Hexis Racing McLaren reign in Russia
The Hexis Racing McLaren team recorded a hard-fought one-two finish in the Championship Race at the seventh round of the FIA GT1 World Championship on a rain-lashed Moscow Raceway.
Frederic Makowiecki (FRA) and Stef Dusseldorp (NLD) in the No.1 McLaren MP4-12C secured victory by over 25 seconds which puts them back in contention in the drivers’ championship.
Second was the sister car of Alvaro Parente (PRT) and Gregoire Demoustier (FRA) with the No.33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 of Frank Stippler (DEU) and Oliver Jarvis (GBR) taking third.
It was the first Championship Race one-two for McLaren in 2012 and was a major transformation for the French team who garnered just two points in the previous round in Slovakia.
“It feels really good to be on the podium again, especially after the disappointment of Slovakia. It was a great effort by the whole team to turn things around,” Dusseldorp said.
“We’ve closed the gap in the championship a little bit so we’re still in the championship run.
“It was so wet out there, when I did my first few laps I was surprised at how slippery it was. As we saw in the Qualifying Race this morning, it was hard to get heat into the tyres.
“I overtook Gregoire (Demoustier) which was actually quite easy because I pitted a lap early and he was struggling a little bit with his tyres. Then I made a nice gap to the finish.”
Parente, who has done a lot of development on the car as a McLaren works driver, said the team’s change of fortunes in Moscow was down to a lot of precise set-up work.
“We learnt a lot from Slovakia, so we went to work and set the car up for this track perfectly, the track was also good for the car – a very good match,” he said.
“There were some really great battles at the beginning of the race, it was an exciting few laps, proper GT racing.
“I just want to say to the whole team, what a great job because both cars are up on the podium and it’s fantastic to see.”
For Jarvis and Stippler it was another third place, having claimed the final place on the podium in the day’s earlier Qualifying Race.
“We probably didn’t expect this result but to get a first and third in the Qualifying Race and another third in the Championship Race is a good weekend’s work for the team,” Jarvis said.
A heavy downpour just prior to the start made track conditions treacherous. Like the Qualifying Race earlier in the day, the pack lined up behind the Safety Car for the start.
By the time the Safety Car let the field loose, the track surface was extremely wet as heavy rain continued to fall.
After just four laps, the Safety Car was re-deployed as visibility became a problem due to the standing water on the track.
When the Safety Car departed for a second time, the pole-sitter Stephane Ortelli (MON) in the No.32 Audi was jumped in the early stages. He and Laurens Vanthoor (BEL) eventually finished fourth to complete a good weekend for Audi.
The No.38 All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport Mercedes pair of Marc Basseng and Markus Winkelhock were fifth to gain valuable points on Vita4One BMW’s Michael Bartels (DEU) and Yelmer Buurman (NLD) who were seventh in what was a difficult two days.
The BMW duo still lead on 127 points from Basseng/Winkelhock on 121. Makowiecki and Dusseldorp are third on 110.
In the teams’ standings, All-Inkl.com Münnich Motorsport are on 207 from Vita4One (173) and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (165).
The eighth round of the championship takes place at Nurburgring on 21-23 September.