2011 FIA GT1 Round 4 - Sachsenring

BY Burnpavement

Hexis Aston takes the spoils in Germany.

Photos: SRO Media

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 No. 41 Marc VDS Ford of Maxime Martin led the field into the first turn with Stef Dusseldorp in the No. 3 Hexis AMR Aston Martin on the outside of the Ford as the pair vied for the lead. The No. 3 was pushed wide and onto the gravel by the Ford, allowing the No. 8 Young Driver Aston of Stefan Mücke to nip through and take the lead. At Turn 2 the No. 5 Swiss Racing Lamborghini of Karl Wendlinger and the No. 7 Young Driver Aston Martin of Tomas Enge collided, tipping the Lamborghini into a spin. The unfortunate Max Nilsson in the No. 6 Swiss Racing Lamborghini t-boned his teammates car and was left stranded on the circuit with severe front end damage. Both the No. 5 and No. 7 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 No. 4 Hexis Aston was challenging the No. 8 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 No. 41 Marc VDS Ford slowed with a punctured right rear tyre, with damage to the bodywork. Martin pulled into the pit lane 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 eighth and challenging the No. 21 Sumo Power GT Nissan of Jamie Campbell-Walter for seventh. On lap 11 Stefan Mücke lost another place as he was passed at Turn 1 by Dominik Schwäger in the No. 37 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 pit stops was the No. 3 Hexis Aston of Clivio Piccione, which emerged in fifth place in between the No. 20 and No. 21 Nissans.

Piccini had a comfortable lead but Pastorelli was under pressure from Turner for the first few laps after the pit stops 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 No. 37 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 No. 11 Exim Bank Corvette was challenging David Brabham in the No. 20 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 No. 4 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.