/Accary's DB9 #9 got 30 more because of its 2nd place at Silverstone, and the 4th place of Hirschi's/Piccione's #10 at Brno cost them a 10-kg success ballast. Now, weight is the enemy of tyres, especially on an abrasive track shrouded with a leaden sun.

HEXIS AMR accustomed us to shine during qualifying practice, but it curiously was the entire contrary in this race at home. Fortunately, Fred and Thomas succeeded in catching up from the 19th to the 11th place at the end of the 60 min of Saturday's qualifying race, while Clivio and Jonathan were jumping from the 21st to the 17th place.

In FIA GT1 World Championship, each car is allowed to have four tyre sets by meeting. Despite the martyrdom due to the cars' weight, to heat and to the "flats" caused by some destructive spins during free practice, the team well managed their stock. At zero hour from the Championship race, they had one tyre set left to fit both cars out. This strategy enabled Fred Mako and Jonathan Hirschi to spring out at the 10th and 12th places at the first lap, and then to culminate in 6th and 8th positions. Their mates took over with worn smooth tyres that reserved them a perilous end of race. Yet, the team gave everything during stops by succeeding the field's two fastest pit stops! Thomas Accary could remain in the points and cross the line at the 9th rank, while Clivio Piccione, jostled by a Maserati within sight of the arrival, ranked 13th.

FIA GT3 European Championship

A week after a disappointing trip to Jarama regarding results, HEXIS AMR had the right to expect a more favourable fate on their land. Alas, this was not the case, and it is even one of the Spanish misadventures that cause part of the disillusion endured on this side of the Pyrenees!

During free practice, Manu Rodrigues had to go back to pits with a beginning of fire. Diagnosis was soon set: broken engine. Yet, the former had been put into the Aston Martin DBRS9 #1 last week at Jarama. As AMR could not fix in time the power unit broken in Spain, Rodrigues'/Mako's car was forced to withdraw.

Another domino effect jeopardized the course of car #2. During the first qualifying session, Luc Paillard span round, damaging his new tyres, and hit protections and had to be content with the 15th time. He thus took a run-up for race 1 with tyres that covered the two free practice sessions. A few laps from the flag, Thomas Accary went back to the pits to retire, as the state of tyres did not enable him to continue in satisfying safety conditions.

Luc's left the track required repairing that the team promptly realized and end ...5 minutes from the end of the session. Therefore, Thomas had to quickly get into action to qualify himself 8th on the grid of race 2, of which he could not finish the first lap. "At the hairpin, while I already was in line at the end of the curve, Holling's Ferrari leaned on my back wheel, making me spin round in front of all the pack. A car avoided me, another touched me and Policand's BMW hit me full on."

At last, we will note that HEXIS AMR succeeded beyond expectations their event operation. The bike show, DJ-mix, dancers and their car-washing as well as events organized around Kalaschnikow Energy Drink met a devastating success!


Clivio Piccione, Aston Martin DB9 GT1 #10: "Jonathan left with new tyres and took a great start. When I took over, I quickly felt a strong oversteer due to the fast wear and tear of back tyres. We were in a defensive position, but I think we deserved a few points after the work accomplished with the team this weekend. It is hard to swallow, but we have to analyse and come back stronger at Spa- Francorchamps."

Fred Mako, Aston Martin DB9 GT1 #9: "We were a bit surprised not to pass in Q2, and this made things harder afterwards. We also wished we scored more than two points this weekend. I attacked three laps at the beginning to keep the leaders' wake, and tyres immediately vanished. The continuation of my relay was thus delicate. The big "plus" is the team's work that gives us trust in the future if we get a more equitable balance of performance for our Aston Martins. We then would find ourselves in position to win."

Clement Mateu: "The situation in GT3 is frustrating. As for GT1, we were in a vicious spiral but we succeeded in pulling out. Taking points was not easy yet. Another positive aspect for this race at home: we succeeded in being a major event on both the sports marketing and hospitality levels, our guests rose to the challenge and I hope this will have a nice media impact!"

Philippe Dumas: "It should have been a good meeting in GT3 if we look at Fred's time in free practice. He could have fought for the pole without this broken engine. In GT1 too, there were very good points such as the 100% reliability since the beginning of the season, or our tyre and driver changes that proved to be the fastest on Sunday. In principle, we should be more competitive at Spa, but what to think about the best time in race signed by Stephan Mucke with his Aston Martin Young Driver while he was last, all alone, with new tyres? I hope the FIA GT Committee will not infer that our cars have to be even heavier!"

Anyway, HEXIS AMR will want to take their revenge at Spa-Francorchamps on July 30th/31st!

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