HEXIS AMR: never say die!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

HEXIS AMR: never say die!

HEXIS AMR’s weekend got off to a difficult start in the two categories in which the team’s cars were entered on the magnificent Portimao circuit in the south of Portugal. But it finished on a high note with two encouraging results! The cars’ performance in qualifying for the FIA GT1 World Championship was disappointing as the results failed to meet the team’s expectations, and it was the same story in the qualifying race. In the main event, Mako/Clairay stormed up though the field to sixth place scoring precious points. In the European FIA GT3 Championship, Mako again sliced his way up through the field on Sunday to see the flag in fifth place with the help of an on-form Manu Rodrigues, which helped the team to put the double retirement in race 1 behind it.

FIA GT1 World Championship: the best Aston Martin in the race

In Portimao, for the fourth time in seven rounds of this enthralling world championship, the no. 9 Aston Martin entered by HEXIS AMR led the four DBR9s home. To achieve this feat, the team had to fight tooth and nail. Yann Clairay and Frédéric Makowiecki started from fourteenth place on the grid for the qualifying race, in which they finished tenth despite poor road holding caused by a defective damper. But they had to do it all over again on Sunday as an engine change dropped them back five places on the grid for the main event. The two Frenchmen took the fight to their rivals and finished sixth after a few breath-taking passing manoeuvres!

Jonathan Hirschi and Clivio Piccione, the Nürburgring heroes who scored an excellent fourth place on the legendary German circuit, their best result of the season to date, were less fortunate in the Algarve. The no. 10 HEXIS AMR Aston Martin qualified in twentieth position and on Saturday the duo made a great start of the race. In 40 minutes, Piccione and then Hirschi pulled back 15 places helped by a good pit stop and got up into fifth. Unfortunately, it all went wrong in the closing stages as the car’s performance suddenly tailed off, and the drivers from Switzerland and Monaco saw the flag in sixteenth place in the qualifying event. The use of worn tyres is the reason for this sudden tumble down the time sheets, as the team wanted to keep two new sets for the championship race. However, the expected advantage did not materialise on Sunday, and no.10 was unable to extract itself from the middle of the pack and had to make do with thirteenth.

Philippe Dumas, team manager: “We were expecting a difficult weekend as the Aston Martin isn’t really at home on bumpy circuits. The rain at the start of free practice did not help things in view of qualifying. The blue car (no.9), which had to carry 10 kilos ballast after its Nürburgring result, did not get beyond Q1. Clivio put in a brilliant drive in the qualifying race, but Jonathan’s tyres were shot towards the end and he lost a lot of ground. Yann Clairay still needs more time to get used to the car to extract the best from the tyres over two laps and the red Aston (no. 10) didn’t make it into Q3. If you take into account the broken damper and the five-place penalty because of the engine change, Sunday’s race was a huge challenge especially with the two cars in fifteenth and sixteenth places on the grid! Jonathan and Clivio were not able to make headway and we’ll have to try and analyse what happened. Fred and Yann drove a blinder to fight their way up to sixth place, again with the help of the team who set the third-quickest time for a driver and tyre change. I’m also pleased with our bullet-proof reliability. We can finish the season on a high note and help Fred Mako to get into the top three in the world rankings! “

The last three races represent unexplored territory for the team starting with the brand-new Navarra circuit in Spain on 23rd – 24th November, followed by the South American tour end of November/beginning of December.

European FIA GT3 Championship: Manu and Mako’s frenetic fado!

HEXIS AMR fought back in the Algarve after the two frustrating meetings at Jarama and Paul Ricard. The first day’s running in Portimao did not go off all that well, either. The two Aston Martin DBRS9s were well down the time sheets in qualifying and they both retired in race 1. Luckily, the stunning drive on Sunday morning by the Franco/Franco-Portuguese duo Fred Mako / Manu Rodrigues put the team back in their rightful place. Fred started the race in eleventh place and had to fight hard in the hotly-contested mid-field group to hoist the no. 1 into the top 10 when it was time for driver changes. Rodrigues used a mixture of skill and aggression to overtake several cars and he saw the flag in fifth place.

Thomas Accary’s spin at the start of the race dashed all hopes of a comeback for no. 2, which was then given two penalties. Luc Paillard knew that a points’ finish was beyond his reach, but he still set some excellent times in what was a lonely race for the HEXIS AMR driver.

Philippe Dumas, team manager: “The performance level has gone up a few notches in this championship with the arrival of new cars. We’re finding it more and more difficult to compete with them, especially as the Aston Martins are the oldest cars in the field. We’re really up against it but we have to accept the situation as it is. Our fifth place today is almost as good as a victory!”

As in 2009, the Zolder circuit will host the final round of the European FIA GT3 Championship on 9th/10th October.
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