Hexis AMR: Dream Team for the Blancpain Endurance Series

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hexis AMR: Dream Team for the Blancpain Endurance Series

At the end of January, HEXIS AMR was the first team to announce two complete driver line-ups for the FIA GT1 World Championship. A month later, the French team presents the two driver trios who will share its Aston Martins in GT3. HEXIS AMR won the European Championship in this category in 2009, and it is now about to discover a new domain of motor sport – endurance.

HEXIS AMR has proved its competitiveness in the one-hour races that make up the French, German, European and World Championships. So the creation of the Blancpain Endurance Series comes just at the right moment for the team managed by Philippe Dumas, which will be able to hone its current skills and acquire new ones in longer races. The entrants will do battle with one another in a series of three-hour events at Monza, Navarra, Magny-Cours and Silverstone, with the 63rd Spa 24 Hours in mid-summer as the cherry on the cake. Some twelve to fifteen makes should be represented for this new championship, which will combine quality and quantity.

“We’re taking up this endurance challenge with a lot of humility,” says Philippe Dumas. “We don’t have much experience, so we’ve got everything to prove against teams that know it inside out. We’ve left nothing to chance in our pre-season preparation to help stack the odds in our favour. We’ve now got a really top-class technical squad; they’re runners-up in the world championship; they showed what they could do last year during tyre changes, and they’ll be present in the Blancpain Endurance Series.”

The term ‘dream team’ is no exaggeration where the drivers are concerned. The French squad can count on three European FIA GT3 Champions, Gilles Vannelet, Henri Moser and Frédéric Makowiecki! The first two were crowned together in 2007 in a Ferrari. Mako shared the joy of the teams’ title won by HEXIS AMR two years ago. The second Aston Martin DBRS9 will be entrusted to three pillars of the team’s history: Yann Clairay, who arrives in GT3 on the back of his double victory in the final round of the GT1 World Championship in Argentina, Pierre-Brice Mena, who filled the runner-up spot in the European FIA GT3 Championship with HEXIS AMR in 2008, and Julien Rodrigues, who did the same thing in 2009 in his sixth season with the team. A few more figures: the driver line-up consists of five Frenchmen and one Swiss (Moser), three Spa 24-Hours podium finishers (Vannelet 1st in GT3 in 2010, Moser 3rd overall and 1st in GT2 in 2009, and Clairay 3rd in FIA GT in 2003). It should not be forgotten that Clairay also brings his experience as Le Mans Series Champion, plus a podium finish in LM GT1 in the Le Mans 24 Hours to the squad.

HEXIS AMR can be counted on to throw all its professionalism, its determination to win and its now legendary team spirit into the battle for victory in the Blancpain Endurance Series. But that is what you would expect from an outfit that has finished in the top three in at least one championship every year
since 2005.

On the Lédenon circuit in mid-February, Vannelet delighted the team's partners by assuring a marathon series of track baptisms with Stef Dusseldorp during the VIP Days. He then joined his new team-mates, Fred Makowiecki and Henri Moser, at Nogaro for a 3-day intensive test session in a car fitted with some of the 2011 tweaks. Julien, Pierre-Brice and Yann will relay them at the end of this week at Lédenon. "Our three drivers in the lead team have already gelled," smiles Dumas. "The car's progressed as well, and those who drove it in the past will realize this very quickly. I'm very happy to continue the adventure with Fred Makowiecki. At Nogaro he showed us once again just how quick he is. We'll be rivals in GT1 and he's going to give us a hard time! But as our team's very strong, he's also going to have to roll up his sleeves if he wants to beat us!"

This comment leads us straight to the FIA GT1 World Championship. On 21st February, the team's two Aston Martin DBR9s were sent off to Abu Dhabi, which is hosting the first round as it did in 2010. While some people are having difficulty finalizing their 2011 programme, HEXIS AMR is tackling its second campaign in a serene state of mind. The team carried out eight days testing at Lédenon and Nogaro. "The main aim was to give our drivers the maximum amount of track time. They covered around 3300 kms, including a day in the rain, and we were able to complete our programme. Clivio Piccione was the benchmark for the three newcomers, even if Andrea Piccini had already done a lot of racing in GT1 with the Aston Martin. First of all, we were very happy with the excellent ambience that reigned in the team and with each one's motivation. Stef Dusseldorp, who had almost no experience in GT, was the real surprise in these tests. Of course, we had a few moments of doubt as to the future of the championship. Also for the first time, the team tested without me for a day at Nogaro, because I was held up in Germany by a meeting with the organizers. Today, I think that we're going to be racing in a very high-level championship. The team's done a lot of work and we're 100% ready to go!" Several members of the HEXIS AMR team and one of its Aston Martin DBRS9s will be in Paris on 9th March for the evening that will launch the FIA GT1 World Championship, and the Blancpain Endurance Series.

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