Hexis Aston Martin started their season in perfect fashion in Abu Dhabi, taking a Championship Race victory which not only rocketed them to the top of the Drivers' and Teams' standings but also boosted their overall title ambitions.
With Clivio Piccione and Stef Dusseldorp - the youngest driver pairing in the field with an average age of just 24 - driving the No. 3 Aston Martin DB9, and Andrea Piccini sharing the No. 4 car with reigning GT3 champion Christian Hohenadel, Hexis scored more than double the points any of its rivals collected in the Championship Race to ensure a stylish start to 2011.
The victory owed much to a rapid pit stop which catapulted Dusseldorp and Piccione from fifth to first - although Piccione had driven brilliantly to keep in touch with the leading pack in the first half of the race, while Dusseldorp's excellent defence in the closing stages also drew the plaudits.
As the Monegasque and Dutch drivers sealed the win, behind them Piccini and Hohenadel also impressed as it gained five places in the evening's main race to finish fourth, less than one second down the road from the third placed All-Inkl Lamborghini of Markus Winkelhock and Marc Basseng.
The result left team manager Philippe Dumas in bullish mood, saying: "We've again proved that we're pretty good at changing tyres, but I don't want to single (them) out. What's important is that this victory has given opur confidence a big boost - we're going to be strong throughout the season and our aim is the championship."
Stef Dusseldorp, who drove superbly on his GT1 debut to hold off a charging Richard Westbrook in the closing stages, said: "This was a brilliant start of the season for me, Clivio and for Hexis AMR. We never thought we could return home with a win from Abu Dhabi, but we've proven to be a young, quick team.
"It will be difficult to race for the win (at Zolder) as we have some ballast from Abu Dhabi, but I think the Aston Martin will suit the track better (than Abu Dhabi). I've also driven there a couple of times in formula racing, and even had my first win in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC in 2008, so we will do our best to score as many points as possible for the championship!"
Christian Hohenadel, who like Dusseldorp made his GT1 debut on the weekend, was equally motivated by Hexis’ performance, saying: “Fourth place in my debut race is a dream start into the GT1 season - I never would have expected that I would only just miss a place on the podium. With this result I’m very optimistic for the next race at Zolder – we scored good points but have no success ballast in the car, and that gives us a great foundation for the next round.”