The Hexis Racing team were prepared for a challenging race at Nogaro with the entry of two brand-new cars in the FIA GT1 World Championship. As things turned out the French team managed to show the potential of the McLaren GT, and underline the world champions’ determination to be successful in this year’s championship.
Qualifying for the first round of the FIA GT1 World Championship was a reflection of the whole Easter weekend - encouraging but with a sense of unfulfilled promise. The two Hexis McLaren 12C GT3s got into Q2, but problems with the starter on no. 1 as Stef Dusseldorp prepared to go out on track prevented further running. In the meantime, by getting into the top eight Alvaro Parente qualified no. 2 for Q3, which gave confidence to the team’s engineers.
The two cars were in eighth and fourteenth places on the grid for the qualifying race, the first of the season, but an incident on a wet formation lap meant only no. 2 started the 60-minute event. Parente thrilled the Hexis fans with a series of overtaking maneuvers and got up to third place before handing over to Demoustier. The team carried out the best pit stop of the whole field and the young Frenchman rejoined in second place. He avoided all the pitfalls of a drying track, and took the flag in 4th place, just 7 seconds behind the winning Audi.
The next day, the Hexis drivers provided the excitement at the start of the championship race. Frédéric Makowiecki started from seventeenth place and pulled back eight places in a single lap. Unfortunately, his meteoric comeback ended prematurely on lap 3 following an electrical issue. Demoustier hung on to his place in the first eight. During the driver and tyre change an electrical glitch caused a red alert for the engine forcing the team to retire the remaining 12C GT3.
Philippe Dumas, the Hexis team manager, sums up the first meeting of the season:
“First of all, I’d like to say how pleasant it was to come back to Nogaro, ten years after our debut here. The fans and the connoisseurs who turned up for our home race showed that they like our team and that they appreciate what we’ve accomplished. For me it’s a big encouragement and gives us even more determination to fight to defend our world title. We’ve had a challenging week requiring with a lot of work, but overall I believe that we’re even stronger as a team than in 2011. We’ve got the skills and the organization to win with the McLarens. We’re 200 percent concentrated on this championship and the manufacturer we’re representing. What happened to us at Nogaro isn’t the end of the world, but we plan to work hard hand-in-hand with our English partners to solve the technical problems.”
The second round will take place on the Zolder circuit in Belgium on 21-22 April.