Sunday 15 May 2011

FIA GT1: Hexis Aston Takes the Spoils in Germany

Hexis Aston Takes the Spoils in Germany

Andrea Piccini and Christian Hohenadel took their Hexis Aston Martin No.4 to victory in the Championship Race at Sachsenring. The Hexis pair started from fifth on the grid and stayed clear of a spate of early incidents to secure their first win of the 2011 season. Second place went to the No.37 All-Inkl Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini of Dominik Schwäger and Nicky Pastorelli while third was the Young Driver Aston Martin No.8 of Stefan Mücke and Darren Turner.

The nr 41 Marc VDS Ford of Maxime Martin led the field into the first turn with Stef Dusseldorp in the nr3 Hexis AMR Aston Martin on the outside of the Ford as the pair vied for the lead. The nr3 was pushed wide and onto the gravel by the Ford, allowing the nr8 Young Driver Aston of Stefan Mücke to nip through and take the lead. At Turn 2 the nr5 Swiss Racing Lamborghini of Karl Wendlinger and the nr7 Young Driver Aston Martin of Tomas Enge collided, tipping the Lamborghini into a spin. The unfortunate Max Nilsson in the nr6 Swiss Racing Lamborghini t-boned his teammates car and was left stranded on the circuit with severe front end damage. Both the nr5 and nr7 cars pulled off the circuit into retirement two corners later and the safety car was deployed to recover the stricken Nilsson car.

The race was restarted at the end of lap 5 just as rain began to fall on to the circuit. Christian Hohenadel in the nr4 Hexis Aston was challenging the nr8 Young Driver Aston for the lead. However it wasn't until lap 10 that Hohenadel took the lead into Turn 1 but as soon as he was free he opened up a gap to Mücke's car.

Meanwhile the nr41 Marc VDS Ford slowed with a punctured right rear tyre, with damage to the bodywork. Martin pulled into the pitlane but the car retired and took no further part in the race.

Mike Hezemans was making progress in the Exim Bank Team China Corvette from 14th on the grid, moving up to 8th and challenging the nr21 Sumo Power GT Nissan of Jamie Campbell-Walter for 7th.

On lap 11 Stefan Mücke lost another place as he was passed at Turn 1 by Dominik Schwäger in the nr37 All Lamborghini. Meanwhile the rain had stopped and the teams put away their Michelin wets and prepared for the pit stop window to open.

The leaders came in and went back out in the same order, with Andrea Piccini now leading in the Hexis Aston from Nicky Pastorelli in the All-Inkl Lamborghini and Darren Turner in the Young Driver Aston. The main beneficiary of the pitstops was the nr3 Hexis Aston of Clivio Piccione, which emerged in 5th place in between the nr20 and nr21 Nissans.

Piccini had a comfortable lead but Pastorelli was under pressure from Turner for the first few laps after the pitstops but the Italian started to pull away from the British driver by lap 23. Championship leader Marc Basseng's weekend finished on a low note when the nr37 Lamborghini went straight on at Turn 8 with a problem with the rear tyre.

Back at the front of the field Piccini was managing to maintain a comfortable gap to Pastorelli's Lamborghini, who in turn was a comfortable two seconds ahead of the third placed Aston Martin of Darren Turner. Further back Nicky Catsburg in the nr11 Exim Bank Corvette was challenging David Brabham in the nr20 Sumo Power Nissan but the Australian just held his line and his position until the chequered flag.

At the flag it was Andrea Piccini who took the first win for the nr4 Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9, taking the lead in the Driver's Championship for himself and Christian Hohenadel in the process. Hohenadel and Piccini now have 61 points to Marc Basseng's and Markus Winkelhock on 57. Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke are third on 56 points. The result also means Hexis AMR extend their lead in the Team Championship to 17 points over Münnich Motorsport.

Christian Hohenadel also becomes the first FIA GT3 European Champion to win an FIA GT1 World Championship race. 2008 FIA GT3 Champion James Ruffier won a race in the FIA GT Championship at the wheel of a GT1 class Corvette in 2009 but Hohenadel is the first GT3 Champion to win a GT1 World Championship race.

The next race is at Silverstone on the 3-5 June when the drivers in the FIA GT1 World Championship will compete for the world famous Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy. The Championship will also be the first to use the new pits complex at Silverstone, which will be officially unveiled on Tuesday 17th May.

CLICK HERE for the result of Round 4

CLICK HERE for the Race Facts

CLICK HERE for the Championship Positions after Round 4

Christian Hohenadel
nr4 Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9

"I saw that there was a bit of a mess at the start and I ended up second. The car was very good and I was able to push a lot to get passed the No.8 (Young Driver Aston Martin) and then when I got the lead I pushed again to open up the gap as I was quicker than him. It's my first win in GT1, I didn't expect it so soon. To win in Germany with all my friends here is just fantastic."

Andrea Piccini
nr4 Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9

"It's never easy when you are first because so many things can happen, and the weather was unpredictable. Christian did a good job and he did most of the work for me. The car was OK, the tyres were fine and the pit stop was fantastic. I just got the car to the end. It's very nice to be leading the (drivers') championship but there is still a long way to go."

Dominik Schwäger
nr37 Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV

"At the start I just focussed on staying out of trouble, not hitting anyone but still making up positions. It's not that easy, you can see on TV that our starts are much closer than GT3 starts because everybody is really on it and its sometimes millimetres between being kicked out of the race or getting a good start. Under braking, I made two or three positions, then I had the two Astons in front of me. I made a move on the Young Driver car and it worked out perfectly. I was quite happy that the rain didn't come too heavy because with the slightest mistake in the wet and you're off on this track. I am happy that we finally have our podium. We missed so many I can't count them anymore. I'm not jumping for joy but it's a start, we collected decent points and I'm really looking forward to the next race."

Nicky Pastorelli

nr37 Münnich Motorsport Lamborghini Murcielago 670 R-SV

"It was easy because I didn't have to fight with any cars behind or in front of me but it was difficult because I had to really push on the limit to close the gap to the car in front (Hexis Aston Martin No.4). Some laps I could close a little some laps not. In the end we are happy with this result after all the bad luck we have had. Hopefully we can continue like this now."

Stefan Mücke
nr8 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9

"At the start, I tried to stay on the inside to avoid any contact. Initially the Ford (Marc VDS No.41) missed its braking point so he locked up his front tyres and he went a little bit wide and I was able to overtake both of the cars ahead (the No.41 Ford and the Hexis Aston No.3) and take the lead. After the safety car it was a struggle to get the tyres up to temperature. It was quite a tough race because we had some success ballast (20kg) but we are happy to be here on the podium and score some important points."

Darren Turner
nr8 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9

"We know that the Lambo (No.37) finds it quite difficult to warm up its tyres so I was pushing quite hard on the first lap out of the pits. But after that he was able to pull away. We could both see the Hexis car ahead but we weren't able to close it down but it was only really a car-length at a time. Being a German team, we had a lot of guests here. It certainly seemed quite active in the box, it was a busy place. Hopefully they all had a good day."

Jamie Campbell-Walter

nr21 Sumo Power Nissan GT-R

“It’s nice to have a result, and while it’s not a win or a podium I think it’s a great result for the Nissan GT-R, the Sumo Power team and the JRM team to have all four cars in the top ten. Realistically it isn’t a great track for us so we’ve pulled out a really good result for ourselves. I’m personally really happy: Brabs has driven amazingly, the pit stop crews have done a fantastic job and we’ve produced a nice result and a good haul of points.”

David Brabham
nr21 Sumo Power GT Nissan GT-R

“We knew coming in that it wasn’t going to suit us, especially with the extra weight we got from the Algarve. We had a few issues in Qualifying, but in the races we kept going, the guys did a great job in the pit stops and we gained a few places. The team has improved massively: they’re a brand new outfit for this year, but they have just got better and better and it’s been great to see. I think we got it right today, and Jamie did a great job towards the end. For Sumo Power, fourth and fifth is a great result.”

Mike Hezemans
nr11 Exim Bank Team China Corvette Z06

“The race was good, the car was good on new tyres but then towards the end we struggled with understeer on new tyres – like a lot of cars. We were a little bit quicker than the Nissan, especially at the beginning, but you cannot pass, it’s too difficult on this track. The pace was really good on new tyres and quite good on old. I should have been on pole (yesterday), and then the weekend looks a lot different – that’s the main problem.”

Bas Leinders
nr40 Marc VDS Racing Team Ford GT Matech

“We should have been on the podium today, but we got hit on the first lap which completely knocked the suspension geometry on the right rear and made the car very tricky to drive. Actually we were quite lucky to finish the race because it made the tyre wear so badly. There are some positives: for us it was easy this morning to finish fourth fastest, and the No.41 car was fast all weekend. This track suits the Ford quite well though, and even here we had trouble fighting with other cars. Everything that could go wrong seems to – I just hope our luck changes soon.”

Stef Dusseldorp
nr3 Hexis AMR Aston Martin DB9

“We lost 25 points today. I had a good start and was on the outside, but then I don’t know what (Maxime) Martin did – he just pushed me off big time. After that we didn’t really have a chance: the car wasn’t straight and we had bad understeer. It was not easy, so I just tried to keep the gap and then we had a perfect pit stop, really fast so we went into P5. Then we had the puncture, which was caused by the first corner collision, and that was that.”

Tomas Enge
nr7 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DB9

“I had a pretty good start, and going into turn one it was pretty tight. I think as Johnny Herbert says we are like a magnet to accidents. It was unfortunate, I didn’t know Karl Wendlinger was there and there was no space for two cars: he touched me once and then spun, and hit me on my rear wheel which completely broke the rim. It was a bad weekend for us, so now we just look forward to Silverstone, a track I have been fast at last year. I hope I can repeat that.”

Jeff Carter

Media Delegate,

Fotos: DPPI/Fia GT1.

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